Home > Uncategorized > Quarantine Diaries – Day 56 (back to school)

Quarantine Diaries – Day 56 (back to school)

We needed to get out. Me and my wife and our girls.

Nearly 2 months of the same walls and the same window views. It was Mother’s day. And at least it stopped snowing. Temps promised to creep near 60. It almost seemed like a mis-print on the weather app. Felt like we needed to hurry before it changed its mind.

We were all a bit grumpy. So. Yea, we needed to get out.

Both our girls are missing their graduations. Kiera from Scranton Prep, and Alyssa from Moravian College. As a matter of fact, Alyssa’s graduation was scheduled to be the day before. May 9th. We had all sorts of plans. An overnight. A dinner. A party.

That was before the world changed.

It suddenly seemed like we’d been living this way forever. Time doesn’t make any sense anymore.

They both worked so hard. Alyssa got accepted into law school, and Kiera will continue her education at Lafayette College.

If the schools open up in the fall that is. But that’s to ponder another day.

So we cooked up a plan.

AlyssaMy wife found her own old graduation cap and gown in a box in the basement. Alyssa donned her graduation dress and grabbed her diploma (she graduated a semester early so had it already) and her tassels. We piled into the car for a road trip. Our own graduation ceremony. And with Kiera’s college choice being about 10 miles from Moravian, we’d kiss one special place goodbye, and give the other a hello smooch. I didn’t expect I’d cry. But, spoiler alert. I cried.

Alyssa thrived at Moravian. It’s a special place….filled with special people. A small but absolutely gorgeous campus in a pretty safe area. A welcoming, nurturing, diverse, dynamic learning environment. It’s what the brochures promise you college is going to be like. And she grew there. She gained confidence. She traveled to Europe. She got involved in the local community. She volunteered. She made lifelong friends, both students and professors. Again, everything you hoped your child would get out of a college experience, Alyssa got from being a greyhound. And it was just sorta hitting me as I made the drive I’d made so many times over the last 4 years…..it was over. I was gonna miss it as much as she was.

AlyssamaskSo we arrived at the campus entrance….that sign I remember seeing for the first time on our first 2016 visit. I pulled over and we took maybe 100 pictures. In front of it, and in front of venerable old Comenius Hall. All the while cars were driving by, honking their support. Knowing that the class of 2020 are being forced to improvise….and thus supporting our little photo shoot. Every horn received a raised-fist victory salute from me. It was just more confirmation that we made the right choice 4 years ago. And when we were winding down and I turned and started drifting back towards the car, my youngest looked at me and said, “Oh my god, are you crying?”

I scoffed and told her I had something in my eye. Which was technically true. It just wasn’t specific enough.

The pride you have in your kids is the kind that breaks down dams and floods valleys. It can’t be contained. And if you try too hard, what you’re left with is streaming tears that you end up trying to blame on non-existent pollen. I really wish all of you moments like this. Just try not to get caught as red-handed as I did.

So the plan now was to drive to Lafayette College in nearby Easton. One thing you forget about during pandemic road trips is not having anyplace to pee. The college was closed…..the student center (and the dorms) where we’d usually go locked up tight. So Alyssa led us to a nearby Wawa. We made sure to buy some token snacks so they didn’t think we were doing a pee-only-drive-by. Important for peace of mind. Then a take-away Mother’s day lunch from an Arby’s drive-thru (you adapt, believe me), and we jumped on route 22 for the short trip.

It was our 3rd visit to Lafayette….so I still needed the GPS to guide me. I think I got it now though. Turning up that lane towards the visitor parking lot….the gorgeous architecture framed against a painfully blue sky…..it gave me the same feeling Moravian had given me 4 years earlier. It just felt like the right place at the right time for the right child.

IMG_2928We had no plan other than to wander. All the visits for accepted students had of course been cancelled….so we just wanted to get the lay of the land again on our own. It’s a wonderfully self-contained campus, neither too big nor too small. Set up on a graceful hill overlooking the town and the Delaware river. With a large village green in its center……perfect for social distancing even before that was a thing. We had the entire campus pretty much to ourselves. A few other parents with incoming freshman looked to be visiting on their own as well, along with some random locals riding bikes…..but that was about it. We spoke quietly as we walked, which is what you usually do when surrounded by silence. Kiera led the way…..if she turned left we kinda hung back and turned left too. This is gonna be her home for the next 4 years, and she already seemed to be gaining confidence with each step. There were a few specific buildings she wanted to see. The new science center was one. She found it. She’d done her research.

Kiera is sweetness itself. Kind. Loving. Forgiving. She’s a much better human being than I can ever hope to be. Nobody deserves the good that life can offer more. Lafayette is lucky to have her.

(And it what I thought was a low-key wonderful gesture, the school had set up a few porta-potty’s around campus for these impromptu visits, stuffed with hand sanitizer. Sometimes it ain’t always the big things boys and girls.)

The day before our visit it snowed. The day after (today), it’s been schizophrenically alternating between sunshine and sudden bursts of near freezing rain. So our timing was perfect. Our drive home into a dozing sun was quiet and easy. It was a long but wonderful day. We were surrounded, all of us, with nothing but love and good memories past and future.

We realized that this was really the first time we’d left our dog completely alone in 55 days. When we drove away in the morning, there he was, staring at us through the bottom of the front door window. And now, turning the corner and pulling into the drive some 7 hours later, he was still there. Staring. He caught a glimpse of us returning, something he probably convinced himself we’d never do, and promptly lost his mind. Perfect end to the trip.

We were soon all in the midst of a 4 way socially distant nap. I don’t remember dreaming. But you always do.

I hope I dreamed that this thing would end, and the world would be safe again. And we’d be able to gather and hug and work and play again. And have more choices than Wawa restrooms and Arby’s drive thru’s. But you know what?

It could be a lot worse.

We could not have each other.

In a bit..

–tf

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