Last week was a rite of passage for me. No, it was not breeching, smarty pants. Nor was it completing my Rumspringa, something you are sure to Google and to which there is no end in sight. What I did last week was take part in the compulsory and sometimes traumatic Western middle-age ceremony known as “Dropping Off Your Firstborn at College.”
Wow, does the time go fast. It seems like just yesterday I was cleaning up the pasty Vaseline and baby powder concoction Thing 1 spread liberally about herself and her childhood bedroom. Now here I am launching her three states away with the freedom and independence to do the same in an Indiana dorm full of strangers. Pardon me while I dab my eye.
Wanting to make said event especially memorable, we conspired to do something unique. We considered swimming from Cuba to Florida, but some old gal did that already—not to mention about 400,000 Cubans. We finally settled upon making the trip on my motorcycle which, we eventually discovered, lacked the required cargo space needed to transport the private possessions of a middle-class American female teenager. We thus enlisted the help of The Queen Mother and Thing 2, who would follow a day later in the family truckster loaded to the hilt with shoes and hair-care products.
The plan was to saunter over the span of two days from Minnesota through rural Wisconsin and its plenteous deerpee.com billboards on our way to Milwaukee (The Bell’s Palsy Capital of the Upper Midwest part of Central Wisconsin), where we would then ferry across Lake Michigan to Muskegon and eventually end up in Holland, MI, the residence of my own aged and predictable parental units from which I, myself was launched just [mumcoughble] years before. After a day of rumpanbum recovery, we would meet up with the remaining familial elements and drive together in the truckster to her school, located in Middleofnowhere, Indiana, toss her out, then return home with a couple of things we haven’t had in a while: silence and elbow room.
The plan worked according to plan, except that sauntering through Wisconsin took longer than expected because every time I saw a sign that said “Lots for Sale” I had to stop and see what they were selling. It was an entertaining drive and we came up with nicknames for the county roads in Wisconsin, uncreatively named only with letters. For example, County Rd R became “The Pirate Road” and OO became “Mistaken Drive.” We were also able to stop and see Lake Winnebago, named for the numerous RVs that surround it, and climb TIMm’s Hill, named for a Minnesota blogger and the highest point in Wisconsin from which you can see many other points in Wisconsin that are slightly lower.
From Holland, we drove together in the truckster under circumstances that were only slightly more overcrowded than a California prison. Pulling up to the university itself was a bit surprising, as it was largely constructed of brick and not gold-plated platinum as the tuition bill led us to believe.
As soon as we stopped we were pounced upon by innumerable T-shirted volunteers who resembled scrubbing bubbles as they cleaned our vehicle of any and all possessions, transferring them into a random third-floor dorm room. There, we set to work for the next several hours organizing the various furniture items, shoes and hair-care products.
And, of course, no college drop-off is complete without spending a few hours and a month’s salary at one of your finer super-duper department stores. There we purchased things that every college kid needs and yet are not likely to use like cleaning supplies, trash receptacles, and soap. And, having to support a female college student, a second month’s salary was spent on purchases that male students can live without: things like window treatments and sheets and vegetables as well as the last minute impulse buys of shoes and new and improved hair-care products.
The evening hours found us in an “Orientation Ceremony” wherein the academia mucky-mucks told us that we are suddenly poor for a very good reason and that their college is better than most at cashing checks. After that we met the faculty of the major chosen by the students and hob-nobbed, even though I have no idea what that means. No word on when we get to meet the faculty of the major to which said student switches $120,000 later, six credits from graduation, and having spent a summer hitchhiking through Europe with some guy named Jürgen in order to “find herself.”
We then went to dinner and stuffed a week’s worth of calories down Thing 1’s gullet before she began her balanced diet of mac ’n’ cheese and Ramen noodles. After a quick family photo under the university sign, we said our tearful good-byes that were surprisingly tear-free and rather anticlimactic and, true to our familial characteristics, included a discussion of whether or not anti-climactic is spelled with a hyphen.
So ends one phase of our lives and yet, with that end comes new beginnings: one of which is turning her now empty bedroom into a golf simulator. Just as soon as I clear out the remaining shoes. And hair-care products.