Dear Mom and Dad,
I wonder if you felt the same emptiness I did, when you dropped me off at college in the late 1970s. I was standing at the entrance of my dorm at the top of a hill, watching as you drove off in the pickup and camper. I don’t remember tears, but I certainly had an empty heart. As the first in my family to go to college, the novelty was underscored by my choice of California – an exotic place for a visit much less to live. You must have had misgivings starting a few days earlier on our arrival, driving through east Oakland. Dad even said “it’s like mile after mile of Hillyard,” the wrong side of town in Spokane where we lived. Cue the Hillyardite jokes.
Calling home long distance required planning, and was an expense not taken lightly in those days. I’m sure I told you several times when I called with bouts of homesickness that I would probably stick out the first year but then I’d transfer someplace closer to home. Did you encourage me to stay, or to return? I don’t remember. Had we only known. Looking down from that hill, watching your camper disappear around the corner I certainly didn’t foresee that I would never live at home again or than an extraordinary life would unfold for me in California. It has taken a long, long time to appreciate the significance of that first day of college.