The drive was long and monotonous, but I was giddy to begin a completely new experience. A completely new life.
Five hours after we had loaded up the Mitsubishi with all my important possessions, we pulled up to the college dormitory that I would be calling “home” for the next two semesters. The day was warm and clear (eventually I would come to the realization that this was a rarity in this snow-belt upstate town) and the gentle wind blew through the leaves, the likes of which danced on the branches in response.
The other freshmen, walking anxiously along the campus sidewalks, had that exact same expression of excited trepidation on their faces. My mom parked the car next to the prodigious building where I needed to sign in and my sister and I each grabbed a suitcase from the over-stuffed the trunk.
After taking care of the necessary paperwork, we walked over to the dorm elevator. Stopping on the sixth floor, I walked with anxiety toward my new abode. Was my roommate there already? What was she like? Would we share clothes and stay up late at night to talk about boys? Peering my head in, I saw two empty beds, a couple of dressers, and a pair of identical desks. I let out the breath that I hadn't realized had been trapped in my lungs since the elevator. No one else had yet arrived.
After setting some things up, making the bed, and hanging up some of my clothes in the tiny closet, it was time for my family to leave... I was to be on my own.
We traveled down the elevator and over to the car, where we said our goodbyes. I hugged my mom and sister and promised to call. They honked the horn as they backed out of the lot and I laughed and waved goodbye. The car got smaller and smaller until they rounded the corner and was gone.
The reality was sinking in: I was finally an independent woman! I turned around and took a few steps toward the college that lay before me. And I cried.