Two similar but different moments from my life centered around school move in days.
|Come Here, Boy
The parking lot is packed and the sight is typical of any college dorm move in day. I climb out of my dad’s van (the one we lovingly refer to as the big ass van) and timidly walk up the cement stairs to the check in desk to find out my room assignment and get the room key. I take in the atmosphere around me: some dance students congregating around the front entrance, a few drama students talking about some obscure Tennessee Williams play, and some of my fellow film students standing around the check in table discussing the latest David Lynch picture. In short I feel immediately at home and completely intimidated.
“Hi, welcome to the Summer Session,” the guy behind the table says.
“Where are you coming from?”
“Uh, Garner,” I say, staring down at the table, trying not to make eye contact (for some reason I have a really hard time making eye contact with anyone I meet for the first time).
“Oh cool, yeah, I’m from that area too.
“I went to Clayton High,” he says.
“Oh really,” I say, finally making eye contact. Good, I think, someone who understands what it means to actually be here.
“That’s really cool, yeah, I’m glad someone is actually from around where I live. You can probably understand my need to get away from that place.”
“Yeah, probably more than you realize,” he says as he hands me my key.
“You’re in E- 306.”
I smile and grab my key. I let out a small sigh of relief and walk over to my parents, who are standing outside the exit next to a man sitting in a golf cart.
I am standing on the brick walkway out in front of Albright -Benton, the first dorm I stay in for my first year of actual college. My dad is backing the “big ass van” into the closest handicap spot (due to a case of meningitis, he lost the use of his feet in 2001) and my brothers and I are standing close by to move into position to start moving my things out of the back seat. My mom is standing behind us, quietly taking in the atmosphere. We go into the Benton side of the building and walk down into the large common area where two large picnic tables are stationed. RA’s sit patiently and wait for students to come and sign in.
“What’s your name?” the RA asks me as I approach the table.
“Max Kath, K-A-T-H,” I say, looking him directly in the eye.
“Oh, you’re one of my residents. I’m your RA, Jonathan.” I nod my head and smile.
“I guess that’s why you added me on Facebook.”
“Yeah, I like to try and get to know my residents before they move in.”
“That’s a good idea,” I say, feigning interest in what he’s saying.
“Yeah, well anyway, here’s your key and remember to take a gift cup,” he says handing me a cup filled with pencils, pens, and a cheap piece of plastic attached to a purple string to put my student ID in. I walk out of the common room and over to my mom and brothers.
“Your father is getting tired, so we should probably get your stuff up the stairs,” my mom says.
“Okay, we can do that,” I say, nodding my head.
We walk out the door and over to the bench where my dad is sitting, holding on to the hand cart we brought from home that holds my TV and trashcan full with my alarm clock and some books from home.
“We ready to go?” he asks.
I nod my head. “Yeah, I just got my key and this nifty cup full of crap.”
I am riding on a golf cart with a man who seems to be in his late forties with my suitcase and television carefully placed on the back. We are traveling toward the dorm rooms via a small courtyard.
“So, what are you here for?” he asks me.
“Film,” I say, turning to face him.
He nods his head in approval, “Oh really, my son goes here for that. For real that is, he came to this thing one summer and fell in love with it. When he came home he told me that he found where he wants to go to school. He applied and they must have remembered him ‘cause they accepted him right then and there during his interview.”
“That’s pretty cool,” I say. “Does he enjoy it here?”
“Oh, he loves it.”
We arrive at our destination which is at the bottom of a small staircase. My family is waiting for me at the top. Dad has parked the van on the other side of the dorm (there was a tunnel that led to the other side) and they look exhausted.
“There are people who are going to help us take your stuff up,” my dad says.
“Okay, I’ll take my TV and suitcase up and then come back down to help you,” I say.
“Okay, hurry up.”
I grab my stuff off the back of the golf cart and walk up the stairs.
We are walking down a long hallway in the Albright-Benton dorm toward the door that leads into my room. I unlock the door and my roommate is already there. He is unloading his clothes into one of the closets.
“Oh, hi,” I say, somewhat surprised to see him there.
“Hey, I’m Matt,” he says, extending his hand, “nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too,” I say grabbing his hand. “Where are you coming from?”
We are sitting at a lunch table in the dining hall of the school. I am eating a plate of pita bread and hummus while my family eats pizza and soup. I take in the atmosphere around me and let out a gasp of excitement.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” I say.
“Your mother and I are so jealous,” my dad says. “We would have killed to come to some place this cool growing up.” I smile at this.
“You know, this is going to be your first time away from home for this long,” my mother says to me.
I sit silently for the briefest of seconds.
“Yeah, I was just thinking about that….”
We are walking back to the big ass van after we have finished lunch. My father walks slowly and we make frequent stops so that he can catch up to us. We make it halfway to the car when my mom turns to face me.
“You know, your father is awfully tired and we got you unpacked quicker than we thought so I think we may just skip the tour and head on home,” she says to me. The reality sets in quicker than I thought it would.
“Okay, that’s cool,” I say as nonchalantly as possible. “I guess I’ll just go back to my room and rest before the tour.”
“Okay,” she says. We all stand still for a few moments and take in the air.
“Well I guess this is going to be it for five weeks,” she says.
“Yeah,” I say, nodding my head, “I guess so.” I let out a sigh and fiddle around in my pockets. I take one more mental snapshot of my family before they leave and then I embrace my mother.
“I guess this is it,” she says, tears streaming down her eyes.
“I’ll be okay,” I say, smiling.
“I know,” she says. We stare at each- other and then I hug my dad and brothers.
“We’ll see you in a few weeks,” my dad says to me. We hug for an extended amount of time and then we let go. They walk off toward the van, and I head back to my room with a sinking feeling setting into my stomach.
I am standing back outside of Albright –Benton with the rest of my family. We are in a small circle discussing what is going to happen for the rest of the day.
“Okay, so we are going back home tonight. If you need anything just give us a call,” my mother says.
“I will indeed,” I say, impatiently. “You guys drive carefully.” My dad laughs at this. There is a long moment of silence while my dad and I stare at each- other.
“Come here, boy,” he says to me as he pulls me towards him. We embrace for what seems like forever.
I say my final goodbyes, and head back into the dorm. The independence is overwhelming.