Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Roommate

"You can't be roommates," I told Eldest Daughter. "You can be friends, good friends, but not roommates."


"Because roommates always have fights. At some point in the year you'll hate each other and then you'll blame me," I said.

"It'll be fine, Mom. We have a lot in common and she's really sweet. I really like her."

The knot in my stomach grew. It flipped and flopped while I tried to sleep that night, which was mostly me counter-flipping and counter-flopping.

We talked again as she was having breakfast. "Okay. Be roommates. But pinkie promise me that you will remember that everyone has a fight with their roommate sometime. And you will be kind to her no matter what."

"Mom, you're making too big of a deal out of this. Just think of how much fun you and her mom will have together."

And so they decided to become roommates.

Two months earlier, one of my sorority sisters posted on Facebook that her daughter was going to the same Big 10 school that Eldest Daughter planned to attend. The sorority sister and I got in touch and decided to introduce the two of them, thinking that they might have something in common, the least of which being they were both headed a plane ride away from home. I had not seen this sister since our college graduation from a different Big 10 school and she was raising her family on the east coast. The four of us went to orientation together in July and, while our daughters met with their advisors and discussed dorm room decor, we created new memories to go with the decades-past ones.

As it turns out, the two are super close and have made a nice squad of friends. Both are little shy, fiercely loyal and own up to their intelligence and the places they'll go.

Eldest Daughter tells me that there is a lot of pressure at school to find your people, to find your forever friends. This picture was taken yesterday, before the football game. These two may be on their way. Only time will tell.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Into the Wild

RBF has nothing on me. I've come up with a new acronym: CMF. Crying Mother Face.

Admit it: quite a few of you are rocking this look lately. It's what we wear after we drop our children at college. I put on an Academy-Award-worthy performance of bravery when actually in the presence of my child. It was after I left her dorm room that I completely lost it. I cried so hard that my throat ached and I had to gasp for air. I walked away from my husband, not because I didn't want him to see me cry, but because I didn't have enough Kleenex to share in case he melted down, too.

When I stopped crying, I realized that our younger two children will need to go to one of the colleges within an hour's drive of our home. There is no way I can do that again.

The thing is, Eldest Daughter is happy. She got into her first choice school. Her roommate is super sweet and they seem well-suited for each other. Except for Fridays, her classes don't start until 11am. She hit the jackpot on the dorm; she's in a 1930s building which was renovated a year ago and which is connected to the student union. This means that during the most miserable of Michigan blizzards she can wear flip flops to get Panda Express and a grande quad nonfat one pump no whip mocha. This weekend she went to some fraternity parties and a football game at The Big House. This is what we hope for.

Classes start tomorrow. I wonder if she will shoot a selfie on the way out the door just because it's tradition.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Forever on the first tee

It's hard for me to imagine a world without Margo. But here we are.

Margo and Dave were close friends for 28 years. They met at his first job out of college and their friendship would span three marriages, a whole lot of now-defunct-or-acquired startups, dozens of bottles of really good red wine, and countless rounds of golf. Dave officiated at her wedding to Dennis, on the 18th green at Pebble Beach.

She and Dave were in constant competition for the #1 sales spot at whatever company they both worked for. Because of this we traveled to Palm Springs, Cabo and Puerto Rico together. She taught us the expression "closing skirt." That, apparently, got her husband's attention as he started out as a customer.

Margo wore a hat to our wedding, many hats while golfing, but no helmet the weekend we skied at Kirkwood. The last hat she wore was of the Penguin variety, with a serving of dry ice.

Six years ago she called Dave and told him that she had just been laid off from her job. While that was bothersome, what really irked her was the diagnosis she'd just received of breast cancer.

If anything, that diagnosis made Margo work harder. She started a new business, traveled even more, and thought of her cancer only when she absolutely had to. As she put it, "It's a book on my bookshelf. I take it down when I have to and then I stick it right back up there."

I could write on and on about her entertaining, because it was legendary. Dave's birthday. Seth and Lori's anniversary. Dennis' 50th birthday at Lake Tahoe. Christmas parties in the San Carlos hills house with the tree on a turntable which so brightly that it could be seen from space. Or at least from the approach to SFO. Regular dinners at her house were special occasions.

However, what stays with me most are the little things that make up a whole person -- how much she loved her dogs and loved sharing them with my animal-passionate daughter. How she was so excited for Dave to meet Dennis, who was so sweetly nervous that he spilled a drink all down his shirt. How much thought she gave to decorating her stepson's room in their house.

The memories of Margo come to me at odd times. They surprise me and I have to stop to catch my breath. Yesterday I saw a picture of the Musee D'Orsay on Facebook, a place Margo and I have been together. Today Camp Parks was all over the news because it was on lockdown; Margo dragged us to look at houses near there perhaps 20 years ago. (She conveniently neglected to mention the women's prison there. We passed on those houses.) Never again will I be able to eat bucatini without thinking of the day in we shared a plate of it in the pouring rain. In Rome.

 I am grateful for Margo for bringing Dennis into our life. Godspeed, Dennis. We are right alongside you.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The search for the perfect roommate.

One of The Pinks will start college on the other side of the country in September. She got in to her first choice school - audible sigh of relief - and has just selected a roommate.

Today's roommate selection process is very different than when Dave and I went off to college. Like many of you, were were randomly assigned roommates. Mine was actually from Madison, the city our college was in. She was a train wreck of epic proportion and flunked out the first semester. Yet her parents didn't know what to do with her and they'd paid her housing fee in full so she just stayed in the dorms, drinking her way through to June. My guess is that they hoped she'd find herself a husband. Or a sugar daddy.

Kids today can take the luck of the draw or they can request specific roommates. They find these people through apps such as or Facebook groups set up for their specific college. The back-and forth is a lot like I imagine to be. Except that once you commit to a roommate, you are tethered together for an entire academic year.

The first part of this is looking at the prospective roommate's Instagram feed. If you like that then you start texting and asking questions along the lines of: Are you going to rush? Do you drink? Do you play sports? Have you ever been outside of the US?

What has surprised me most about this ritual is the number of people who look for roommates prior to actually committing to the school they are roommate shopping for. Apparently this is common practice.

I actually think that roommates should be vetted based on clothing and shoe size. Have you seen how tiny those dorm closets are?! Sharing is caring.