Did You Cry the First Time You Left Home?
Do you remember when you left home on your own the first time?
At 18, I had never traveled alone farther than walking to school, driving into the city to church, going to church camp, or traveling with the church choir to Mexico.
I was accepted for Early Admission into Michigan State University, so my entire Senior year of high school I knew where I was going to college.
My father had taken me on a two-week driving trip from Texas to Michigan the summer before my Senior year.
He had written to the provost’s offices and arranged meetings with them so I could check out the schools.
He had selected large and small, public and private universities for my consideration.
We walked around the campuses, ate in the campus cafeterias, sat in on a few classes, talked to students we met.
Michigan State was the only school I applied to. Coming from a high school with a graduating class of 535, I was not intimidated by a campus of 24,000.
And, in that relaxed, comfortable, straightforward style I now recognize as both Midwestern and land-grant school atmosphere, I never met a stranger on the entire campus at Michigan State.
My parents, both graduates of the University of Michigan, agreed with my choice.
So, the next summer, having received the course catalog, bought a trunk for my things and gotten my train ticket for the 12-hour ride to East Lansing, Michigan, I boarded the train without looking back.
I realize now that my parents, launching their only daughter, the second of three children, must have been sad to see me go.
But, they gave me the gift of joining in my excitement as I prepared.
Wasn’t It Scary?
There were moments.
My train was late coming into Chicago, so I missed my connection to East Lansing and had to take a bus the rest of the way, from a station a couple of miles from the train station I’d come into in Chicago.
Fortunately, my trunk had been shipped through, so I only had to carry my suitcase.
The bus station was closed in East Lansing when we got there, so I had to call a cab to take me to campus.
An older man who’d gotten off at the same time, hearing me call a cab, offered to share a ride, as he was going to the campus also.
But, I didn’t trust a stranger late at night in an empty bus station and demurred. He dropped it.
While he called his own cab, I sneaked a peak at his luggage tag, “Reverend….”
I arrived at my dorm and found the doors locked.
I rang the doorbell, after asking the cab to stay to make sure I got inside, in case I needed to check into a motel for the night.
A Resident Assistant, on duty for the night, let me in and started yelling at me immediately for coming in after hours.
When I started to explain that my train had been late and I’d missed my connection in Chicago, she started in again.
“Well, you could have called to let us know you were going to be coming in after hours.”
Then, she started to realize what I’d just said.
“Wait a minute. Where did you come from?”
“And, you’ve been traveling all day from Texas?”
“Come on in. Let me get you a room and we’ll talk about our rules tomorrow.”
I made it to my room and put my bags down.
There were girls in half a dozen rooms with the lights on, even now, well after midnight, but I was the only one in my room.
I’d promised my parents I’d call when I arrived and knew they’d be worried because it was so late.
I found a pay phone at the end of a hall, but my coins must have been bent, because they didn’t work.
I went back to where I’d seen lights on and asked the girls if I could exchange some coins as mine were too bent to work in the phone. They warmly exchanged coins with me.
I sat down at the phone and dialed.
By this time, the long trip, the delays, the anxiety, being yelled at and not even having stupid coins to make a stupid phone call had taken their toll.
I began to cry as my Mother answered the phone.
Knowing a crying child, hours late, would panic her even more, I quickly told her, “I’m all right. I’m here. It just took longer than I expected. Everything’s ok. I’ll call you tomorrow with an update.”
I hung up and made it back to my room before I collapsed onto a bed in a strange room, on a strange campus that I would call home until I met the boy who would lure me to Washington, DC and marry me two and a half years later.
What was the first time you left home like?
Were you excited or scared or both?
Did your parents cry?
To you and giving your grandchildren the confidence to conquer the world.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru
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Did You Cry the First Time You Left Home?