If you asked my grandmother for seconds of the creamed corn before she had a chance to offer you more (which would mean you were exceptionally quick), you'd be branded a lover of creamed corn, a person who can't get enough creamed corn, even if the only reason you wanted more creamed corn was because you hadn't eaten since breakfast and your stupid brother just took the last of the mashed potatoes. If you have one conversation with someone and he talks exclusively of, say, the basketball playoffs, you might reasonably infer that he is a basketball fanatic. Or it could be that he just watched an exciting playoff game and is still caught up in the moment. That's two clumsy analogies in one week, but that's what it's like to talk with Chloe on the phone or online or in e-mail. If I talk to her when she's exhausted from studying early fifteenth-century Spanish philosphers for a final, in Spanish, and she's certain that she's not only not learning anything, but that everything she's ever learned is being hoovered out of her brain, it's easy to assume that she's having a terrible week when she may be just having a fleeting moment of frustration, and that's the moment we happened to talk, especially when I won't talk to her again for a few days or so. What I write are my perceptions and inferences, based on limited conversations, which may or may not be accurate. And here are some more.
One thing I hoped for this year is that Chloe would discover that studying and living abroad is not impossibly exotic. Today she half-jokingly said she wanted to go to college in Italy. She seemed to broach the subject as if I'd be opposed, but she'd temporarily forgotten that I'd asked her near the beginning of the exchange if she'd thought about going to college in Europe. She'd said yes, maybe for a quarter or something. I said no, I mean for a year or maybe even the whole time. No way, she said. Several months later, she's changed her mind. It's working: she's learned that her options don't stop at the state line or the US border. She doesn't have to go to college in Europe or Argentina, but she can if she wants to. And if she can find a way to pay for it.
Steve, on the other hand, very nearly had a heart attack when I mentioned this conversation. Then I reminded him that she still has a year of high school left after she returns, and if she studied abroad it probably wouldn't be until her junior year. That gives him enough time to prepare to cross that bridge. And then, don't you just know, we'll start again with the "But I thought it was just for a quarter!"