The Long and Winding Road (to the Future)

Unless you’re a single parent or sibling or other relevant caring person who has moved an 18 year old into college from across the country, I might sound over-dramatic here. I’ve admitted many times before that I’m indeed a drama queen at times, but for real, this is serious stuff.

Last week, I moved my brother into college. He took the train from New Jersey to San Francisco, where I picked him up. The next morning, we finally took the drive we’ve been talking about for a year and meandered up the 101 to Oregon. For 16 hours. It was gorgeous and wonderful, and I tried to take work calls from the road with intermittent success. We ate at gross diners, consumed junk food and played silly games when driving through the 20mph zones. We stopped at a hotel and drove the last two hours in the morning.

When I offered to move him into school, I thought it would be a case of buying cool things for a dorm room and wandering Portland together again. Instead found myself fighting an anxiety attack the moment we walked in the door. Every second after, I wondered whether this was me having issues or whether he was also freaking out. Aside from the overwhelming suffocation of “go here, do this, sign here, this is where you need to be for the next 36 hours, but not in order", I was given a stack of papers and a nametag I was expected to wear. So while Derek went to get his free t-shirt, I found myself standing alone, feeling like everyone in the room was watching me like I was a pre-teen mother. I assure you, this didn’t help my anxiety. I wanted to scream, “but I’ve made good choices in life and this is why I’m here- STOP JUDGING ME!".

I’m sure they weren’t (ok, some were) and I’m sure I don’t care that much what people think. But for someone who has never really imagined or desired being a parent, this was all too weird. And to make it worse, I had to act cool. I wasn’t allowed to be the one losing my sh*t.

The rest of the day and the following day were just as intense, but Derek made a friend who had come from NY on her own, and the three of us decided to skip the madness and go to dinner in the city. Being the practical, experienced older sister to two 18 year olds was much more my speed, and I only wished we had taken the orientation off campus sooner.

My grandmother reminded me at the end of the first day that I had been to three different colleges, gotten three degrees, and had been fully on my own with no help at 18- so surely, this should have been a piece of cake. Whether it was that this was a community / get involved type of school or that I felt judged, I’m not sure- Ultimately, I think it was the feeling of responsibility for someone else instead of just myself. I’ve always figured out the general direction of what I want and how I plan on getting it, but helping plan for someone else’s future is crazy, and a bit awesome once the anxiety is out of the way. I cried in the car when I left him on the third day, like a parent, and then spent 12 hours driving back to my world I’ve built for myself.

And now I have two years of mental preparing before our next brother goes to college…

Between working from the road, being the only driver for 30 hours, and working out things like financial aid and registration and making sure he didn’t double up on Gen Ed classes, I didn’t take many photos. Here are the few I managed to snap along the way.