College move-in day is a big day. Especially for freshmen. The kiddos are leaving behind their parents and their home towns (usually), Mom and Dad are cranky because they’re trying to make it easier to let go, the kiddo is cranky because they want to be on their own already but they also are afraid and a little sad and are also trying to make it easier to let go, and then the roommate’s fam is going through the same awkward exchange of attitudes. Then there’s all the RA’s running around the building trying to be cheerful and enthusiastic about the upcoming semester, but they’re really just exhausted and overworked from all the preparations and strung out from also trying to get their own shit for the semester ready. And there’s arranging furniture, battling about decorations, buying extra stuff you forgot to pack and/or extra stuff you will never need but really think you do. It’s a nightmare.
My friends have told me horror stories of their move-in days, as well. One person told me their divorced parents argued with each other all day like spiteful children. Another person told me that it was the most stressful day of their life trying to orchestrate all their belongings moved from point A to point B while juggling their extended family’s moods. Many others still have told me of grief-stricken mothers who sob like water sprinklers and wail like sirens.
And from my own experience, it was definitely not enjoyable. I seem to remember it as a chaotic and overwhelming day, where everyone was getting testy with each other, hungry and tired. Perhaps that’s just time’s muddled effect on my memory, because today my parents said they don’t remember everyone being in bad moods. That tells me that either: 1. my parents were in extremely bad moods and have since then colluded to deny all implications of their fowl attitudes on said day or 2. I was the one in a testy mood and therefore projected my own negativity onto my impression of the entire day. Who’s to say which it is though? I’m always a sheer delight, as we all know, and I would never get irritated with other people for things beyond their control, so… Draw your own conclusions.
In any case, I had certain expectations for my brother’s college freshman move-in day, which happened earlier this week. (As you recall, I wrote about how he did that “graduating high school” thing earlier this summer. He has since moved onto an “attending college” thing. Him and his phases–what’s next? A “buying a house” thing?)
Additionally, my boyfriend Bryson was joining us for this raucous move-in affair. He’s met my family before a couple times, but under these high-stress conditions, I was concerned for how everyone’s moods would cooperate with each other. Would Dad say something that annoyed my brother, my brother in turn snapping at my mom, who in turn getting upset with my casual air, and poor Bryson feeling terribly uncomfortable in the crossfire of a petty conflict? I made sure to warn them to be on their best behavior.
And you want to know how it went?
I just CANNOT believe it’s not butter. And also, I can’t believe how smoothly the day went. Almost as smooth as… margarine?
Bryson and I arrived after my parents and my brother. Did we have to carry up tons of boxes and pillows and blankets and crates and bags up a dozen flight of stairs, getting sweaty and exhausting ourselves? No. Did we have to grapple with how to arrange the furniture, how to loft the bed, where to push all the cabinets? No. Did we have a power struggle among us, Dad vs. Son vs. Mom vs. Sister, never reaching a resolute compromise or mutual agreement? Not even. Did my brother throw his toaster out the window in rage, did my father make my brother’s roommate wet himself, did my mother bring up the Christmas Party of 1989, did I give my brother the finger, or did Bryson inconspicuously slip away from the scene of the drama? Not quite. (Well, truthfully, not at all.)
When Bryson and I got there, my family had already brought everything up and had some of it unpacked, and his roommate was already unpacked and off gallivanting around campus. Dad was his usual wise-guy self, my brother was his typical lowkey witty self, and my mom was her consistently cute and charming self. I, of course, was my always hilarious and commanding self, keeping the family on task while being entertaining in the process as to keep the mood lifted. And Bryson was just great, hanging with us super casual. I mean, everyone got along really well. Even my dad and my brother, and they always get on each other’s cases about something. It’s their ‘thing.’
And then we went to lunch. Did we argue over the restaurant–either everyone too apathetic to make a decision, too uninformed to know what was a wise decision, or too diverse in their tastes to settle on a compromise? No. Did we get lost along the drive, wind up in the next city over, struggle to find parking, have to wait 45 minutes to be seated at the restaurant? No. Were we all displeased with the menu and underwhelmed by our slow, cold, and bland food? Certainly not I.
We went back and forth a bit, but after a little bit, we concluded on a good, general restaurant that had no wait, great atmosphere, satisfactory food, and reasonable prices. (No, this is not a Yelp! review for the restaurant, although if Gray’s Place would like to sweeten the deal, I may be able to whip up something even more praiseworthy than the generic review I offered above.)
And then we did some last-minute shopping at WalStore. Did we spend fifty hours in WalStore? Did my parents and my brother disagree over what he would need at college? Did I accidentally tip over a stack of plates and very not-accidentally set off an entire display of “Press for Sound” toys? Did everyone trifle over small decisions? Did the whole store get held up by a ragtag group of turtle bandits? Perhaps surprisingly, no.
We perused through the store, collecting a few random necessary things, and then left. We went back to his dorm, unloaded, easy as cake. (Because I believe cake is way easier than pie, in my own personal correct opinion. Whatever “easier” means.)
And then, to top off the day, my dad, brother, Bryson, and I spontaneously got ourselves into a 2 v. 2 basketball game outside my brother’s dorm. Actually it was probably my fault, because I had the idea (since there were all these random “sports” materials laying about my brother’s dorm, i.e. basketballs, baseballs, footballs, Magic 8 balls, the like, and so I proposed a game of basketball because “I’m even prepared for it; I’m wearing Addidas tennis shoes and leggings!”–to which my dad responded, “Yeah, because basketball players are wearing leggings now”–which wasn’t what I meant, but that’s okay because it’s not like Dad’s supposed to know what’s new and hot in athletic apparel, because I am a very avid follower of the athletic fashion industry on account of my enthusiasm for physical fitness… Where was I? Oh yeah, end the parentheses.) and then because I’m such a great leader everyone else succumbed to my will–I MEAN, everyone else agreed to join in.
And it started to drizzle a little, but we played anyway and the rain held off. Now, I’m not going to go into the details of who won, which, knowing that my father and brother both regularly play basketball and that Bryson used to play pretty regularly, I’m sure you can assume that I personally defeated them every time.
But then we all sort of wrapped up the afternoon with sweaty hugs and red faces, took a couple pictures, and said our dry goodbyes. By which I mean, nobody cried or prolonged the leaving process beyond ten minutes. And that in itself is impressive, because it often can take up to 45 minutes for us to leave a family situation after the actual decision to leave has been made.
And so I guess the story here–what I’m trying to write about–is that there really wasn’t much of a story at all today. Everything went ideal and nobody did anything ridiculous for me to dramatize (read: I didn’t do anything stupid for me to “dramatize”.) So while I would have a delightful time playing up the horrendous awfulness of a cranky family and an awkward family-boyfriend encounter, everything was… just fine. Huh. I suppose I was about due for that–I guess it can happen every one in a million times.