Freshmen moved into the university last Saturday. Apparently it is tradition for all faculty and staff to show up on freshman move-in day and help out. I convinced Jay that no one would fault him for spending the day with his infant son (and wife) rather than helping, but we did think it would be fun to swing by and view the bedlam from afar.
I had a visceral reaction. I think I actually shuddered.
That is one of those events that I’m glad I will never have to relive. It wasn’t the actual process of moving in at DePauw that was awful—it was the anticipation of it. And as if the weeks leading up to move-in day weren’t bad enough, I then got to stew and fret over the whole business during the five-hour car ride to get there. (Although we may have stayed with my grandparents in
Timing is always an issue. Get there too early and you risk looking too eager and totally un-cool. (Like I had anything to worry about. You should see what I was wearing that day. There was very little else that was going to harm my cool factor). Get there too late and you risk missing out on the bonding process with your floormates.
Attitude is serious business, too. If you seem to gregarious, you risk looking un-cool (Unless, of course you’re wearing the outfit I was wearing. Then you save everyone the trouble of having to make a determination about whether or not you are cool). Act too aloof and people think you’re a snob.
The parents are another factor. How long is too long for them to stay? How involved is too involved when it comes to helping you try to get organized? (I don’t remember this being an issue. My parents balanced everything quite well. However, several weeks later my mom saw an episode of Oprah featuring mothers who were paralyzed with grief after leaving their children at college. My mom had some guilt about not being as torn up as Oprah’s moms were. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t bitter that she didn’t break down at the car when we said goodbye).
Of course, in hindsight, none of this made any difference at all. It just happened that those were the only things over which I felt I had some control in an otherwise overwhelming situation. In reality, everyone was way too involved in their own business to take much notice of anyone else. That would take a day or two.
Much to my surprise, I actually survived move-in day, but it wasn’t without its special moments. I had already corresponded with my roommate by letter, so we weren’t total strangers. But I think both sets of parents chuckled inside when I pulled out my “Phantom of the Opera” and “Gone With the Wind” posters while Gwen pulled out her muscle car posters. And when I pulled out my Bible and put it on my desk while Gwen pulled out her empty bottles of SoCo and arranged them on her desk as decoration. Despite our obvious and massive differences we got along swimmingly. So well, in fact, that in my later RA years I had very little sympathy for roommates who couldn’t seem to make things work out.
But moving in? You couldn’t pay me to do that again.