Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Progress on the Empty Nest Front

Yesterday I took Seamus to his freshman orientation. Would you like to hear how it went? No? I'm going to tell you anyway. First of all, we were late. Check in time was 9:00 a.m. and at 8:40, we were just pulling out of a McDonald's parking lot, sixty miles from our destination. (YES WE WENT TO MCDONALD'S. AND DIDN'T EVEN GET DIABETES LIKE WE DESERVED.) You can actually get to Richmond pretty quickly if you drive 80 mph most of the way.

But then I missed the parking deck entrance and we got sucked into a vortex of one-way streets, all going the direction we didn't want to go in, plus NO LEFT TURN and NO U-TURN signs, so we had to make a massive eight-block detour and attempted the parking deck again. And then we walked briskly the three blocks to the orientation building, only to learn that check in was in a different building right across the street from the parking garage. So we got Seamus checked in (we were absolutely the last people to arrive) and I was immediately all, HOW LONG ARE PARENTS EXPECTED TO STAY? WHEN CAN I LEAVE? CAN I LEAVE NOW? BYE, I AM LEAVING NOW. WHEN SHOULD I PICK HIM UP? TOMORROW? SO SOON? HOW ABOUT NEXT WEEK?

So there I was, speeding on my way back to Charlottesville, feeling pleased that a whole day stretched before me in which I was not expected to appear at work, when I realized that all the paperwork that Seamus was supposed to bring with him to orientation was still in my bag; most importantly, the immunization form, much crumpled, but with proof of recent meningitis vaccine and actual signature of a nurse and even a coffee mug ring as an extra stamp of authenticity. I was still in the western suburbs of Richmond, so I pulled over to the shoulder and texted Seamus about the situation. Of course he didn't respond and I got back on the highway and drove all the way back to the school. And then I had a full blown panic attack in the car, while driving 65 mph on I95. As they say, keep calm and panic on.

As soon as I got back to VCU and parked I got this text from Seamus:

I'm in the tour group now. We're just leaving. It's okay, send me a picture of them when you get a chance and we can mail them late.

I rushed out of the parking garage, hoping to catch him anyway, and in the distance saw a group of orienteers walking away on a tour. (All the students had the same yellow backpack.) I managed to get close enough to the group to be fairly sure that Seamus wasn't among them. And then -- yellow backpacks everywhere! The students had broken out into small groups, for staggered tours, and I was surrounded by small groups of students, but I couldn't find Seamus, and at this point, I'm not even sure I would have recognized him. Admitting defeat, I texted him pictures of the documents.

Back in the parking garage, when I tried to pay at the pay station and it wouldn't accept payment because I still had two minutes left of free parking before I was expected to pay. Could I make it to my car and out the exit in under two minutes?

It took maybe twenty seconds to reach my car. I was so frazzled, I put it in reverse without depressing the clutch. I reached the exit with perhaps ten seconds to spare and it was blocked by a woman who was having some kind of issue with the card reader. She grimaced at me in her rear view mirror as if to say - what? "The machine ate my ticket." "I'm a hillbilly who doesn't know how to parking garage.""You're a jerk for pulling in behind me when I'm obviously having difficulty here." Who can say?

My two minutes expired while the lady in front of my was still trying to sort herself out, so now I had to back out of the exit and find a pay station, but of course, someone had backed up smartly right behind me. It was awkward, but I extricated myself from the exit, drove to the pay station, which now accepted a payment from me, escaped the garage and was on my way home, a full hour from the moment I'd realized I still had Seamus' papers in my bag. Incidentally, that's twice that I paid the garage yesterday. Parking fees were included in the $150 orientation fee, but I'd left the parking validation card with Seamus. This day was really full of win.

I made it home without further incident, but this fun day wasn't over yet because now I had to be photographed for the local weekly paper, which is including me and my yarnbombs in a story they're doing about Charlottesville. I am one of those people who looks terrible in photographs - stiff and unnatural with a big toothy frozen grin and eyes that always seem to be directed skyward and after my stressful morning, I was far from looking my best. Additionally, I had hoped to lose weight before the photo, but felt fatter than ever and being sweaty always makes me feel like I've gained even more circumference. I had the distinct impression that I was bursting out of my clothes. There were two photographers and I had to sit on a chair in the middle of the downtown mall and pretend to knit and it was the most awkward thing I have ever done. After the shoot, walking back to my car, I actually clutched my head in mortification a few times. Oh well at least I'm not Ann Coulter.



  1. A+++ use of GIFs. I blame the Hamburglar for everything that went wrong.

    I can't wait to read the article -- at least they didn't ask you to hug any of the trees you've covered in knitwear.

    1. I guess I should be grateful that the nazis have ripped them all down!

  2. I hate those sort of days. And, FWIW, you look great in most photos. I'm always thinking, "Why can't I look that good in photos?" Instead, I look haggard and frightening, or haggard and manic. So much fun!

    1. Aw, thanks, but I felt like an absolute troll. It didn't help that the photographer was young and skinny.

  3. The GIFs in this are everything.

    You do look great in photos - and some of those photographers working for the local freebie papers can take some excellent shots.

    Also? My husband was that woman in a parking garage recently. This is why we can't go to big cities.

  4. Oh. WHAT A FRUSTRATION--I got all clenched up reading your post! It sure seems like getting anyone anywhere these days requires so much EFFORT and PAPERWORK and gee whiz, I'm never feeling up to it.
    I bet you looked swell in the photo, we are always our own worst critic on that kind of thing, aren't we?