It’s 5:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I am back in Los Angeles in the house where I grew up, sequestered in the bathroom because I don’t want to wake up the dog, who will in turn wake up the rest of the house. But I had a story that wanted to come out, and I was lying awake in bed, and so the bathroom is where I will write today. I was going to make a joke that the bathroom is no different than the train car, but that’s not true…it’s much better.
Young Gregory is moving into Loyola Marymount University today. Our move-in time is 9am. I have been picturing this day in my head for a while, the first day of his next chapter, walking on campus smiling in the bright sunshine, with a slight breeze, in the blue skies of LA. I am sure he will feel truly like a young adult, taking a step into self-determination, feeling smart and optimistic, and excited for the future.
I can’t think of a better feeling than the one I know is coursing through him. I remember with such fondness my first week at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where I knew so few people and yet I made new friends so quickly. It was for me the feeling that all things were going right. I looked good, I felt good, and I was in a smaller world of campus that was like being on a cruise ship, where everyone is happy, having fun, and traveling together.
I don’t yet feel sadness for him leaving and the rest of the family being back at home. I am excited for him, and even sitting in this bathroom in the dark with not even the glimmer of sunlight outside, I am smiling for him. I am glad that all of the years of wondering how to pay for the kids’ college has finally come, and luckily we’re going to be alright. Those fears can finally subside, and what is left is pure joy.
So it’s all good. It’s all upside. As I think about it, I am probably more excited than him. But I know that this time in his life is wonderful. The experiences he will have and the environment he will live in will give him lasting friendships and memories that he will cherish forever. How can I not feel so proud and happy to give that gift to someone else? It’s funny, for the last number of years, we have used college as a big question, as a tool to scare him into getting good grades, to do well on tests, to be prepared so that he can attend a good school. It seemed like it was more of a stick than a carrot. But there is no stick. College is the best, and for my daughters who are in high school, college is a gift, and I hope they do well so they can enjoy this day when their times come. I know I will.