Today I was invited to drive 2 1/2 hours to Tuscaloosa, Alabama...home of The University of Alabama...by my daughter. Jill is taking a summer course and had to take one of her proctored tests in Macroeconomics. Unfortunately, she has about as much of a natural bent for this subject as her mother did, and had been up all night studying, reviewing online lectures, and taking practice tests. Since the girl that she and Emily are staying with did not get through with class until 5:00...she was looking to fill her afternoon. She decided that today would be a great day to show me her future home.
This desire to show me her new digs coincided with my final vacation day this week...and she apparently could not bear the thought of her mother spending another day in her hot pink moumou. (Editor's note: "hot" describing the color pink and certainly NOT the moumou or the wearer of said sad little garment.) Never mind that another day of sloth had previously sounded like an excellent plan to me.
I decided to spend gas money to travel up and see the place that she will be residing next year with three of her Phi Mu sorority sisters...a place known by Big Dave as "The Taj Mahal" and by Jill as "The Barn" due to the fact that it is barn red in color. The subdivision is known as "The Retreat" and it houses approximately 275 houses that hold an estimated 1,000 students. It is brand new, has a pool that is amazingly large, tanning beds, and a workout room. All that is lacking is a pool boy named Raoul in a Speedo, and a tiki bar for it to seem like any random condominium at the beach. It is every college student's idea of a great place to live and every parent's nightmare.
Nightmarish in that these kids are living far better than we did in our starter homes...in COLLEGE. No "Early Salvation Army" decorating scheme. I doubt that there will be pictures of "Dogs Playing Poker" or a neon sign flashing "Live Nudes" or "Corona". Somehow beer can pyramids in the window just seem strangely out of place here. Which is both good...and sad.
Jill jumped over the deck (yes...you read DECK) and opened the house so that I could take some measurements in her private room. The private room with the private bathroom. No arguing over who cleans it because each of the girls has her own. I am pleased because this means that Jill will not carry on the legacy of having her roommates lock her in the bathroom until she cleans it which was the fate of one of Jill's direct relatives (that is so NOT her mother).
The closet is eight feet across. This will provide her with at least eight times the amount of room she had last year in the dorm. She has under the bed shoe boxes that will hold 48 pairs of shoes. Lord help us if that isn't enough. Her feet quit growing in the 7th grade...and she has most of the shoes that she's owned since that time. I have probably owned 48 pairs of shoes in my adult lifetime...total.
We spent approximately one hour discussing where her bed should be, and the pros and cons of placing her television where it makes sense versus where she thinks it would be most aesthetically pleasing. We also considered curtain options for the double window in her bedroom, baskets that would best fit in the shelves already in her closet, what size bathmat she will require, storage options, and whether dark wood, white, or black should be the furniture color.
This was done while her friend, Jack, measured endless possible areas, offered opinions, and tolerated our banter back and forth. I have decided that I like Jack. He obviously has a sister...as he did not run screaming from the room or even look uncomfortable during any of our escapades. He seemed to find us funny...although I'm sure that inside he was thinking..."shoot me...shoot me now." Oh...and I was particularly excited that he understands big words, knew to say "yes maam" every other breath, and can actually differentiate between "acceptable country music" and "please turn that crap off country music." (Which...just so you know...nearly ALL country music is the latter for me.)
I find it hysterical that their names are Jack and Jill. They are not dating...and after spending today with us...may no longer even be speaking...but I digress...
The kitchen area includes a long bar that will seat all four of the girls, and the large living room has a "wood-like-ish" floor. Well, it is actually flooring that looks like wood but is designed out of some kind of indestructible stuff that will survive not only our girls but the frat boys across the way. The trimwork is done in the "arts and crafts" style...and the windows are lovely. The added touches of a built in pantry, black appliances, nice carpet in the bedrooms, tile floors in the bathrooms, built in desks in the upstairs bedrooms, a huge laundry room, front porch, and the deck are quite unbelievable.
Well...not so unbelievable when you multiply Jill's rent times four. Yeah.
Anyway, after seeing it, I started to understand something...that upon leaving my house in three weeks...she will now become a resident of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She will have a real address other than the Phi Mu house, and she will not be coming home for the summer next year. Her future visits will be between semesters, and I'd be willing to bet that some of these will be spent on a cruise ship, lake/beachhouse or ski slopes somewhere (assuming that she can afford it).
I realized today that my little girl is a capable young woman who has earned the right to live in the "halfway house" of adulthood - even if her "halfway house" looks far more like the "Taj Mahal" of college living than "The Barn" that one would expect. I also like that she is spending time with people who can carry on a conversation and are on the dean's list rather than people who are very cute but cannot figure out how to use proper grammar...much less the proper fork...because they are far more comfortable with one that is plastic.
She and I had lunch with her soon to be roommate, Emily. We chatted about turning the utilities on, having adequate help to move everything in, and renting a big truck to haul it all up there. Just hearing their excitement and their big plans was worth picking up the tab.
Even the trip to the SuperTarget in search of some items on her well constructed list turned out to be fun. After discussing the merits of big pillows and actually picking up two...we moved on to a shower curtain liner, a small table, looked at desks, a full length mirror, and baskets. Poor Jack and Emily went with us. He must have had a dreadfully boring day on tap for this particular trip to have been his choice for entertainment. In the end, we ended up with the shower curtain liner, the mirror, and two Coke Zeros. Time for said excursion? One hour, 10 minutes. Nice.
Anyway, I was honored that she asked me to come. And although I might have actually gotten some housework done had I decided to stay here...it is equally possible that I would have been watching Foo Fighters videos on YouTube or some movie I've already seen 100 times. I'll take my Tuscaloosa trek over that...ANYTIME. Later!