I have two of them to write about:
Two weeks from tomorrow my daughter will be home, and a month later she will leave again -- off to college for the THIRD time.
In August, she left with high hopes and a heart full of optimism for her freshman year of college at Tulane and for her life in a new city. She got blown hither and yon by Katrina, showed up back home minus most of her belongings, reoriented herself, and three days later was off for her freshman year of college at Willamette.
("Mom," she said when she got home, "I did everything I was supposed to do. I worked hard, got good grades, visited schools, took SATs, filled out forms and wrote essays and got recommendations, sorted through my acceptances, made a decision, graduated from high school, went to Linens 'N Things, packed up and drove 1000 miles -- and my college DISAPPEARED. What am I supposed to do with THAT?"
"Sweetheart, I have no idea," I responded. "No one does. But we'll figure it out." And we did. And we got on a plane bound for Portland. )
She has been so lucky. She arrived to a room with linens provided by Residential Services, goodies provided by Food Services, a welcome letter from the college president, and a roommate thrilled to meet her. Professors made room in their classes and gave her time to catch up on the week's work she had missed. She joined an intramural soccer team and started volunteering at the Salem Animal Shelter. She exchanged visits with one of her lifelong best friends who attends Reed, an hour from Willamette. She spent what looks from the photos to have been a delightful Thanksgiving with her roommate's family in southern Oregon.
And in two weeks it will all be over.
I could shout my pride in this child to the rooftops. She is a model of resiliency and cheerful adaptation. She has made wonderful friendships at Willamette, but she is looking forward to another start at Tulane, more new friends, new classes, and a chance to assist in the rebuilding of a city. Her attitude toward a college experience that is looking nothing like the one she had planned on is one of total aplomb.
But I will admit to some trepidation. I think it will be really hard. The transition from high school to college is something of a challenge in and of itself -- the end of one lifestyle, the reordering of relationships, the beginning of a new approach, and the creation of new bonds -- and now for these NOLA college kids, the same transition all over again, only a few months after the last one. When I looked at the Thanksgiving pictures, I wanted to cry -- the girls have become such good friends, and instead of three more years together, they get two weeks.
I posted something similar to this wail on a Tulane parents board and got little sympathy. Fair enough to call me on excessive hyperbole in the face of the suffering still faced by most NOLA residents. But I also realized from the responses that my daughter really has been the recipient of incredible generosity and good fortune. I would not be so sorry about her departure from Willamette had it not been such a positive experience for her.
As for my own transition, from my beloved AOL journal to this one -- well, bear with me. I have a tremendous amount of work to do in the next two weeks and the challenges of a new system are too time-taxing for me to undertake right now. I think I need a full day to move my life from AOL to my other server, and another full day to really set up shop here. I just have to remember that I had a steep learning curve at AOL as well, and it was a long time before I could create full-fledged entires there.
If my daughter can move back and forth across the country with so little consternation, I guess I can switch screens.