Students moving into residence in January are not greeted with the enthusiasm that’s offered in September; there are no welcome events or free barbeques.
My son participated in a study-abroad semester in the fall of 2018, so moving to his university residence happened on a cold Saturday just after New Year’s. He ran around packing the morning of his assigned move-in day, having spent Christmas break writing the essay exams required to complete his course work from England. When we arrived it was still early afternoon but his residence office was closing and he had to go to another building across campus to get his key.
Andrew’s room is in a condo-style unit where he shares a bathroom, kitchen, and sitting area with two other students. His roommates didn’t arrive until Sunday so we had the place to ourselves. While Andrew and his brother were setting up his piano keyboard, I decided to make the bed for him. That’s when it became clear that while we had managed to bring sheets and a pillowcase, we had neglected to pack a blanket or a duvet. A few minutes later my husband, who had finished unpacking the car, commented that he hadn’t seen Andrew’s dishes. I started a list of forgotten items that got longer as we continued unpacking.
While the guys tried to get his computer online, I made the mistake of using the bathroom. Based on the ring of grime around the tub, I concluded that it hadn’t been cleaned in this decade. Perhaps it was my preoccupation with dirt that contributed to me somehow locking myself in.
“How did you get in there?” my husband said when he heard me rattling the door handle.”
“The usual way.” I wasn’t sure how else to respond.
“Push the lock button in hard while turning it,” Andrew called, having experienced a similar problem in last year’s unit.
“Oh,” said my husband, looking past me when I managed to open the door. “I thought you were in one of the other bedrooms.”
I didn’t ask why he thought I had broken into another student’s room and closed the door behind me. Instead I announced that I had found a bottle of Pine-Sol and a cloth under the sink and was going to attempt some cleaning. No one responded.
Fifteen minutes later I emerged, pushing damp hair off my face. “The bathroom was filthy but I’ve managed to make it cleaner.”
Andrew gave me a strange look. “I could have called someone to deal with that.”
“Come home with us for tonight,” I said as we were leaving but he had more work to do on his essays and wanted to stay put. We dropped him off at the office to inquire about the internet issue. On the way back to Hamilton I texted my parents, who had offered to help with the move. “Feel like going for a drive tomorrow? We forgot some things.”
“He said he slept with his coat on last night,” my mother told me on the phone Sunday evening.
“Incentive for him to remember to pack a blanket next time,” I thought.
“And there was an empty potato chip bag, which I think was Saturday’s supper. We took him out for lunch; he seemed really hungry.”
Meals are tough when you’re alone, without dishes, on a deserted campus. Thank goodness for grandparents.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Hampson
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