This is a very personal back to school story that ushers in a new season of life for our family. This story is different from all the back to school stories that have played out in our house over the years.
As mid August has rolled around year after year, the back to school activities have been familiar enough….they’ve evolved from walking our son and daughter to the bus stop for their first day of kindergarten to “walking the schedule” the Sunday before high school started to meet their teachers.
But this time was different. Early on this crisp August Friday morning, we pulled out of our drive way with a truck and carload of clothing, appliances, bedding and furniture to take our youngest child, Ashley, off to start college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
How could the time have passed so quickly from chaperoning her third grade field trip to her fifth grade graduation to her eighth grade formal to her senior prom? When I came to work at Hooker Furniture 11 years ago, she was only in the 2nd grade.
I knew that when I returned home on this Friday evening long after the sun had set, that the season of rearing children under our roof would have passed. “Home” would be different forever, as both our children are now in the various early stages of creating a home for themselves independently.
Our home will now be a haven they “come back to” for a few days, weeks or months, but don’t put down roots.
After over 20 years of pouring energy and love into creating a home for our son and daughter, today we would get to see what Ashley had learned about nesting and home-making.
After arriving at her dorm and taking the first load up the elevator to the 7th floor and unlocking the door to her room, I could see this would be no small test for her – and us. With 2 desks, 2 beds, 2 dressers and 2 wardrobes stacked in the middle of the concrete-walled room, it looked like a chaotic cross between a large closet and a military barracks.
But I had to admire her attitude. “We’ll make it work!” she said with a smile.
As the day passed, the sterile environment brightened with the cheerful color scheme of aqua, purple and black & white that Ashley and her roommate Catie had chosen. Beds were made and accent pillows were placed. A futon, entertainment center and storage shelf were assembled. Photographs and bulletin boards were hung. Soft, sheer purple curtains went up at the window (which, by the way, has a great view of Carolina’s basketball arena, affectionately known as the ‘Dean Dome’ in honor of legendary former coach Dean Smith.)
Exhausted at the end of the day, my husband and I collapsed on the futon and put our feet up on the aqua storage ottoman and nestled against the oversized throw pillows. “This is great! It’s so cozy I’d like to stay here tonight,” he said as he flipped the TV remote and got comfortable. And that’s when the feeling of satisfaction enveloped me.
Yes, it would be hard to go back home without the vibrant presence of our precious daughter in our daily lives.
But now she was learning to make her own way and, most importantly, her own home.