Cathy is now my spirit cartoon. Previously, it had been Garfield.
So there is one upside to the otherwise stinging, heart-crushing milestone of dropping off my oldest child at college this past weekend: I’m pretty sure I single-handedly solved California’s drought problem. You’re welcome, Golden State.
OK, maybe even two possible upsides: I had to have dropped 10 pounds in water weight from all the tears. If I remember right, that’s exactly what the wrestlers did in high school to make their weight class — get together and have a good cry.
On the downside, I discovered a new health condition: angstma, which is angst-related asthma. I felt like I couldn’t breathe the entire weekend. I was also rendered mostly mute because I couldn’t trust myself to talk, lest the sobs I was stuffing deep down might tumble out and never stop. And of course, there is this horrible, unsettling feeling of not being quite whole any more.
“Well,” my husband said on the long walk back to the empty minivan in the parking garage, “that went way better than daycare drop-off.”
This was the photo that hung on No. 1’s cubby at daycare. Those toes — each all the same size — kill me. So does the dimpled chin.
True. No. 1 was super angry when she was abandoned at daycare for the first full day and threw quite the tantrum. At least, that’s the way it was reported to me later. I didn’t go, knew I couldn’t bear it. I also made him take her to school on the first day of kindergarten because, again, I am just that big of a wuss. But this time, I put on my big girl panties with the extra stretchy waistband, and the three of us settled in for a 10-hour drive that wasn’t nearly long enough.
Her new home is much more institutional than her old one.
“Aw man,” she said, surveying the weird, ridged cement walls that had chunks gouged out of it over many, many years. “It looks like prison. I’m going to go check out the bathroom and see if it’s better than ‘Orange is the New Black.’ That’s how I’m going to judge everything now.”
The dorm she was hoping for was the brand-spanking new one, 45 years younger than the one she actually ended up in with the other engineering students. Interestingly, the new building has coed bathrooms. While No. 1 and I swabbed every surface with Lysol wipes and put away her stuff, her dad wandered off for a bit.
“I know you wanted to be in that new dorm,” he announced upon his return. “But you dodged a bullet. There are a couple of college girls who are now rethinking how good of an idea it is to live in a place with a coed bathroom after someone’s dad was pooping in there.”
I have no appropriate segue after that except that it made me laugh so hard that I — yup, you guessed it — cried. It was both a nice change of pace and supremely annoying that he could hone his comedic stylings in the midst of such heartbreak.
Yesterday, I went into her room, not to wallow, but for practical reasons because I’m pretty sure that carpet hasn’t been vacuumed in six months. Her room had that “Quick! We only have 5 minutes to escape!” vibe, which it always does. A single used Kleenex was on the floor, the comforter and top sheet were hanging off the bed. I had to pick up discarded cardboard packaging and a bag from a store she bought jeans at three months ago. Her graduation gown was still hanging next to the door.
Please do me a favor if you see me — you can do the sympathetic head tilt, but don’t ask me how it was to drop my daughter off at college because while I could stand to drop another few pounds, I’d really rather do it in a less painful way, like through a bad case of food poisoning. Oh, and actually one more thing you can do for me: Please don’t let me get a puppy.