Dropoff Success

We arrived at Carige Dorm at UNC last Friday at 9:30 AM.  Right on time.  We took two cars.  Stephanie drove her silver Honda Civic.  We couldn’t fit the wares and three humans in one.  Most of Michelle’s belongings were stuffed in my SUV, all seats down. 

It’s sort of amazing how much one can fit in a dorm room.  They ain’t large.  Michelle warned me, she looked up the measurements.  Wall to wall: 12’ x 13”.  Our living room rug is two feet longer and three feet wider than her entire living space – that she shares with another co-ed!  But, she’s young, and it’s nice to be able to high five your roommate without getting out of bed.

My first house had one bathroom.  The ceiling was slanted over the toilet.  You had to lean back if you peed standing up.  It was actually a nice abdomen stretch.

Dropping a kid off at school is sort of like walking to a flogging.  The criminal is dreading it as well as the flogger.   The uncertainty for her, the anxiousness for me.  How could I leave my kid alone in this unfamiliar place?  Michelle decided to ride with Stephanie, fearful of my frame of mind.  Who knew if Butterfly Kisses might cue up on Spotify, a sure tearfest to follow.

God works in mysterious ways.  An August, 100 degree day and a sixth floor dorm room help alleviate emotion.  It felt like we were moving into Satan’s attic.  Any water that might pour out of my tear ducts was redirected to my armpits.

Being your typical dad, I refused to take the elevator.  The staircase was much closer to the car, and I was too impatient to wait my turn.  I had a job to do and nothing would get in my way. 

I heaved the largest Tupperware bins on my shoulders and hiked the flights of stairs to the top floor, young bucks holding doors for me.  In retrospect, maybe I was trying to keep up with them, the handsome young fellas who I used to be – more girth in the shoulders than the waist.  No doubt in my mind that i was a fit a they.

A friend warned me to bring a second t-shirt, he had moved his son in the day before.   I’m not a big sweater” I told him.  I was wrong.

I prayed for strength.  I hoped her mother’s spirit would come out – strength, grit, and courage to fly.  I couldn’t be with her, but Lisa could.

It worked! 

We unloaded, hauled, unpacked and “decorated” like champs.  It was fun!  We enjoyed the time and her roommate’s family.  After lunch we walked back to the dorm.  We hugged in the lobby of Craige.  We both welled up, our masks helpful in hiding our fears – then, Stephanie and I exited quickly.  My middle kid put her hand on my back as we walked down the cement walkway to the parking deck.  We didn’t talk, but she knew. 

I held the emotion until I got back to my car.   It wasn’t pretty.  

 It’s been a transition for me and a transition for her.  But surprising to us both, all is calm.

Next we launch Julie’s two:  Virginia and Scotland.  In September, we rest. 


Pepper’s Pizza and Great Memories

Posted by Danny

I got a hunkering to hit Chapel Hill tonight.  Although a N.C. State man, I have a warm spot in the heart for the Heels.  Lisa went there, and I have some very fond memories of hanging out with the ADPis on Franklin Street.

Parking was easy since the college students are home.  I nailed a spot right in front of Pepper’s Pizza.  The smell of the crust waffled through the air – it hit me the minute I stepped out of the car.

I walked in with a spring in my step.  The restaurant has been updated since I last visited.  The cramped rectangular venue expanded.  The red booths replaced with black.  The percentage of wait staff with tattoos and piercings has decreased ten fold.  But the pictures on the wall, the music and the menu remained the same.  The italian sausage with onions and mushrooms tickled my throat as it did 20 years ago.

The girls and I settled in the booth, and I began to recount how I wooed their mother on these very sidewalks.  I explained that I enrolled in a morning graduate class just so I’d have an excuse to drive to UNC each week to see her.  We’d meet every Thursday morning for breakfast.  I’d park at Cobb Dorm, and we’d walk over to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe a couple of blocks away.  I’d drink several cups of coffee and listen to her stories of life as a coed.  We’d recount our past summer together at the Y and dream of the next.

On April 19, 1991, I arrived at Cobb at my usual 7:30.  And there I sat – for thirty minutes.  No Lisa.  There were no cell phones at the time and the dorm was bolted shut – no fellas allowed. 

I was stunned.  I’d never been stood up before.

When I returned to work that morning, I announced to a mutual friend of ours:  “I am not a toy.  She’s messing with me.  I ain’t putting up with it.  I’m done!” 

“Yesterday was her 21st birthday!  Give her a break man!”  That was no excuse to me and I really showed her – I cooled things down for a while.

I later found out that wasn’t really punishment for Lisa.  She had agreed to go out with me, and I occasionally drove over on a weekend night to hang out.  But apparently after I dropped her back off at her sorority house, she’d change clothes and head out to meet up with another guy.  What was she thinking?   Who in the heck could think about another guy after a night with me?  And what was I thinking?  Geez.

I guess I was blind with love.  And as hard as I tried after that cool spring morning waiting for her on Country Club Road, I still couldn’t get her off of my mind. 

Some things just don’t change.

The girls loved my stories.  They laughed and asked questions and called me a dork, apparently the same feelings their mother had for me at the time. 

“It’s amazing she married you dad.”  They’re pretty intuitive.  She was out of my league.

When the pizza arrived, I texted Lisa’s sorority sisters and let them know I was partying on Franklin Street without them.  This time sans Jagermeister.

I guess if I had gone first, I would have wanted Lisa to keep my memory alive.  Maybe these jaunts to our familiar places and some funny stories as accompaniment will do just that for her.

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