After he met us outside Wilder Hall, Ben walked us to his dorm.
It's been a long time, but the atmosphere of Dascomb Hall was distinctly familiar. Conversations leaked out into the hallway. Some rooms had bodies sprawled hither and yon. Doors opened and shut. Other students walked by us engaged in conversations upon which the fate of the world seemed to turn. At the end of the hall, a woman was cleaning the lounge, moving couches and chairs back into their proper places — who knows what chaos erupted in there last night.
Ben's roommate wasn't around. (In fact, we didn't see him at all that weekend.) But there was plenty of evidence that two guys lived in the room. Yes, there was plenty of evidence. I know I wasn't good at room-keeping when I was an undergraduate (something I never grew out of), but you know I don't remember piles of stuff quite like this. It made his room when he lived here seem like a ... like a TEMPLATE.
Oh my god. I failed as a parent.
Oh well, it's his issue, now.
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"Hi Ben. You know we're coming up this weekend, right?"
He knew. And he sounded as happy as might be expected of a freshman when parents intrude on first semester campus life.
I asked if he wanted to get together Thursday night when we arrived. He said no but that he had set the entire weekend aside. As it turned out, we got in very late on Thursday, so not seeing him Thursday was no big deal.
Friday morning after we registered for the Parents' Weekend activities, I called him.
From the sound of his voice, I thought maybe I had called too early.
"Where are you? Are you up?"
He was up and somewhere not too far away.
"Stay there," he said. "I'll find you."
The sun was shining down from a cloudless blue sky. The grass was soft and green. And although fall color had pretty much come and gone, there was still enough gold and red in the trees to impress us. We walked along the sidewalk trying to figure out what direction he'd come from.
He was already smiling at us when Trudy pointed and said, "There he is!"
His hair was long, and he walked with a confident stride. He was wearing a light sweater — a sure sign that he's adapted to northern Ohio weather. We started walking towards him. He stepped off the sidewalk and began running to us.
"Hi you guys!" he said as he put his arms around Trudy.
"Hi dad," he said as he gave me a hug.
"Hi Ben. It's good to see you."
He looked just like a ... college student.
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