Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Tetris pilgrimage

These last couple of weeks are special times for parents all over the world as their college progeny make the trek homeward for summer break. Now if you are VERY fortunate, you are past this stage of your life already. If you are only moderately lucky, your special student ‘s dorm is just across town and though inconvenient, an easy move in only 3 or 4 trips. Now if you are on the fire hydrant side of a dog’s lucky totem pole, your kid’s college is a 1000 miles away like mine, and the pilgrimage home must be contained to a single carload of cargo and occupants.

Now we thought we were really smart when we suggested our daughter should leave her dorm stuff in a storage unit for the summer. This would make the trip home far easier and the return trip next Fall even better. We were thrilled that our kid stepped up and ordered a pod storage unit delivered to the school, packed it herself, and paid 3 months storage in advance. Wow this college thing is really working out – all that responsibility learned in a single year?! To add to her independent experience, we also agreed to meet her in Dallas, about 5 hours north of her school. This would give her an opportunity to drive cross- country on her own for awhile but then let us take over and complete the final 700 miles together back to St. Louis.

Now my daughter’s car is a mid-sized coupe but hardly has any trunk space. My wife and I packed very lightly for a couple days with a small travel case and two laptop computers between us. I advised my daughter as to our flight schedule and where to meet, along with our meager baggage requirements. My wife and I were of course thrilled and proud to see the kid round the airport drive, confidently arriving perfectly on time. Given Dallas traffic, especially after a long car ride of her own – WOW this was prompt precision! I cannot believe THIS COLLEGE RESPONSIBILITY THING is working out so great?!

As the car pulled closer to the curb, we could see my daughter’s head but she was surrounded by things? My first thought was – that’s ok, the trunk will have space, but it was stuffed full. The back seats were occupied too by hard crates and a violin case along with a plethora of plastic bags full of dirty clothes. The car looked like a motorized version of a homeless person’s shopping cart. The front passenger seat had a back-pack, purse, more bags of dirty clothes, a couple of long handled squirt guns and a lacrosse stick. I mean where were WE to sit, much less the baggage that we had brought? Our kid seemed exasperated that we had expected to ride INSIDE the cabin for the next 700 miles? Oh and the dirty clothes – why wash the last couple of weeks when heading for home?

My daughter stacked, stuffed and somehow made room for us in her cargo coupe’s summer pilgrimage. We had stuff behind or heads, under our knees, and on our laps. I was at a loss to imagine what the inside of that storage pod looked like. How could one kid build up all this stuff in only 9 months? Yeah, maybe the kid’s planning and thinking ahead skills still need some work, but I’m sure that the fancy college education has already paid off. With our daughter’s now proven superior spatial perception, she surely has a bright and lucrative future career stacking boxes or playing Tetris!

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