Sometime in the 80's, one of my favorite all-time movies was made. "Back to School" was Rodney Dangerfield at his best. He plays the father of a college-age son who decides to enroll at his son's university. There's something hilarious and quirky about an adult person enrolling as a resident-student at university. The movie is very entertaining...and being a child of the 80's, the Oingo Boingo soundtrack is awesome. (Don't know who Oingo Boingo is? Man... you're missing out.)
I find myself in a similar situation. 34 years old...going back to school. Dorm life on the horizon. It's strange. Feels odd. For so many years, I've lived in my home. In a month or so, I'm going to be living in a dorm. As I began to go through my things, the drastic reduction of space had a very practical application in what I could pack and what I had to leave behind. And as I move through my days, I begin to find myself with interesting puzzles. For example, how will I do morning coffee? The washer & dryer probably won't be just over there in the utility room. And for that matter - where will I keep my dirty clothes until I wash? My "weekend fun" closet had to go... candle making equipment, geocaching stuff, my "family fun time" board games - most all didn't make the cut.
And - not only is it a matter of "paring down" - but I have some different needs to address. Having something cold to drink at hand is a 'must have' for afternoons & evenings. Where will I store that? There won't be the refrigerator in the kitchen. There won't be the store just down the street. It's not all a matter of worries and sadness...there's something neat about it as well. And its leading to some situations I wouldn't have imagined would come back into my life.
There was the trip to Wal-Mart with grammaw to buy storage totes. And - while we were there, we looked at Boxer Shorts & T-Shirts. It was interesting...like I'd jumped into a time warp back 16 years when I was a month away from heading off to college. And then there was the trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond with mom. I know it had to look odd to the staff. Here was a 30 something guy with his mom...browsing the "back to college" section...testing out the various solutions to the laundry hamper problem the market has come up with for college living. (If its been a while since you've looked at the inventions available to make dorm living more comfortable... do yourself a favor and go to Wal Mart, Target, or Bed, Bath & Beyond to check out the selection. It's AMAZING what they've come up with!)
What's funny is the child-like excitement I felt on those trips with grammaw & mom. It took me a little by surprise. The hamper thing we bought is really COOL. It has three compartments so I can sort clothes as I go. And - get this - IT'S ON WHEELS...so I can roll the laundry to do the wash instead of having to lug it on my back like back in college. (Ok... Ok... I guess I need to be a little more honest. I DID have a bag to put my laundry in while at college. But - truth of the matter was... I washed maybe, what - TWICE a semester? and packed everything to take home for breaks to wash then.)
Don't think that strategy is going to work this time.
And - these drink things I bought...they look like minature water bottles for a water cooler...with a sports-drink spout on the top. I'll have water & Crystal Light for days! I still haven't decided on the "morning coffee" puzzle...but I've had a lifetime of fun looking at all the options and trying to determine which will be the best.
I know it sounds odd...but this "Back to School" thing is at once nostalgic, exciting... and giving me some really great new memories with my family. I'm grateful that in many situations these days I don't have to look very far for the silver lining in the cloud. Not all situations, mind you...but many.