Son’s latest adventure has me a bit nervous

I’m worried, faithful readers. There are those who will contend this isn’t an unusual a state of mind for me. The difference here is that I’m worried about my son.
Why is that unusual? Well, he’s currently backpacking around Europe on a dime, just as decades of youngsters — including his father before him — have done. And you might swiftly assure me that it’s perfectly normal to worry. In truth, it’s not. I have an odd track record of reasonable nonchalance when my son begins to wander.
At 16, this same son went off to Nicaragua for six weeks, out of phone and computer range. I missed him like mad, but somehow I didn’t worry. At 18, he went across the country to school. I didn’t really worry about him then either. Next he was off to Germany for a semester to study. Nope. No real concerns about him then, either. It appears I have been saving it all up for this latest sojourn.
Never mind that he is older and hopefully wiser. Never mind that he has traveled Europe before. Never mind that he can speak enough German and Spanish to read signs and menus. I am not sleeping as well as I’d like.
My rationale seems sound to me. In Nicaragua, he had Amigos de las Americas watching his back. At college, he was in the dorm and, mostly, on campus. Even in Germany, he was still affiliated with the university, and even on his side trips, he was able to stay in apartments of friends of a friend and such.
This is the very first time he has struck out with no safety net of any kind and it scares the good sense out of me. This time, there will be no dorms, apartments or even a cheap hotel. This time, everything he owns is on his back and he is staying in hostels with, well,  gee, who knows who. Never mind that he is with three big, strong buddies. I have enough worry to go around for all of them.
It’s enough to make a mother remember every horror story she has ever heard — ever — about pickpockets, international thieves, spy rings, terrorists and half-crazed nut jobs. And she might even find her imagination making up a few new ones.
I’ll be forced to find something new to worry about next week when he lands back in San Diego, but this may be a long few days for me. At least then I will get to see him for, oh, maybe 24 hours if we’re lucky. He may even be awake for some of it.
I know better than to try to compete with the lure of the girlfriend and a new apartment in Boston. He’ll be on the first possible plane east, but at least he will be far less likely to wander across the wrong border and get tossed in jail, or lose his passport and money and be at the mercy of foreign governments.
I am counting on you not to rat me out. I have my reputation at stake. If he asks, I will say, “Me, worry? When have I ever worried about you?” You don’t think my quivering chin and my death grip on his shirttail will give me away, do you?


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