I make it all the way to the threshold before freaking out. Past the cornfields, the classic New England barns and farm stands hawking apples and fresh sweet corn. It’s when we’re cresting the rise and see the frontage road to the college (“Turn left in one quarter mile…,” quoth Jane the electronic navigator) that it hits me: this is it. I’m dropping my daughter off for college.
Now you’re panicking?” Miranda’s voice carries a tinge of it’s-about-time.
We roll to a stop at the intersection, where an unconventional young man with jangly earrings bounces out from the roadside greeting tent to meet us with enthusiastic howdy’s and welcomes. He points us where we need to go. Miranda glances at the cryptic tattoo running the length of his thigh and says “Nice tattoo.” She means it. He blushes appreciatively.
She’s got a goofy sort of smile on once we’re rolling again. “Yeah, I’m in the right place.”
“The Doors of Durin.”
“His tattoo. The Doors of Durin. One of the Gates of Moria. Tolkien.”
The rest of the morning is filled with these little connections. Moving in, Max down the hall notes the Shakespearean connections between new neighbors Miranda and Olivia and decides that maybe instead of Max, he should be Benvolio. I voice approval of these first-day-of-college nicknames, and a debate ensues as to whether he actually survives the play.
By lunchtime we’ve chatted with Peter, Paul and Kiva, Corrin, Aria, Avalon and all those other names I can’t remember. We’ve talked about jumping spiders (consensus: cool!) vs scorpions (consensus: not cool!), the life of a Muppeteer (consensus: very cool) and the New England heatwave that invariably accompanies moving in day (consensus: it really is the humidity).
The kids’ conversation turns to whether it’s better to view “Ant Man” as a crappy superhero movie or a reasonably good comedy, and I realize that, in so many ways, my work here is done. There’s a welcome ceremony and outdoor dinner tonight where we get to say our official goodbyes, but that’s pro forma. I let Miranda know I’m going to retreat to the air conditioning of the family lounge – she can text me if she needs anything – and exit, stage left.