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During the early days of 2020, my husband and I received an odd email from our middle child, Anna, who was, at the time, in her last semester of college. Just like her mother, Anna had earned the title “Class Clown” in high school, so we knew from the first line that her email had been written tongue-in-cheek.

It went a little something like this:

“Dear Mother and Father,

Today I have met with the harsh reality that I am almost out of college. Thoughts and emotions have flooded my mind, body and soul.

Soon, I will have to stop mooching off my parents. I only have a few months left of free laundry, a constant supply of lunch meat, and access to your cars at my leisure.

Soon, I will enter the real world. More questions bombard my confused conscience. How does health insurance work? How much do gym memberships cost? How do I file my tax returns? Where will I live? How will I afford it? Do I still call grown ups “Mr.” and “Mrs.”? Should I require people younger or dumber than me to call me “Miss”? Should I experiment with my sexuality?

Soon, my whole world will be flipped upside down. What does this mean for us? Should I move out, struggle financially and mentally, then resent you for it? Should I come home so often that you begin to resent me? Should I start butting heads with Hayden and Lilly because it seems like adults enjoy having emotional turmoil with their siblings? Are you going to kick me off of our phone plan and leave me out to dry? Will I have to live at home one day because Dad will be wheelchair-ridden due to his sciatica? Has mom ever loved me?

Soon, all of these questions will be answered whether I like it or not. Soon, I have to dive head first into adulthood. Soon, I will have to start buying my own lunch meat.

For now I will enjoy the little things in life, like being able to walk over to the health center when I have a cold. Attending frat parties. Sleeping until my class at noon. Reminding my parents to send me rent money.

Because soon, it will all be gone.

-- A creative writing piece by Anna Lynn Molinari. Enjoy.”

My husband and I chuckled at our daughter’s silly email. “You’re so hilarious,” I replied proudly to my class clown protege.

I filed the email in my “Miscellaneous” gmail folder, fully intending to access it in May 2020 when Anna would graduate from college. I envisioned reading it to relatives at a big graduation party, where we would all be toasting Anna’s success in college, and wishing her well in her first job as a junior fashion designer.

But, thanks to the pandemic, none of that happened.

The Class of 2020 was sent home early to finish their educations virtually. The fashion show where Anna’s capstone senior collection would’ve been presented was canceled, her graduation ceremony was canceled, hotel rooms were canceled, and parties were canceled. Job openings were canceled, and the retail industry tanked.

Time didn’t fly, and Anna wasn’t having fun.

Instead of flying the coop, Anna found herself cooped up in our cuckoo’s nest, with no career opportunities, working a lousy part-time job, and driving a beat up 2000 Ford Focus. No matter how many times we said, “stay positive, the industry will recover, you’ll make it,” Anna believed that being “institutionalized” with her parents at this pivotal moment in her life meant that she had arrived on the threshold of Hell.

But just when Anna resigned herself to sleeping on a trundle bed in her parents’ home asylum for the rest of her adult life, opportunity (now fully vaccinated) came knocking. In two weeks, Anna will pack up her belongings and fly the coop to New York City to her first real fashion design job.

With her sense of normalcy (and humor) finally restored, Anna thanked us for supporting her through her delayed transition to the “real world” and admitted, “But I still don’t understand how health insurance works.”

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com.

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