William and Mary and Pat

Three weeks ago we put our oldest, Pat on a plane traveling  3000 miles east to start his first year at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.  He chose this school because of it’s academic rigor and old fashioned charm.  He had his heart set on going to college on the east coast to have the experience of living in a completely different environment than sunny CA. Neither Brian nor I could go with him to get him settled in and Pat was anxious to be independent and get there on his own.  He originally wanted to take Amtrak cross country to get there, but we convinced him that the likelihood of delays would make that an unreliable way to get to college!  He got there with all his stuff and moved into the dorm and immediately got involved with his new life.  That is Pat, he is gregarious and friendly and gets right into the social scene.  That first weekend we waited for a call from him to let us know how he was doing, I knew he was there because he sent a text that said he had arrived safely, however we didn’t hear any more after that.  So I sent him a text asking him to call when he had a little time.  No answer.  Then I tried calling him, no answer and his voicemail wasn’t set up yet.  So I sent another text.  (Pat is usually good about at least responding with a word or two to a text message) but no answer.  By this time it was Sunday afternoon and we were beginning to wonder.  I imagined that he lost his phone so I emailed him asking him to call us collect if he had to, just check in with us. No answer. Brian imagined something had happened to him and urged me to call campus police to go over to his dorm and make sure he was alright.  (Note that Brian wasn’t going to call campus police but urged ME to do it).  I resisted and started combing the William and Mary website for another way to check on him.  I called the residence hall office but of course they were closed, it WAS Sunday night and VA is 3 hours ahead.  But I found the email listing for all the RA’s in the dorms, found his RA and emailed him asking him to go tell Pat to call his parents! An hour later Pat finally called us, his RA hadn’t talked to him yet, so he had no idea we were worried.  We were cool though, happy to hear from him and made like we weren’t ready to call out the National Guard.  He was having a great time with all the orientation activities, and just hadn’t gotten around to calling.  We felt ridiculous, but urged him to just call us every weekend to let us know how things were going.  And he has done that. I reminded him that it is hard to suddenly let go, and while I do trust that he can take care of himself, I AM his mother and will always wonder what he is doing and where he is.  So on my first break from school I used up my United miles and flew out to VA to see him for myself.

Now I can rest easy, I have seen Pat in his new life.  I have met a bunch of his friends, who are all polite and charming. His dorm room looks no different than his room at home did. This photo is taken in the tidiest looking spot I could find.  All is well. We have been having a good time this weekend, negotiating a new kind of relationship.  He volunteers to me that he is drinking milk and eating vegetables every day, I let him know that he should go to the football game with his friends and not worry about entertaining me.  I take him shopping for a winter coat and some bookshelves and offer to help him organize his dorm room.  He lets me know that he and his roommate can handle it, and thanks me for buying the coat HE wants and not the one I think will keep him warmer.  This is new ground and I kind of like it.  We walked all over campus and he showed me the buildings he has classes in, where he gets his mail, where he eats, where the pianos are, and where they play chair ball. Chair ball? it is some game the guys in the dorm made up. The rest of the time I have been browsing around the colonial vill
age, listening to the street musicians, and sipping iced tea. I brought my knitting along and am enjoying some quiet time without any stud
ying to do, or home projects calling out to me.  Here are some other photos of the campus, William and Mary is the kind of campus you think of when you conjure up an image of collegiate surroundings.  Old brick buildings surround huge open grassy fields, giant old oak trees line wandering brick walkways, bicycles parked here and there, and dried leaves drifting in the breezes. 


One comment

  1. It looks like he’s doing just fine. I remember vividly when I made that trek myself. Neither of my parents came with me (San Diego to Boston), and back then, we didn’t have cell phones or email. It was very exciting for me, probably very stressful for my mom. Hang in there. He sounds like a great kid and he’ll be fine…but you already know that, right?


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