Monday, July 13, 2009


Just before Craig's memorial service I had brunch in Reston with my kid, Matt, and his girlfriend, Ashley. He moved back to Virginia from Oregon a year ago. Herndon is where he has many friends and where he grew up before we moved west three years ago. He and Ashley are living with her parents just two blocks from his old high school. And in the same subdivision where we lived for seven years.

Matt got emotional upon seeing me. It had been the longest, by far, he ever has been away from his family. There's no easy way to be young. Like most 20-somethings he is struggling. But he's holding a job, isn't in jail, and hasn't gotten anyone pregnant. Is he happy, the thing you want most for your kids? I guess for Matt's it's something akin to it. When you raise a kid you learn to adapt to modest expectations. I'm happy with that.

Then there's Matt's sister. Kristen followed us to Oregon, to our great relief, as soon as she completed her French and Education degrees from Virginia Tech. She spent a year studying in France. Less than a year after arriving in Oregon she was married and had a baby. Eleven months later and they have a second boy, who just had his first birthday.

We have a standing joke: "Kristen, if someone had told you when we were living in Virginia that today you would be (fill in here with virtually any typical domestic day), what would you have thought?" They say that life is what happens when you are making plans; Kristen is the poster child. But here's the kicker: she's happy. Happy to be a stay-at-home mom raising two babies with her husband in rural Oregon. Just plain happy.

The babies all start out so innocent. Then they grow up, or at least get older. And everything changes quickly when you're 22 years old. Matt says that Ashley just kicked him out of her parent's house. "I'm screwed," he whined to me on the phone the other day.

During my visit to DC I asked an ex-NWF colleague if she "had a job she didn't hate." She fumbled for an answer and said she wasn't sure if she really enjoyed her job. "That's not what I asked," I said. "I asked if you didn't hate it." She thought a moment and decided that yes, she didn't hate it. Based on my experience, sometimes that's not too bad of a benchmark.

By the way, brunch at Clyde's outdoor cafe in Reston was great. We had waffles with fresh blackberries and maple syrup. And a fresh strawberry parfait. Happiness.

Next: "Ex-Boss"

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