Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

He grew taller & fashion conscious December 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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FROM SEVERAL TRAFFIC LANES over, in the dimness of street lights and headlights, I could not spot him.

“There he is,” my husband said.

I craned my neck, peering through the windshield, trying to glimpse our son whom I had not seen since July 7.

“Where? I don’t see him.”

Try as I might, I could not locate my 20-year-old in the throng of passengers awaiting curbside pick-up at Terminal 2 of St. Paul-Minneapolis International Airport a week before Christmas. I’d never seen the terminal so busy with vehicles stacked across all lanes in near gridlock. At 11 p.m. on a Thursday.

I willed the monstrous white pick-up just ahead of us to the right to move. Move, will you, so I can see my boy.

The truck inched forward, finally clearing a view of a lean young man towering even taller than I remembered. No wonder I barely recognized him.

Chippewa boots have replaced athletic shoes.

Chippewa boots have replaced athletic shoes.

In six months, he’d grown. And his look, his clothes, had changed. He sported leg-hugging pants in rust-orange. Boots, not neon tennis shoes. A navy blue and white pom-pom stocking cap emblazoned with “Boston” topped his head. He’d ditched the ear muffs. His classic button down black wool coat had been replaced by a more trendy parka style jacket. And later, when he shed that outerwear, I noticed he was dressed in fashion conscious layers.

I’d been searching for a young man dressed like I remembered.

Eighteen months away from the Midwest, my son’s finally found his fashion niche. And I must say the new look suits this Tufts University computer science major-math minor student. He seems comfortable and confident sporting pants that aren’t jeans, in hues of rust, green and grey. I have yet to see him wear jeans since his arrival home on December 18.

Layers and "dinosaur footprints."

Layers and “dinosaur footprints.”

When I asked the other night about the design on his navy blue and white shirt, he said, “I just tell everyone they are dinosaur footprints.” They aren’t.

It doesn’t matter. He is simply happy to have found trendy and comfortable clothing that fits his six-foot-three (or some such height) slender frame. He sourced his colorful pants at Japanese retailer UNIQLO. Yes, I had to Google the name; I’m not fashion aware. He shops online, too.

This sudden awareness of fashion comes as a surprise to me. Only a year ago I waited outside a dressing room at Kohl’s as the son tried on a pile of sweaters and pants, rejecting most. Even getting him there had been a challenge. Clothes shopping has always been a challenge for him, mostly because he’s tall and slender and he’d rather do anything than shop.

In the year between then and now, he’s managed to find clothing that not only fits, but that he likes. He’s figured it all out on his own.

And bonus for me: Because he’s grown, I’ve now confiscated his flannel shirts, not that he would wear flannel anymore anyway. Flannel might be just a tad too Paul Bunyan Minnesotan for a college student in Boston.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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14 Responses to “He grew taller & fashion conscious”

  1. This is my favorite website…. thanks for bringing back the emotions that remember now so well.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    LOL!!!!! Your fledgling has flown!!! You have done the right things and the “launch” is a good one! Now…the blessing is to stand back as the wings become more outstretched……..to soar to places yet to be known and to, periodically, return to the nest to reconnect with those whom he loves and love him. Blessings to you all and thank you for warming my heart!!!

  3. Jackie Says:

    Isn’t fun to see our kids evolve, Sound like Caleb has gone “fashion forward”. Our Brice is the same way, only in a Minnesota-kind if way, still wear jeans but tighter, button down shirts and peacoat….so different, but I think a wife had something to do with it all, ha ha

  4. Beautiful – Happy New Year to You and Your Family 🙂 Here’s to New Adventures in 2015!!!

  5. Dorothy Bowman Says:

    Caleb turning east coast is great to me. I am sure when we came to MN from NJ we were dressed a bit different. The east coast is of course a bit different, as are other areas of the USA. He is certainly getting his own personality going. Yea to him. Love to all of you. Dorothy

  6. hotlyspiced Says:

    How lovely to have him home. And it sounds like he’s changed so much in six months. You must be so proud of how he’s managing on his own and how he’s developing his own style and taking an interest in his appearance. He’s growing up to be a fine young man and that’s a great thing. Happy New Year, Audrey, to you and all your family xx

  7. Great story of his arrival home for Christmas!
    Years ago I remembered being told boys of scandinavian descent don’t stop growing until there early 20’s. I hope Zak still has some growing to do….mine is not as tall as yours.
    And, I laughed so hard about him donating his flannel to you, Zak tossed an outgrown flannel on my clothes pile just yesterday, as he retrieved his folded clean laundry!
    Did he come home with a wicked accent?

    • Actually, my son is 100 percent German. The tall genes come from my side of the family, where all of the men are tall and so are some of the women, including me.

      As for the flannel, I retrieved it from his dresser several weeks ago when I realized it was there, he was in Boston and the shirts likely would no longer fit him. Today we’re sorting through the rest of his clothes, to donate those that no longer fit him.

      Nope, no Boston accent. Yet.


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