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Packing for College
Then and Now

by Amy Kenneley

Waving goodbye to mom as the old '52 Chevie pulled away, I stood at the steps of my college dormitory. At my feet were my worldly possessions, soon to be stuffed into a 10 & 10 room shared with an as-yet-unknown roommate.

The 3-piece set of Samsonite luggage (mottled light green) had been a gift from a doting relative. Inside were carefully selected college clothes, including two pair of Bermuda shorts, shortie p.j's, assorted sweaters and a requisite blazer. Oh yes-- my stadium jacket for winter and my prom dress from Senior High as well.

Also packed were the sturdy "bucks" and a pair of heels matching the prom dress. I was hoping to get mileage out of both. And the most important item: my 20 pound portable manual typewriter, bought by Mom in my junior year of high school.

I dragged my possessions up landing by landing and found my room. My new roommate had already found it. She had chosen her bed. The other became my bed by default. Default meaning the mattress was default I had backaches.

Her name was Ginny, and her older brother had dropped her off with her single suitcase. She was a farm girl from a large family, on a two-year "cadet" course to become a teacher and to finish her final two years of college while teaching.

I was a city girl, intent on both study and partying. She got up with the birds, I dragged myself to morning classes. She turned off the lights at 9 p.m. I tried to come in quietly on weekends.

I remind myself sometimes of THOSE DAYS-when dorms were all male or all female. There were no mixed- gender floors or -heavens!-mixed gender rooms or roommates. The campus had "hours" for females. Week nights females were to be in by 10 pm. Weekends it was 12 midnight.

Two weeks into freshman year, the portable typewriter was in constant use by both Ginny and I. We had made deals-I let her use my typewriter, she got me up for 8 o'clock classes. Someone had a corn popper in the next room. We were welcome to use it occasionally. Someone else down the end of the hall had a portable stereo. We were not welcome to use that, but I heard "Camelot" and "My Fair Lady" so often I learned all the songs.

Off to College Today

Yesterday I heard the familiar "ding" of my iPhone (look how progressive I sound, now that I have my grandson on speed-dial to explain icons and stylus techniques). The "ding" summoned me to view a photo taken of another grandson's "ready room" for his departure to college this week. I spread my fingers as taught, and enlarged the scene. Then I dragged my fingers around this screen to see what he had assembled.

Now I know why they were renting a minivan to take him a few thousand miles from home. Large floppy bags sprawled across the bed, containing clothes for any occasion, including a tuxedo! As a music major, the tux and the hard case with his cello was important luggage. A large box containing his electronic keyboard was there, along with his TV, his laptop, his iPhone, and various gaming devices. Was a printer hidden somewhere?

Skirting the bed were other "must haves" such as a semester's worth of snacks (silly mom, those will be gone the first few days)a desk lamp, the "required" fitted sheets for his bed, his own special pillow, and who knows what else that will be acquired in the coming months as he settles in to his new away-from-parents -life?

What, you ask-no minifridge? Not to worry-he was matched months ago with his future roommate. Both families have confabbed on what can be shared. Grandson brings the TV, the roomie brings the minifridge. They have exchanged tweets for weeks. There will be few surprises when they actually share their well-stocked room with ensuite bathroom.

No long cafeteria lines for them, either. They are equipped with prepaid "debit" plastic meal cards, also usable at the local fast food venues nearby. Guess they won't have to drop quarters into a pay phone as I did to call home-a fast text message should keep mom and dad moderately informed of his comings and goings.

And then there is Skype if they really want to see the messy room that two teen age boys will be sharing for a year.

Times have changed. Am I jealous? You bet I am!

Wouldn't it just blow his mind if his grandma showed up as a freshman, too?

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