Robbie’s Great Adventure Begins

Robbie is off to college today. This marks a turning point for him – and for us.

Ever since Kate left, Robbie has felt the day looming larger. He had become the focus of our attention as we made certain he had everything he needed, which seemed to translate into a series of shopping trips. He felt the heaviness of the transition as one friend, then another, then another left for their own journey. Brooke and Maryann, who have been friends with Robbie since we moved in nearly 14 years ago, had a final sleepover before Maryann headed north. Robbie awoke at 4:30 a.m. and trooped around the block to see her off, sharing the moment with Brooke. When Brooke left, a few days later, he was there to see her off.

Fortunately, Naomi was setting the schedule at Cold Stone so he got extra shifts, filling the emptier hours. She also saw to it, all the veterans from Cold Stone would work together on the 1st, their final day together. They were allowed to stay after-hours, partying. Robbie and Naomi braved the Saturday storm and headed up a dinner party for a different circle of friends.

Along the way, he was cleaning his room, the basement, the computer nook; organizing his belongings and tossing out a ton of stuff. His text books began to arrive in the mail and it was all starting to feel very, very real to him.

He’s letting himself getting wound up, uncertain of his ability to survive college. Deb and I would have shared that feeling a few years ago when he was struggling with school and life. Then came Aquaculture, some self-assuredness and maturity. Now, neither one of us doubts he is up to the task of handling life on his own from keeping his dorm neat to doing his homework. We’re both very proud of the accomplishments and the road he’s traveled and are confident these next four years will be challenging but ultimately successful ones for him.

On Saturday, as the winds blew and the branches broke from trees, Deb and Robbie finished the organizing and the packing. He had whipped himself up with anxiety over the amount of time this would take so Deb and I carefully downplayed any anxiousness we felt. They were done in something like two hours. We ran out for a three-hour series of stops that finished (we hoped) the shopping for school.

Sunday was clear and sunny, which made us happy. After church, we loaded the mini-van and then drove up to school. Being just 65 miles away, the trip flew by and we were unpacking the car before we knew it. Coincidentally, also unpacking was a mother and daughter, who have a cousin that went to high school with Robbie so an instant connection was made.

His room is small. Smaller than Kate’s dorm at GWU and smaller than any room Deb or I had at Binghamton. Still, once we were done putting things away, there was a surprising amount of leftover storage space. The furniture is sturdy and should survive him. The building needs more outlets and lord knows where they will find room for the mini-fridge but that’s a Tuesday conundrum when his roommate, Alexander, arrives.

Yesterday was move in day for students who asked for an exemption from Tuesday. Since Deb nor I felt like taking a day off from work, or stressing Rob by asking him to move in, acclimate himself to a roommate, find his way around campus and then begin classes 24 hours later, we thought this would work.

Still, the bookstore closed early so we missed picking up his final books. Finished in the room, we made a list of missing items and drove home. We had our typical Sunday dinner and relaxed.

Today, we’ve gone out, gotten the last of the items (all small stuff), and will drive him back – for good – in the later afternoon. We’ll finish moving him in, help with some wiring and decorating and then feed him a fine dinner. Then, we’ll head home and begin our own new chapter.

Tonight we’ll sleep in the house, just the two of us and the dogs. The Empty Nest prologue of our life begins, counting down until both kids are graduated and permanently moved out of the house. We’ve had plenty of time to adjust and get used to it as the kids were out more nights than not throughout the summer. Still, this has a bit more sense of permanence and we’re both kind of looking forward to it.

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