Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar, Bloomington, IN

Move-In Day. This is what mother’s are for (at least in this case). Invocation was at 2 PM, and Matt called me around 11, saying his room was finished. I went over and saw it – it’s an old dorm, one of the older buildings on campus, and Matt’s roommate, Issac Liu, is a Piano Performance major from Kentucky, with a formidable stack of books on his desk.They’ll get along just fine.

The room is small but cozy, with conveniences I didn’t dream of having at Clemson – a semi-private bath shared among two rooms of two students each, and private showers down the hall (Clemson, having been a military school at one point, featured the largest dorm in the United States, and it was an unspeakable dive that didn’t even have doors on the toilets).

After seeing Matt’s room, I said I was going to grab some lunch before invocation, and he said he was hungry too. “There’s a little place just a few steps outside your dorm,” I said, and so we went to Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar where I got a Jungle Juice Smoothie with mango juice, pineapple juice, mango, papaya, pineapple, and banana; Matt got a sandwich special of some sort, along with a Matcha Bubble Tea (freshman five, here we come). He finished his sandwich, and left to take a nap before invocation; this was my lunch, so I got a second drink – a Berry Berry Good Smoothie with apple juice, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and banana. These smoothies are delicious.

Since I was alone, I got him a $25 gift card (it’s a two-minute walk from his dorm – he’ll use it), then went looking for a CVS where I bought him a card about kicking ass and taking names. It was a mistake, since I ended up parking a half-mile away. Still, invocation is a great event and a moving ceremony. A thunderstorm threatened the post-invocation picnic, so I grabbed a Diet Coke, said goodbye to Matt’s mom and stepfather, shook Matt’s hand, and said “Okay, I’m off to Louisville – see you soon.” “See you soon,” he said, knowing it might not be all that soon. I had made him the promise – which I will keep – that anytime he wants, he can come home for the weekend, my treat, if he gets homesick, and also that I’m always only 24 hours away which is a trip I would make anytime, with pleasure – I seriously doubt he’ll take me up on it, but he knows the offer is there, and that’s what’s important. He’ll be just fine. Me, I’m a wreck, but that comes with the position.

I was off to Louisville, an empty nester, and truly alone for the first time in almost thirty years. The world was now at my feet, and I felt a crushing sense of responsibility I didn’t even know I was carrying melt away as I drove away from Bloomington. It was time to start my new life, and time for Matt to start his – but I’ll always be there for him no matter what. At the end of my drive awaited a 2015 James Beard Award Finalist.

Note: I actually returned to Soma in mid-October, 2015, during a flash visit to Matt at the end of a week-long trip with Thèrése and Francine (my mother-in-law and her sister from France, whom I took to the Grand Canyon for an 80th birthday gift – they’re both close enough where I made it a combined celebration); we stopped back in Indianapolis for one day to visit Matt (he’s grown about 1/4-inch since August!). Same smoothie for me – a Berry Berry Good – and once again, it was delicious. Warning: There are two Soma locations in Bloomington, and we found that out the hard way since “it” was our meeting place. This place has really good smoothies; I’ve never tried the coffee here despite it being primarily a coffeehouse.

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