The house is way too quiet.
She’s not there when I get home, telling me about her day. There’s no warm hug to greet me after a long day at work. No smile with those dimples piercing her cheeks as she laughs at one of my awful dad jokes.
We dropped our daughter off at college, and judging from social media and the crowded streets of Boston, we weren’t alone.
I’d like to tell you it went as planned, but that would be a lie and, well, I’m a fan of the truth.
The way that day started was a precursor of things to come. We were almost to the Sagamore Bridge when my daughter asked if we had our parking pass for move-in day at Northeastern. We didn’t. It was out, on a table, but never made it into our borrowed truck.
I banged a U-ey, went back home, snatched up the parking pass and related materials, and got back on the road to her future.
We made a stop in Plymouth so she could share a tearful goodbye with her grandparents, and then stopped at a favorite restaurant for a late breakfast, early lunch. Even with the detours, we were still well ahead of schedule.
We arrived at Northeastern close to our appointed time, where we were greeted by movers, dozens of movers. Within the shadows of Symphony Hall, they emptied the truck like a well-rehearsed orchestra. Her possessions (who knew she had accumulated so many sweatshirts?) were packed neatly into bins and whisked up to her room on the 10th floor.
Her roommate, a delightful young woman from New York (even though she’s a Yankees fan), was already there and decorating. It wasn’t a competition, but I couldn’t help feeling like we were behind and needed to catch up.
I shared some good-natured ribbing with the roommate’s dad, pointing out the Citgo sign and Fenway Park from their window. And I also pointed out which team was in first place.
I moved her bed up a few notches to make room for the drawers underneath. I spun her desk three times, until it was back in the same exact spot it was in when we started. I dutifully ran electrical cords underneath the bed, out of view, so phones and computers could be charged within range of her pillow. And I unpacked a case of ramen noodles, and wondered how many I would be packing up again in the spring.
When a hammer was needed, I took pride in having purchased that $24 toolkit for her to have in her dorm room. (Actually, the idea came from her boss at her summer job. Thanks, Murph.)
But her elevated bed posed a problem for her 5-foot, 3-inch body. So we needed to find a stool.
There was only one curtain, and two closets to cover. So we needed another one.
She had books, but nothing to stop them from sliding. So we added a bookend to the list.
And that white noise that helped her sleep since she was a baby was missing. So we needed a fan, too.
Off we went to Target, rookie parents at this game.
That’s when we got a real taste of move-in day, Boston style. Target is less than a mile and a half away, but it’s quicker to go from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole by ferry. Driving past Northeastern, Simmons, and Emmanuel, and heading into Boston University territory, there were double-parked moving vans clogging every artery.
When we finally got there, it looked like Target was giving things away. Shelves were barren, picked over, and checkout lines snaked through the store. The same was true nearby at Bed, Bath & Beyond, though helpful employees practically escorted us to the items we came to buy.
Of course, then we had to get back to Northeastern, adding rush hour to the mix. Fortunately, the Red Sox were not playing at home, or I might still be writing this from a traffic snarl on Huntington Avenue.
When we finally arrived back at her dorm, tired, thirsty, and hungry, we had exactly 60 seconds to say our goodbyes. She had to be at a floor meeting. We were double-parked. We hugged. We whispered a few words of encouragement. We all fought back tears.
Maybe it was better that way.
Later that night, after a horrendous commute (how do people do that every day?), we arrived home tired and with our feet pulsating from a day on the run. As we got into bed, we spotted Post-it notes on our pillows.
“I miss you already,” my note read.
Funny thing is, we bought a card and wrote her notes of encouragement, and tucked it under her comforter when she wasn’t looking.
Great minds and all.
Soon we’ll all be in our new routines, but I’m hopeful we’ll continue to hear from her often. I’ll look forward to those times.
Because, right now, it’s too quiet.