Leaving the girl

When you take your daughter to college, there comes a moment when you have to leave. It’s not because you feel like you have said everything you want to say. Nor is it because you have the sense that she wants you to leave. It’s because you know if you stay too long, someone will call campus security and say, “There’s a creepy old guy hanging around.”

That moment came for me a couple weeks ago. I took the girl to college. We moved her stuff into the dorm. “You’re in luck,” I said. “Your roommates haven't arrived yet. You get to choose your bed. We can arrange the furniture any way you want it. If we do it right, you can have two thirds of the room, and your roommates can split whatever is left.”

“I was kind of hoping to get along with them,” she said.

“Fine, but at least pick the bed you think is best.”

After we moved her in, we went to the Freshman Marching Band orientation. The band director greeted us all, and told us what a wonderful experience our children were about to have. He then said, “I don’t want to scare any of you students, but you might be sitting next to your future spouse. I met my wife in marching band.”

The girl was sitting between me and the father of another student. I leaned toward the girl and said, “I don’t think his wife will approve,” pointing to the man on the other side of her.

The girl shook her head in embarrassment.

After a few more minutes of telling us all what a great experience band was going to be, the director dismissed us, and told the students to be at the band room in an hour.

After one very quick hour, we stood at the door of the band room. I gave the girl a hug, and thought to myself, “Don’t cry. If you cry, she’ll cry, and that will embarrass her.”

“Well, I guess it’s time for me to go,” I said.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

I could see that she was fighting back a tear or two. “We’ll see you at Thanksgiving,” I said. “I mean, we’ll talk to you before that, but we’ll see you at Thanksgiving.”

One of the upperclassmen from the band was holding the door. “She’ll be fine,” he said with a smile.

I sized him up. She is at least a couple inches taller, and probably has ten pounds on him, so he was not a threat. Still, I would rather have had one of the girls from the band tell me she will be fine.

A number of responses ran through my head. “If not, I’ll hunt you down,” or, “Tell all your friends her dad is Batman,” sounded a little over the top. I settled on, “I’m holding you personally responsible.”

The smiley guy laughed. I guess I fell short of intimidating.

After one more hug, she disappeared into the band room with a “Bye, Daddy.”

“Don’t cry,” I kept telling myself. “She might be able to see you, and then she might cry.”

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 8, Issue 17, Posted 10:59 AM, 09.07.2016