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Move-in day at the dorm

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
August 17, 2003
My personal favorite comic character, Snoopy in the long-running Peanuts series, is a frustrated writer who often starts his next attempt at putting words on paper with "It was a dark and stormy night …"
Taking some license from Snoopy, I can report that moving my daughter Sarah into her dorm room at Ole Miss last Thursday was anything but dark and stormy. It was a bright sunny day with temperatures in the 90s and a heat index of at least 110. It only seemed hotter.
That's August in Mississippi, even in Oxford and the northern reaches of our state where, believe it or not, it can sometimes be cooler than Meridian.
But there we were with her Volkswagen Jetta and my Dodge pickup truck full of the dorm essentials that will surround her and roommate Melissa as they begin their sophomore year.
After we checked in and got Sarah's room key, and after we went by the Campus Police headquarters to pick up her student parking decal, we headed over to the dorm. Traffic on campus was extraordinarily heavy, but everyone seemed calm and courteous.
Parking at a premium
Parking in the dorm's huge asphalt-paved lot was at a premium and heat radiated from its surface as hundreds of other students and parents negotiated curbs with appliances on dollies and walked with arms full. Dust from construction of an adjacent parking lot simply added to the atmosphere.
We found a parking spot somewhere between Oxford and Holly Springs and proceeded to unload the vehicles, suddenly struck by the realization that they would not unload themselves. Truthfully, Sarah had packed her car very well with clothes and items in those plastic storage boxes with sliding lids that make toting them a lot easier.
We carried in a refrigerator, of a size smaller than the one in your typical kitchen but still perfectly adequate for the dorm; fortunately, I had the foresight to bring an appliance dolly for this job. There was a microwave; laptop computer and printer; bulletin board for posting photographs that will capture the year; clothes; lamps; a box of pictures from home; a rug; and assorted other items, such as sheets and pillows; oh, and a vase with a leaf from one of the oak trees on the grounds of William Faulkner's home.
Moving her things into the room actually took only a couple of hours, with Sarah and me and, thankfully, one of her friends who volunteered to help.
Then we managed to fight the traffic and head for a nearby Wendy's for a late lunch and some good conversation on her post-graduate professional aspirations. She is an excellent student and I am happy she is thinking of her future.
Time to go
With all the stuff in the room and Sarah already getting it situated in the proper places, I rested for a minute or two and decided nostalgia for my own college days notwithstanding it was time to go. I gave her a hug, took another look around at the really cute and charming room Sarah and Melissa have created, said my goodbyes and walked down the stairs and back out into the heat.
In one way I was elated that my part of the move-in was finished; I'll keep the temporary dorm parking permit that rested on my dashboard to mark the day. Others were still struggling with things that were too heavy or too big and just didn't want to go up the stairs.
I drove home feeling old and out of shape and nearly exhausted from even this little bit of physical exertion. The sweat dried. Muscles I realized had not been used lately ached, but it was a good sort of ache from which you can recover quickly.
A hot and sweaty day? Yes.
Thankful that Sarah's room is on a lower floor of the dorm? Yes. I felt for the parents and students who decided not to wait on the elevators and lugged shelves and TVs and boxes up more flights of stairs than we did.
Grateful to spend a few more hours with a daughter who is growing up way too fast but still from time to time needs my help? You better believe it. Dads are made for this kind of thing.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world.