You pick up your child after she’s completed her first year of college and a million miscellaneous thoughts race through your head. I don’t claim that any of them make sense, but here’s a few that jumped to my mind:
–When we dropped off my daughter at her college, we were able to fit everything she packed for school — as well as her two brothers and my wife and myself — comfortably into our SUV. How come we couldn’t comfortably fit everything on the way home?
–We saw many students walking to and from exams. Why did all the students that we saw, both male and female, look so young? I’m not saying that I look old, but I certainly don’t look like them.
–The pace of life on a college campus is unlike any other. I loved it when I was in college and later when I worked for a small college in Reading. My wife and I have decided that once our youngest finishes up high school, we’re putting our house up for sale and we’re relocating near a small college community. How will we survive? Where will we work? Who knows? But at least we’ll have tons of fun . . . at least until we retire for real to the mountains or beach. Okay, it’s all a dream, but isn’t what they tell you do in Philosophy 101?
–Time has a way of playing tricks on our memories, but I remember my dorm room as smaller and more of a concrete blob-like box than my daughter’s Taj Mahal-styled complex. Her dorm has the look and feel of a luxurious apartment dwelling for the young and upwardly-mobile than a stuffy dorm. When I was in college, I felt it was a good day when my elevator didn’t smell and I didn’t find a hole the size of a fist in some random spot in the hall. You put 40 males aged 18 to 22 in one small section of a building and see what you get too? My daughter’s dorm was full of bright and cheerful colors. We were greeted by clean, working elevators and other happy smiling students. I couldn’t help but ask: is this really finals week?
–Speaking of memories, I noticed right away one area that looks to have gotten worse and not better, the amount of money college bookstores pay for used books. I watched as one student laid out a stack of books to be sold back to the bookstore. She looked pale and miserable, like she had just survived a long illness, in her case finals week. The sales clerk set-up at an impromptu desk in front of the store, scanned the ISBN number for each book. After each scan, the student took a step back like she had been punched in the gut.
When the clerk had scanned the final book, the student gasped: “I paid 75 dollars for that book.”
The clerk looked up at her with a sad look. “I’m sorry, honey, but I can only give you $3 dollars.” The clerk told the woman that she might have better luck selling the book online or through another bookstore. The woman considered her options, but finally told the clerk she would take it.
In the end, the student agreed to take what she could.
My thought: Times change and yet it stays the same.
–One final thought: It’s good to have my daughter home. If only for a few months.