Tuesday, August 27, 2013
We're just back from driving our girl to college for her sophomore year. It was an excellent overnight trip, all things considered, and even though I thought this time it would be just us and our girl shopping for dorm and school supplies, my son and my niece having graduated, it turned out we still had a crew: Our daughter's friend and the friend's boyfriend tagged along for the shopping trip on day one, and my heart son E., who is in his senior year at college in the same town, joined us for last minute, just remembered supplies on day two. E. is our neighbor in the city. He and our son have been best friends since they were babies; he and our daughter now have a sweet, bantering friendship as well. I'm glad he'll be in the same town as her for another year. I know if my daughter ever needed him, she would only have to call.
I enjoy having the crowds of young people in our car. It makes me feel more connected to the present, their present, not so wistful for what is past. I love hearing their rat-a-tat overlapping chatter in the backseat, my husband and me listening mostly without comment but occasionally catching each other's eye in a secret sidelong smile.
Our girl will have her own room this year. Her single is as tiny as her shared double last year was spacious. I mean tiny. But that wasn't the worst of it. My girl was ready to deal with a small room in exchange for having her own sanctuary, but none of us could have predicted the walls painted in a particularly unattractive and closed-in grayish-purplish-brown. I have no idea who thought that color was a good idea for college kids in a pressurized environment in a part of the country that is bitterly cold and grey for most of the school year. Really?
My daughter solved the space dilemma by hoisting one end of her bed on top of the chest of drawers and double stacking risers on the other end. Voila, space opened up! She moved the desk from in front of the dormer windows so that the hutch wouldn't block her view; made her little rented fridge a bedside table, and set out her DIY projects on the shelves—the painted Mason jars and jewelry tree and chalk board. She hung her colorful scarves as wall art, and by the time we came by to get her the following morning, the space looked vastly more navigable. She was cosy and comfortable on her high bed, even if she might have to make a running start to get on top of it (I'm exaggerating). She sent back a suitcase and a large plastic bin with us. The rest of her stuff fit neatly under the lofted bed or in the fairly large closet.
There was nothing to be done about the color of those walls, though. I offered to call and ask the residence life people to paint her walls white as a mental health issue. I was serious, too. "Mom," she said, hands on my shoulders. "Stop. It's not as if I'm the only one with walls this color. I'll figure something out." She plans posters and string lights with photos and postcards and art clipped along it with clothespins. She isn't worried. My husband said, "Did your parents ever even see your dorm room when you were in college?" He has a point.