02 September 2011

Moments in Time

There surely are never enough hours in a day, days in a week nor weeks in a summer.  Time passes quickly - sometimes too quickly - and memories are usually what sustains us.  Fifteen years ago this weekend, at the age of 18, we packed up a UHaul trailer, hitched it to my dad's Ford Explorer and drove it to Ottawa where I became a Raven.  A Carleton University Raven that is! Actually first I was a Flamingo which was my residence floor's mascot for Frosh Week - C U in the Tropics! Then I was a Raven.  Now although it is close to a lifetime ago, I still remember some moments perfectly. 

A very good friend of mine sends her son off to University this week and I know it's hard for her so it's gotten me thinking of that first step in my adventure so many years ago now.   We arrived in Ottawa and headed over to Bob & Claudia's for the first night and then over to residence in the morning to pick up my room assignment, laundry bag, student card etc.  Luckily I was the first one in the room so I chose the bed & desk closest to the window - Erin my (not so friendly) roommate arrived soon after.  I was on a co-ed floor so quickly made friends with Ryan and Rollie across the hall. Mom & Claudia scoured the room clean, we unpacked and got settled.  We went back to Bob & Claudia's for dinner and then my parents dropped me off at the dorm to sleep.  At which time, little miss independent, got in her single bed, covered her head with a pillow and cried.  I remember thinking "what the fuck am I doing so far from home?" but as always I allowed myself to be scared and then remembered all the reasons I wanted to be here.  Luckily I also had a second parental unit in Bob & Claudia here in Ottawa with me so by morning I was good to go.  I remember my parents saying good bye and all of us trying not to cry - I don't think my mom did a very good job! I remember my dad slipping me a $50 - which at the time felt like I was rich! I walked back up to 3rd Grenville, put on my Flamingo Tee Shirt and without looking back, proceeded to enjoy Frosh Week Festivities with a vengeance and later, a hangover.  

If one day I am blessed with children, I will make them go away to University and like my parents, I will make them pay for it because when you know how much each class cost you, you are less likely to skip it.  Being in residence and living away from home was such an amazing experience - there are things you learn about yourself, your family, your friends that you just don't learn staying at home.  You learn how the nutritional value of poutine (best in our nation's capital), how to balance laundry, exams and buying your own toilet paper.  You learn the subtle display of love from your mother and your friends who send you care packages in the mail and deposit $20 in your bank account.  You learn to appreciate your sister because distance really does make the heart grow fonder.  You get yourself up and to class, to meals and commit yourself to the study room rather than the tv lounge.  I learned that going to a uniformed high school made you completely incapable of dressing yourself in the morning - it was much easier to put on a kilt, dress shirt and knee socks.  Home sometimes seems so far away but being with people who feel the exact same way, cry the same tears and long for something familiar makes it bearable, even enjoyable.  

I was lucky - I had 4 things that no one else had which gave me strength every time I wanted to pack it in and go home. They were Bob, Claudia, Iain & Vanessa.  Every Sunday (pretty much) I got to be in a home that felt like my home, with people who felt like my parents, brother & sister.  We cooked, we laughed, we watched Sunday tv shows while doing my (and usually some of Rollie & Ryan's) laundry and then back to the dorms.   I will be forever thankful for the moments I got to share with them and for the moments laying under the Christmas tree, drinking Vernors and thinking of home.  I'm sure I would have made it through University without them but I'm glad I didn't have to.  My heart is fuller for the moments we shared.  

Dearest Angie, I wish you a few good cleansing tears this weekend, lots of hugs and the knowledge that you raised a wonderful son.  He likely will get in less trouble than I did and look how good I turned out! :) You have given him all the tools that he needs to succeed and as hard as it will be to watch him leave the nest, with you as his mother he will undoubtedly soar.  xo

Lastly I must regale you with the Carleton University fight song - directed against our fiercest competitor, Ottawa University....

There's a hole in this city, and it's name is Ottawa U
If you're tall & boring, than it's the place for you 
And if you're into concrete & ugly buildings too, 
Then welcome to Ottawa, U
2.3.4
Fuck you Ottawa U, Fuck You Ottawa U 
En francais, it's Fuck-eh-vous 
So Fuck you Ottawa U! 

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