School starts on Tuesday, and I finally got around to walking over to the building where I'll be teaching my early morning classes on Tuesday/Thursdays. To get there, you have to walk past one of the dorm buildings, and today is move-in day. Students and parents were unloading trucks and trailers full of bean bag chairs, futons, plastic drawer storage containers, bags of clothes, etc. Everyone seemed to be a very familiar blend of excitement and frustration, combined with overheating.
I never lived in the dorms, but watching all the commotion reminded me of moving into my first apartment in Ames 11 years ago (oof) so I could finish my Bachelor's degree at Iowa State. I remember being so excited to have my own place. I bought kitchen and bath stuff, some fun decorations, and spent all summer imagining where I would put it all. Then the day came to move. It was fairly easy work considering the apartment was just one room, but enough work and heat to wear us out. That evening, we drove an hour north to visit my grandparents.
It was on the way back to Ames that it hit me. I was not going back to Creston with my parents, and I was not going to be sleeping in my room or my bed. I was going to a new place, and Mom and Dad were going to leave me there. I fought as hard as I could, but the tears were stronger. I just remember blurting out, "I don't want to go there. I want to go home with you!" Of course, that made them cry, too.
But they did leave me there, and I cried myself to sleep for the following several nights. A few days later, I wanted to bake some chicken but didn't know how long to leave it in the oven. I decided to call Mom to ask. I started out fine, asked my question and got an answer. Then she asked how I was doing, and the tears came again. I still just wanted to go home where everything was familiar and I wasn't alone. It happened the first few times I went back to Creston, too.
It took me a long time to feel comfortable being on my own. I have always suffered from homesickness, and this was the biggest trial of that feeling ever. But eventually, I became used to it, and now I don't bawl every time I leave my parents' house. Though I do admit to some tears after they left me in Onalaska in June...I'm a cryer. That's what I do.
Anyway, the point is this: I saw all of those students moving into the dorms today, and I realized that some of them would probably cry themselves to sleep tonight because they are homesick. They look brave and confident now, but after Mom and/or Dad leave(s) the reality will sink in. They're grown-ups now--they don't live "at home" anymore. They'll get used to it the same way I did, but I am sitting here in my office crying because I feel so bad for those out there today who feel what I felt 11 years ago. It's no fun growing older, but it's inevitable. We all get used to it eventually.