I am not a wreck. I am not even mildly weepy. I think taking Noah to college in 100-degree heat beat all that out of me. I did not want to linger and sob. I wanted to go to a dark cool place and drink beer. Which is what Mark and I did.
The process for moving your child into a dorm room is this: The father drives the student’s packed car to the front door of the dorm. After waiting in the car line for an hour. There are thousands of people doing the same thing. Everything in the car is deposited on the sidewalk where someone must guard it. You sign up for a cart and wait until your name is called. It’s 100 degrees and there is no shade. Meanwhile, the mother is attempting to put together the “loft” in the student’s dorm room with her son, along with the resident assistant, who is as nice as he can be because he doesn’t need to be messing with the mother of a freshman trying to put together a loft.
The father calls the student impatiently because the father has now unloaded the car and there is no one to guard the stuff. Student leaves. Mom and resident assistant wrestle the loft into the incredibly confined space that will be the student’s sleeping area. Mom now joins the student guarding the stuff. It becomes apparent that we will die of heat prostration while waiting for a cart. So Mom starts taking stuff to the dorm room – on the sixth floor. Mom hits on an ingenious plan. Instead of waiting in the extremely long line with the other Moms and Dads with massive amounts of stuff for one of the two elevators, we can bypass this line by taking the stuff up bit by bit, going to the head of the line and fitting in a small corner of the elevator not taken up by the massive stuff everyone is attempting to move on the precious but scarce carts. This is technically cutting in line.
But it worked. Within two hours, Noah was moved in.
So here he is. With extreme gratitude and a loving concern, he bluntly says: “Mom, you have to leave.” He is feeling that I am about to burst with sorrow and make a scene. But that is not it at all. My hair is one big clump of sweat. My legs are like jelly. Noah’s roommate, Austin, has just arrived and his parents are about to go through their own brand of move-in hell. Yes, it’s time to go. But I think it’s time to go. Have a beer.
Bye, bye, sonny boy. I am practically shoved out of the room, but I don’t care. Mark and I hightail it over to the Old College Inn. It’s dark and cool. There are a variety of beers on tap. And there are Metts and Beans, a Knoxville original that involves Navy beans, hot dog chili, a giant Mettwurst (like a Bratwurst), with sides of horseradish, chopped dill pickle and pumpernickel bread. Mark ate Metts and Beans as a college student at UT more than 30 years ago. He sighs with contentment. They are just the same.
So the day I had been dreading passed without a single tear. A friend wrote me on Facebook that not only would Noah’s ascent to college not be the end of the world, but that I would actually come to enjoy the return to “just the two of us.” I am feeling the love tonight. I think everything will be just fine.