Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dropping daughter off at college brings bittersweet feel-splosion

Last week I helped move my daughter into the dorms better than any of the other parents. You might not think it is possible for this to be competitive, and then again, you might not be American.

Some parents required multiple trips back and forth to the car, but I pulled off the elusive and coveted "one-tripper." Set my hand truck horizontal like a flatbed and Tom-Joaded the sucker. Stacked it like a Vegas deck. On the half-mile trek from the car to the dorms, nothing budged. Steinbeck would have penned a sonnet on sight.

Sending your firstborn out from under your roof for the first time is emotional, and in the absence of alcohol, requires a good stacking and hauling task to pull off. Dropping a kid off at college tends to induce flashbacks from her childhood; pincurls bouncing to her shoulders, daddy horseyback rides around the living room, squealing retreats from ocean waves, choir concerts in long black dress and faux pearls.

The elevator up to her floor was a rickety incitement to use the stairs, but necessary for our load. It is no accident that on the campus tour they only show you the ground floor.

We met her roommate, who is also a SoCal homegirl, and who has a car, a freshman luxury, considering the parking permit for a school year could fund a nice laptop.

The girls made forced small talk as I rolled around under the desk connecting the power strip to a half dozen miscellaneous chargers. My freshman year, the only phone I had access to was mounted on the dorm lobby wall. The only charging I did was the cafeteria line at dinner time.

Right after 9/11 I read about a little girl who died on the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. She was four. Turns out she'd been born only one day before my own daughter. She would have been heading to college this fall too. Maybe her mom would have helped her settle in, except her mom was on the same plane.

When the bed was made and the clothes put in drawers and the Wi-fi connected, I gave my girl a hug and I left. It was a long, hot walk back to the car. Lou Gehrig aside, I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

. . .