Checking My Dust

Posted by Michelle Wheatley on

I remember when my parents left me in the dorms freshmen year after they helped me to get settled in. I had a euphoric feeling for the rest of the day: I was on my own! I could do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I felt like a true, independent grown-up. What a rush!

It would be nice to say that I maintained that memorable feeling for the full four years I went to college. As with any long period, there were highs and there were lows. I had a lot of living and a LOT of learning to do, academically and otherwise. There were times when I felt the strengths of the friendships I was lucky enough to have found, and there were times when I felt very lonely.

Not that I admitted the lows to my parents often. I was, and sometimes am, stubborn like that. My independence has been one of my greatest strengths and somehow also one of my worst weaknesses.

Living in the dorms where I went to college, at Marymount University, was an experience unlike anything I could have prepared for. There were around 700 people living on campus, with about 2/3 of them being women. You knew almost everyone by name with a snippet of possibly true information about who they were. (Gossiping happened from time to time, as you might have expected.)

Of the friends I still keep in touch with, I had the pleasure of rooming with many of them. We have some funny stories we still laugh about today: the jumping spider bug with super powers, silly instant messaging, the bird who nested in our bathroom. It was like having a second family around almost all the time, which I loved.

Checking mail was something I tried to do everyday with the hopes of receiving something fun from home. We all knew that there was a greater chance of not having mail than of having mail. While we were living independently, we were pretty coddled in the dorm, not having to worry about unique utility bills, so the rare mail we did get was almost exclusively exciting.

Because of the infrequency of getting mail, we dubbed the task "checking my dust" to not get our hopes up too high.

On a good day, you'd get a letter or a card in your box. I remember my parents sent me a SpongeBob card to cheer me up after a break-up because...well, SpongeBob, amiright?

On a super special day, you'd get a package. It was quite the ceremony because packages didn't fit in the mailboxes. You'd have to go back to the mail room and announce that you were picking up a package like you were accepting an Academy Award. "And the award for Most Loved Student goes!"

I used to love getting snacks in my care packages. Not having to venture all the way across the field to the cafeteria to snack was always epic. I especially loved when my friend, Grace's dad would mail out his chocolate chip cookies. They were legendary. We would swarm to her room to help gobble them up. Hmm, I wonder why she ultimately chose to move off of campus??

Did you live away from home for college? If so, what was the best thing you received in a care package?


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