Imagine singing this to a 12-bar blues riff: “My baby done gone away…, etc.”

We caravaned to Fayetteville yesterday and moved Evan into the dorm at the University of Arkansas.  It felt really weird.

We took the seats out of the old minivan and filled it will all his miscellaneous stuff.  Mel and I drove this while Evan drove his car behind us.  It was gloomy all day long and rain sprinkled on us off and on but at least it wasn’t hot.  The move-in had been carefully orchestrated by the university and was better organized and ran more smoothly than any event I have ever been to.  There were signs pointing us to a place to park (separate routes for those coming from the south and from the north), there were actually lots of student volunteers to unload the car, load the stuff onto rolling carts, and haul it up to his room.

It was amazing.

We were in the parking space for maybe five minutes when the van was magically emptied and I was told to move the car to a more permanent place which was provided further out.  I found my way up to his room and discovered him unpacking his stuff.  His roommate was already there but hadn’t been there long.  Since both our families had met at an earlier event, this was not the meeting of total strangers and not nearly as stressful as things were back in the day.  Mel sat down on the little loveseat thing that we put together out of patio furniture purchased on sale and watched.  Mel is famous for being an organizer and all Evan’s stuff was in boxes organized by type but this other kid’s mother put all that to shame.  She had put all the roommate’s stuff in rubbermaid totes that were labelled with their contents.  It was pretty nerdy actually.  She had even sent along a small dustbuster-class vacuum which I’m sure will never be used.

The Great Unpacking took only a couple of hours during which was got everything stowed away.  We then offered to take Evan to lunch and to a store to pick up one last thing.  We had brought a piece of coax to hook up the TV with but it turns out the outlet is far from his desk and so we needed a longer one. Other than that, there was nothing more to do.  We considered various alternatives but since there was already two events Evan needed to go to (one of which included a barbecue), we dropped him off and watched as he walked in the door.  That was the last we saw or heard from him. 

I’ve been feeling melancholy ever since.

I realize he’s not totally gone and I realize that this is all in the natural order of things but it’s still a big milestone and my job as a parent has just changed drastically.  I used to dream of this day back when he was busy waking me up in the middle of the night but that seems pretty insignificant now.  I found myself wondering what to do with myself and then it hit me that “Hey! I’ve got another kid still!”  We drove home in silence for the most part – both of us thinking about all this. We got home just after Erin got home from school and immediately started dealing with her life which had experienced a mild upheaval during the day.

He said he’d be home for Labor Day although I’m not sure why.  I never came home for labor day because there wasn’t anything to do at home but the situation has changed since 1978.  Fayetteville was (and is) crawling with things to do.

That isn’t the only change. I don’t recall anybody’s parents ever visiting the dorm when I was going to school there.  Nobody I know ever had any parents visit them except perhaps to help them move out in the spring and usually not even that.  But nowadays, the place is crawling with parents.  There are organized events for us although during one of these, we were warned against being “helicopter” parents.  I guess this segment of society has changed a lot.  Even with this; however, we were encouraged to purchase tickets for parent weekend.

So the boy has moved out.  I guess he wants to come back on Labor Day to see for himself that we haven’t converted his bedroom into a craft room or home office.  We’ll leave it the way it is for awhile although we may clean it out some.  All this will quickly get shoved aside in my mind since Erin gets her driver’s permit in a couple of weeks and we’ll have to start letting her start driving the car.

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