Move-in Day and the Ties that Bind

Move-in Day.

She’s officially a sophomore.

Today her grandmother asked me how old someone I knew who was a child when Aub was a baby is now.  My first response was, “Ummm, maybe early 20’s?”  Then it hit me that she was several years older than my girl, and my girl is almost–gulp–19.

Well, when on earth did that happen?

Today we loaded up things she’s had packed up since May and things she’s used all summer into two vehicles and drove the 40 minutes to my alma mater and hers.  As I drove I thought back to move-in day last year.

So very different this year.

First, the weather.  A gorgeous but hot sunny day.  Last year, the rain was plentiful and had folks ducking and dashing with suitcases, boxes, refrigerators, TVs, and books by the backpack-ful.  Today the only thing we dashed for was the shade.

Last year she moved in with all of the other freshmen in her class.  Today, it looked like Aub was the only one moving in.  She’s an Orientation Leader this year, and training starts tomorrow afternoon.  It was a breeze getting things out of the vehicles parked right at the entrance to her new dorm.  No weaving around folks in the hall.  No making conversation with others or seeing all of the door decorations the young women brought with them.  Aub’s door was the only one with a name on it.  The halls are M-T, empty.

My girl's room for the next ten months.
My girl’s room for the next ten months.

This year our whole crew moved her up.  Last year we had the helping hands and giving spirits of our dear friends helping us out while my Fella was deployed.  They were missed and thought of often today, especially as my girl was unpacking her clothes.  I kept saying things could be hung up, but she missed her sweetheart friend who helped her organize her drawers last year.  Ah, well, there’s still time.

The best thing different were the tears.  Or lack thereof.  Last year’s move-in was especially hard.  This young woman who continues to amaze me had been through the wringer the two years prior to moving to college, losing people we love so dearly AND working to graduate from high school in three years.  She was emotional and sad and anxious.  All normal under the best of circumstances.  I remember Cooter standing by the window, forlornly saying, “We just didn’t have enough time together.  I wish I’d been born sooner.”

Today there was laughter and inspecting and questions and helping.  Our Princess told me as we carried up Load Number Umpteen that she was thinking that maybe if there were students who were missing their families, she could help cheer them up.  I don’t know if she means now or when she attends Wesleyan as a member of the Class of 2027 (and rest assured this WILL happen), but if anyone can make that happen, it’s her.  I explained that this is sort of what her big sister will be doing as an Orientation Leader, and that made her very happy.

My least favorite thing that was the same was the third floor.  Last year, third floor.  This year, the same. Only different building.  Those stairs.  Y’all.  I didn’t know what great shape I must have been in when I was traipsing up and down those flights of stairs my whole freshman year.  As I huffed and blew today, granted I was carrying some heavy loads, I remembered the exact feel of those steps and how I could do a bouncy thing down and make them in record time when necessary.

The exact feel of those exact steps.

My college sophomore is living in what was the freshman dorm when I was there.  And–

she’s living in part of my room.


It’s okay.  You can laugh.  Make fun.

But yes, I am that Mama.  This bit of coincidence makes me happy.  Very happy.  It’s not just good–in the words of my nephew, it’s great.

That window.  The same one that was in front of my bed my freshman year.  This brings me such joy, you don't even know.  Yeah, I'm that Mama.
That window. The same one that was in front of my bed my freshman year. This brings me such joy, you don’t even know. Yeah, I’m that Mama.
Aub's sink is in my closet.  This tickles me so much.
Aub’s sink is in my closet. This tickles me so much.

In the space of what was three separate rooms my freshman year, they have remodeled and turned those three into a suite with two bedrooms and a bath in between.  So she has part of my room in hers.  The window in front of my bed where the radiator sat all those years ago is in front of her study area.  Her sink is in what used to be my closet.  Which makes me giggle and I have no idea why.  Of course there are very few actual similarities to my old room.  The radiator that was a faithful place to dry dishes or store things until the day they announced they were turning them on is gone.  (What a furor and mad rushing from class that announcement caused–so many things stored on those radiators.)  The ceiling fans on the lowered ceilings serve to stir around the air-conditioned air, something we knew nothing about.  Box fans in the windows were our best friends.  The community bathrooms are gone to be replaced by a shower and private bath with double vanities.  Very fancy.  The hallways no longer have the shellacked looking slick floors–now they are carpeted with chair railing on the wall and lovely sconces lighting the hall.  So much has changed, and yet…..

my girl is living in my old room!

The hallway--I wandered down it, hearing echoes from the past.
The hallway–I wandered down it, hearing echoes from the past.

That’s how I’ve thought of it since she told me where her room was.  And I couldn’t help smiling today and wandering the halls, listening to the echoes of the past.  I even found the door to my room on the first floor of the same dorm unlocked–the room where I lived as a Resident Assistant my junior year.  I had a wonky-shaped bathtub in my private bathroom that I loved.  Sigh. It’s been replaced by a tile shower.

Ah well.

What a wonderful trip down memory lane today.  I take those trips often, sometimes they are happy, sometimes nostalgic, and sometimes, depending on the song on the radio, downright painful.  But today–

it was great.

I am thankful my girl is there.  I hope it will be a place that she will return to as I have for strength and confidence and comfort.  I’m hoping that she will form friendships, as I have been so lucky to do, that will last her through all kinds of changes in her life.  I want her to find people to love and who love her who will always be willing to hear her story.  No matter what.  And her theirs.  I want her to one day, maybe when she’s moving her own legacy in, hear the echoes of her own happy past at this wonderful place.

As we were leaving today, door locked, and heading down the hall, I turned back and said, “Oh no, we should have blessed your room or something!”  I was thinking of lovely words written by folks like Thom Shuman who make things seem filled with peace and good things–and that’s what I want for her for this year.

But my girl wasn’t following me.  She laughed.  “You want to lay hands on my room or something?”

Ah well, maybe not.  But I did get in the retort, “No, I want to put a curse on your doorstep that any boy who tries to enter will be–‘Petrificus Totalis’!”  Yeah, Cooter’s all about those Harry Potter spells.  I’ve got them down.

She walked away, “I’m not listening.”  Ha.  Yeah you were.

As we left for home, I thought about it.  I didn’t need to say anything to “bless” that room.  It already has been.  By all the voices and stories and joys and sorrows that the room has seen over the years.  All of those stories will be joined by the ones Aub and her sweet suitemate make this coming year.  Our stories are all connected, over time, by a shared love–of learning, of our sisters, and of making a difference in this world.

And after all, I think it’s those connections, those relationships, those ties that bind–that’s what really blesses us in this life.

Giving thanks for my sisters in spirit tonight–who embraced me and continue the tradition by embracing my girl.

Love to all.


7 thoughts on “Move-in Day and the Ties that Bind”

      1. They are keeping them busy–I saw the schedule, but I asked Aub to run over and see if it’s unlocked if she gets a chance. I was in 206 my sophomore year, and I don’t think they have renovated them since, from what I saw a couple of years ago. It’s a good sized room with a bathroom connecting to the other one. She will be facing the parking lot and Wortham since I’m pretty sure that’s on the same side as mine was. Very possible she might have windows towards the new chapel too, but I can’t be sure. Thinking that’s the corner room across from the stairwell? Is she rooming with someone or will she have a private room? She will LOVE living in Jones. That was a good year. (Well, they all were actually.) If we don’t get pictures, I’m sorry, but she will try.
        Hope your move-in day is a good one. Sending you best wishes and a big hug, Mama! Please tell your Pirate I said have a great year and I’m thinking about her. 😉

      2. Thanks for the description! She has a single, and is adjoined to her previous roommate who has a shared room. J says Thank you!

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