There's been a world between me and my 16-year-old daughter this summer. Literally. Not figuratively. Not metaphorically. Literally.*
She’s been an exchange student in Pietermartizburg, South Africa. 8,472 miles away. It took a full 24 hours for her to travel there. The time difference is six hours. When I wake up in the morning, she’s enjoying lunch. When I sit down for dinner, she’s deep in slumber. She’s seen lions and elephants and cheetahs and rhinos. She’s been welcomed as an ad hoc member of a loving South African family, who in turn, introduced her to loving South African friends. She’s been doing and trying things that I never will. To quote a line from the Toto song, Africa, she took "some time to do the things we never have."
I have missed her like crazy.
I have missed her like crazy.
I miss her wit and her insights. I miss her fashion advice and her compassion. I miss the way she adores and understands and makes fun of her brother. I miss the way we can communicate in knowing phrases, abbreviations, and even emojis. I miss her countless bottles of nail polish, cluttering kitchen counters, coffee tables and sofa cushions. And I miss her more when she sends texts like these:
“BTW, I like cabbage now. I really like it.”
“Raw beets are so good.”
“Well now, I’m a fan of eggplant.”
Plainly, the girl knows the way to my heart. I mean really, what greater passions do I have than cooking, grocery shopping, eating, writing recipes, and then, cooking some more?
I’ve got to admit, I was worried in the beginning. It must have been hard to get used to new things, new people, new classes, and new accents. It must have been hard to be away from familiar surroundings and familiar food and beloved things and beloved people. And beloved pets. Particularly beloved pets. But a few days ago, I get this:
“The best graduation gift in the world would be a trip back here.”
Sigh. She's not even home, but she's already planning a visit back.
Tomorrow, however, she’ll board the first of thee planes, and the next day -- 8,472 miles later -- she’ll be back in Charlotte. Different. Wiser. Dazzling. And with an appetite for raw beets.
I can hardly wait. Literally.
* Beloved Son, as an aside, note my use of the word “literally.” Note that I do not write that I “literally” cry myself to sleep while your sister is gone. Because I do not. My pillow is perfectly dry. Nor did I “literally” die when she went away. Were that the case, I would now be either six feet under or a zombie. I am neither. I am alive. Literally. Julia, however, is still half a world away. Literally.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
I am unreasonably fond of brussels sprouts, although the kids have always shunned them. Is it possible that my 16yo, "cabbage-loving" intrepid traveler might now give them a try? Fingers crossed!
1 pound fresh, cleaned brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss brussels sprouts and garlic in olive oil. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender. Serve hot -- and eat as a side dish, or cool to room temperature and eat with your fingers!