Before I begin, I need to take a moment to thank Christine Baker and Nikki Darling for allowing me the opportunity to guest spot on this week’s College Corner. This column has become a huge hit on TSB and both of the girls do an outstanding job every week of bringing stories and tips on how to succeed or how to get through the four years of college. Now the reason why they have brought me out of the bullpen this week to write this column is because I was the first of the three of us to move into their own apartment in Denton. Christine, Nikki, and myself will all be attending the University of North Texas this fall, but I moved to Denton a week before everybody else because my place isn’t a student-living apartment complex.
The story I am about to share with you all is the events that occurred my first full weekend living in my new apartment and on my own for the first time in my 20 years on Earth. Whether you laugh or whether you cry a little bit, I hope any kid who is about to fly away from the nest for the first time makes as many memories as I made my first weekend by myself. At the very least, just try and remember the little moments because it is stories like the one I am about to share with you now that I will treasure for the rest of my life. So without further ado, let’s start with move-in day.
8 a.m.: I slept on my couch in the TV room for the last time as an official resident of my parent’s house. This is the first time that I have been truly nervous about the move. Walking into my room only makes things worse. There are only a couple of things hanging on the wall now, a drastic difference from its appearance merely hours ago. I am starting to feel like a grown up now.
8:30: It is time to go get to moving truck. My dad and I have some fun with the employee behind the counter at the pick-up place. He likes to toot his own horn about the success of his business a little too much. I can tell that this is going to be an on-going joke with my pops and I for the next couple of weeks.
9:15: We are almost done loading everything onto the truck. When you include my dresser, bed, five boxes of clothes, my new sofa, my new chair, boxes of movies, and other assorted crap, you have a U-HAUL van that is pretty much filled to the max. Of course my beautiful 51-inch, 3DTV will go in my car with the most protection I can offer it. I plan on my TV being the center of attention in my new apartment. I’m a guy.
10:30: Upon arrival at the apartment complex, I begin going over some of the last minute paperwork I have to fill out before I can officially move in. When asked for my electricity confirmation code, I tell the leasing lady that I believe it is in my car. When I go to check said car, I can’t find the paperwork for the life of me. For someone who really wanted to feel prepared and grown up, potentially losing this valuable piece of paperwork has me slightly on edge. No bueno.
10:35: I drive right past my apartment while my parents and brother both park right in front of it. It’s not like I am the one moving into the place or anything. A couple deep breaths and a nice pep talk later, I am ready to begin unloading the U-HAUL truck.
10:36: It’s hot already.
10:45: Everyone is sweating buckets by this point. I am on the second level of a three-tiered building, but just going in and out of the 100-degrees sun carrying boxes and sofas is the biggest hurdle we have to overcome. My mom asks my brother and I if we want to take a break. We both give a strong no, believing that we should just grind through it and get it done. This part of moving isn’t so much fun. Texas summers aren’t really too much fun.
12:30 p.m.: My brother and dad have gone back to drop off the truck while my mom is out to get some last-minute items for my kitchen. For the first time I am alone in my apartment. There are still boxes and random items scattered all over the ground, but I can already feel like it is home. However, I suddenly realize that at any moment one of my family members could walk through that door and keep me company again. I wonder if that is why it feels like home. The moment I know that they won’t be back unless I ask them to, I wonder if I will feel the same way.
1:30: Everybody is back in the apartment and doing their separate assignments. My mom is making sure my kitchen is all squared away, while my dad and brother are putting together my sofa and chair. I am in my room trying to figure out how to store all of my clothes and stuff. I go to check on everybody in the living room. Alex, my brother, and dad are quite the dynamic duo when it comes to constructing furniture. No one could accuse them of being quiet workers, as the sarcastic comments and inappropriate comebacks are in full swing here at my place.
2:15: My mom bought these metal shelves for my pantry that you have to put together. On the box it clearly reads “E-Z Shelving,” inferring that anyone with two hands and a brain should be able to put together this three-tiered shelving unit. I decide that it is time for me to get in on the action and help put together something, so I open the box and pull out all of the pieces. I find the directions and begin to examine the first step. All I have to do is slide one pole into another. Sounds easy enough. I move onto step two. Now it wants me to take this black circle object and snap it in the center of one of the poles. I don’t know how it could possibly snap. I look around to see if anyone sees the confusion clearly written on my face. No one sees me. I need to find a way to leave the situation quietly and covertly.
2:16: I am seen trying to leave the scene of the crime. I am not cut out to be an engineer or a builder of anything. I look back at the box and take a look at its ridiculous name. I can’t wait to throw it out.
4:45: Time for dinner. We pick up Chick-Fil-A since it is close to my apartment. I can feel the moment coming. Soon I will be all by myself and 30 miles away from my home. Thirty miles doesn’t seem like too far in retrospect, but it is still distance I have never experienced before. I have never been more nervous than I am now. The chicken doesn’t taste as good as it usually does.
6:15: We are putting away the last of the stuff lying around the living room. It is time for them to go. They don’t seem too nervous about the whole thing so I take that as a good sign. I think they know that I can do this. I begin to keep telling myself that over and over again.
6:25: They are officially gone. The window in my bedroom looks out into the parking lot. Sure enough I can see my parents walking out. I get a little chocked up seeing them walk away. They know I can do this. They know I can do this. It’s working so far, but I still have many hours left in this first night I have to battle through. I’ve never felt this much nervousness in my life. They know I can do this. I know I can do this.
7:30 a.m.: I have to wake up early to take care of a school issue. I slide out of bed and stop before I reach the door. As if yesterday had all been a dream, I look around my room and realize that I really am here. After a night where I got a surprising amount of sleep, I don’t feel as much anxiousness as I did hours ago.
7:45: I pull up the ‘Messages’ app on my iPhone and see the texts from my editor Steve. I review the conversation from last night and realize that I am lucky enough to have a boss who’s a great friend as well. By sharing his own experiences of his first time leaving home for college, it gave me a better sense of calm that I’ll be OK here.
9:30: Back to the apartment now. All of a sudden the absence is really starting to hit me. I have been spoiled all my life with having cable and Internet at my disposal, so not having either until Sunday is very, very strange. I have a ton of movies to choose from, but there is something about having cable that makes me feel comfortable. Like I said before, I have been spoiled.
7:30 a.m.: It’s cable installation day! Of course the guy tells me he will be there between 8-10 a.m., so I am hoping he knocks on my door sooner rather than later. It is Sunday though so anything is really possible.
9:05: He is getting here at 10. Darn.
9:30: He is here. We maintain a decent conversation throughout the whole process, but I realize that every show I say I like on TV, he absolutely hates. One of the more bizarre exchanges I have ever had in my life.
10:15: He was surprisingly quick. I check my computer to see if the Internet is up and working. It is. TV working? Check. My phone service that I will never use but came with the bundle package at no additional price? Check. Now my place is starting to feel truly like home.
2:30 p.m.: Clouds are getting dark here in Denton. I check on the Weather Channel and sure enough we have a Thunderstorm Warning for Denton County. This is my first storm in my new place. I am excited.
3:45: The power flickers off. Oh no.
3:46: Power is back on. The lightning is insane right now. I kind of chuckle and get back to watching my movie.
3:47: Power is out. People are starting to flock to their balconies to check out what’s going on outside. The rain isn’t as hard anymore but the lighting is still making its presence known. First day with TV and I lose power. Go Denton!
4:47: Power is still out. There are some kids playing volleyball on the sand court right outside of my balcony window. It is so hot in this room so I decide to grab a drink and walk outside. What is a better way to meet some of your neighbors than during a lightning storm on a sand volleyball court?
4:50: I meet a couple guys who live on the other side of the complex. They seem pretty cool and relaxed. One of the girls who are playing in the game to the left of me misplays a ball and it rolls towards my feet. I pick it up and toss it back to her. She smiles at me and says quick thanks. I return the smile and turn back to the two guys. I make a quick comment about how cute she is. Seconds later I find out that it is one of the guy’s girlfriends of two years. Safe to say this friendship won’t be going anywhere.
4:52: People are starting to disperse a bit back into their apartments, so I decide to do the same thing. As I am walking towards the stairs directly behind the court, I hear a loud “Heads up!” shouted from almost behind me. As I turn to see what is going on, it doesn’t take me long to realize whom the heads up was intended for.
4:53: The red mark on my forehead shows that the heads up was intended for me. If the next two years here are anything like the first weekend, I may not survive to see my graduation.
As I am writing this, I have been living by myself for almost a week. There are still moments where I really do miss being a couple steps from my parents, or being two doors down from playing a video game with my brother. But in the end, I have never been more excited to experience life than I do right now. For those kids who are about to make the move for the first time, whether you are an incoming junior like me or a freshmen straight out of high school, keep telling yourself that you can do it. It may sound cliché and simple, but continuing to tell yourself that you can do it was the biggest reason why I am happy right now.
College is some of the most revealing and self-enriching times of a persons life, and while I have developed over the first two years under the house of my folks, now I get to finish the process all on my own in a brand new city.
They know I can do this. I know I can do this.