(This post is in response to a writer's prompt on the NaBloPoMo website: "What is the moment you leave childhood and enter adulthood?" After thinking about it for awhile I realized that the moment for me was when my parents dropped me off at college a few weeks after I had turned 18...)
Eagle-sized butterflies were wreaking nervous havoc on my stomach as my parents and I drove past the billboard reading "Welcome to Ephraim, Home of Snow College." My view of the small town was limited since our Mazda sub-compact was stuffed to the ceiling with boxes and suitcases...hopefully everything I needed for my new life at college. As we drove down Main Street passing 7-eleven-sized grocery stores and the one-movie-a-week theater, I was thankful for my previous visits to this small town so that I could direct my parents to the building that would be my home for the next nine months.
After pulling up to the large, red-bricked dormitory, I carefully extricated myself from my precarious nest among the boxes, bedding and baggage and stared at the building wondering which window would be mine. I walked up the sidewalk, through the double glass doors, and found myself in a lobby. To my left was a long hallway with many open doors and a stairway leading to the second floor of the building. In front of me were four rather uncomfortable looking couches, a few tables and a wooden plaque on the wall announcing the dormitory name as Castilleja Hall. There was another sign too, this one proclaiming "Don't let IT happen to you" together with a picture of a wedding ring with a line through it. "Now what's that supposed to mean?" I thought. My hands were trembling as I turned to my right and walked to the check-in desk. The resident assistant handed me a key and some papers....a welcome packet, of sorts.
(Sandy and me in front of "the sign" in the lobby. IT was marriage. Despite the warning, we had plenty of "ring ceremonies" that year at Castilleja Hall. I'm pleased to report that none of them were held for me.)
My parents and I made our way down the hall, past many open doors with sounds of music and excited chatter emanating from within. My nervousness dissolved into excited anticipation as I found my name on the door of room #108. I knocked lightly, then opened the door and found three of my new room mates already inside. I was immediately pulled into an excited hug by Sandy, a girl I had met once before, who told me how happy she was to see me. After she introduced me to the two other girls, Leslie and Jen, I was able to take a good look around the small apartment I hoped to someday call "home." The kitchen and living room were combined and already furnished with a small, brown couch and an old table with six plastic, orange-colored stacking chairs. Off this large room were two smaller bedrooms. One, I was told, was mine and Heather's, while the other belonged to Leslie and Jen. To my right was a small hall which led to Sandy and Heidi's bedroom and also the bathroom, which my parents claimed was the best part of the apartment with its enormous bathtub.
In my bedroom I discovered a large closet, a pull-out bed and a desk with numerous shelves and drawers...all for me. While I started unpacking, my parents, with Sandy's help, brought the rest of my things inside. As I surveyed the room deciding where things were to go, my excitement grew. I had been looking forward to this day for months...ever since I had received my letter of acceptance in response to my earlier application for admission. I was now a full-time student at Snow College! I would be living on my own without parental supervision and making important decisions by myself. I felt so grown-up and mature!
That adult feeling quickly left me when I had to say goodbye to my parents and watch them drive away. Suddenly I wanted to throw myself into their arms and cry, "Don't leave me here by myself! Take me home with you!" Once again I felt like their little Sarah who had lived with them in that big white house on Quailstone Drive for thirteen years.
Long after the tail lights of my parents' car disappeared into the darkness, I stood looking into the distance where they had last been. Then slowly, once again I turned to stare at the large, red-bricked building in front of me. This time I knew which window was mine.