life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, November 3, 2008

bittersweet weekend

So it was Parents’ Weekend at URI….Lord knows why they chose to have parents’ weekend on Halloween, but who am I do question why? So the kidlet says she’s “going to a Halloween party Friday night, came you please come up Saturday morning?”

So the ex shows up at 7 AM Saturday. Drew and I have a pretty good relationship these days…we’re remembering what we liked each other before we hated each other – after 14 years of battling it out, the war is finally over. It’s just the two of us, Becca has opted to stay home. We load up with van with such staples as Arizona iced tea and Orville Reddenbacher, as well as Jen’s winter coat and a few things she left home the last time she was here. Drew was all set to just hop onto the expressway after that, but I can’t function without my carbs and caffeine, so we made a brief stop at the local bagel place.

Got up to Kingston around 10:30-ish, and on the drive from I-95 to the school we saw lots of farm country – including real live cows and sheep!

Got to the school and (will wonders ever cease?) actually found a place to park at Jen’s dorm. Called her – she was barely awake – then headed up to her dorm room. Now, the vision I had in my head…Jen and her two room mates moved into the dorm Labor Day weekend, the parents helped the kids move into that room. Three girls in a dorm room meant for two girls, a tight fit. The room looked gorgeous.

It won’t look gorgeous again until the day they all move out.

I won’t go so far as to say it was a disaster, but that room will never grace the pages of House Beautiful.

And the kidlet is sitting there, bleary-eyed, in pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Don’t you know how late those frat parties go?

So we took a walk over to the student union and let the kidlet pull herself together.

Then we headed over to the stadium to watch the slaughter….uh, football game. URI vs. U Mass. URI’s colors are blue and white, and the mascot is Rhody the Ram. Jen says he “scares her” – and in truth the Ram costume is a bit creepy. U Mass -- the “Minutemen” -- their colors are maroon and white, and their mascot wears Colonial garb and a tricorn hat. Jen says she “cries a little” each time she sees the URI cheerleaders, but the truth is I think she’s gotten over not making the team.

Jen points out three guys in Colonial costumes standing next to a cannon. At first I think they’re part of the U Mass entourage, but she says no, they’re part of the URI crew, they shoot off the cannon every time the Rams score a touchdown. Drew is a Social Studies teach and an American History buff, and he collects model cannons, so he’s anxious for the Rams to score.

And sadly disappointed. When we left in the 3rd quarter, the score was something like 45-0 …I found out later that the final score was 49-0. No cannon fire that day! Jen says the team “sucks…but we beat Brown, because they suck even more than we do.”

But we did get a chance to sit in the sun for a couple of hours (it was so warm we didn’t need jackets), we ate lunch in the stands (I had sausage and peppers and Drew had a burger, and Jen ate popcorn and potato chips.), and Jen’s friend Mike C. told her that the basketball team is phenomenal and she’ll love going to the basketball games.

So we left the game early and walked Jen back to the dorm, and then Drew asked Jen to give him a tour of the campus, since he didn’t come with us when she and I came up to school for orientation, and he didn’t get much of a tour when we moved her into the dorm. I didn’t feel like doing the walking tour – it was hard enough to walk up the hill from the football field to the dorm – so I decided to stay behind and sit in Drew’s car. They were gone about 30 seconds, and came back because Jen realized some idiot at the game spilled ketchup on her jeans and boots. The tour resumed after she changed her clothes.

So Drew and I drove up to Coventry (about 20-30 minutes north of the campus, straight up I-95) to check into our hotel. What can I say about the Hamptons Inn? The Grand Floridian it is NOT. But for $245, we got two clean, comfortable rooms, and what more can you ask for? My room came equipped with two queen beds, a desk and chair, internet access (too bad I didn’t have the laptop with me), a refrigerator, a coffeemaker (brews one cup at a time) and a hairdryer, and a lovely view of Cracker Barrel and Applebees. Drew’s room was identical to mine, except for some reason he had a microwave in his room, but his view was of an old warehouse. The hotel has a fitness center, an indoor pool and a business center, but we didn’t use any of the amenities.

Took a short nap, and then it was time to get back in the car and go back to the campus to get Jen and head out to dinner. And with all the fine restaurants in South County, she picks…Applebees. Not the one in Coventry, thank goodness, there’s one in Kingston, about 5 miles from the school. We weren’t alone, the waitress told us that the place had been mobbed all afternoon with URI students and their families. Whatever. She had the chicken fingers, and Drew and I each had a steak.

The basketball arena at URI is called “the Ryan Center”, and it plays host to a variety of entertainment. The headliner on Saturday was none other than….Jay Leno. I love Jay. I watch “the tonight Show” almost every night. He did 125 minutes of monologue …and I actually heard Jen laughing at his jokes, I didn’t know if she’d really like him.

We were all kind of tired after the show, so we took Jen back to her dorm, then Drew and I went back to the hotel. Got there in time to watch the evening news and then see McCain acting in an SNL skit with Tina Fey (I love Tina Fey, I think she’s brilliant).

Sunday morning. Daylight Savings time ended, so we got an extra hour of sleep. I got up around 7:30 – it felt like 8:30 – and went down to the lobby to get coffee and a muffin. There wasn’t much on the free breakfast bar – the breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick is better – but we planned to go out to brunch, so it didn’t really matter much.
Picked up Jen around 11-ish. A woman at the information booth in the student union gave me the name of a local restaurant for brunch, Phil's Restaurant in Wakefield (they have a second location in Narragansett). (Jen loves to say the word “Narragansett”).However, she gave me very bad directions, and I had to use the GPS in my phone to find the place. The place is quaint and old-fashioned, and very crowded – for good reason. It was after noon by the time we were seated, so Jen opted for a grilled cheese sandwich and fries, while Drew and I each ordered pancakes. Yummy!

After brunch she said she needed a few things in CVS…I asked if there was anywhere else she wanted to shop, and she said no. So we took her back to the dorm and said goodbye.

I don’t know if it was easier, or more difficult, to leave her this time. When we left her in September, I cried, because my baby was leaving home – little did I realize how often she’d be back to visit.

This time…well, she’s grown up so much in just a few short months. She’s built a life for herself at school, she’s involved with classes, friends, volunteer work. We talked about her classes, her program for next semester, her plans for the summer. We talked about roommates and boyfriends and frat parties and the crazy things people do. We talked, quite literally, about life and death. In one breath she can move from calm, rational adult to crazy, “dumb college kid”. and watching the transformation brings up a whole host of fears, and the realization that she’ll be 18 in a few short days and must now stand on her own, as an adult, in so many ways.

So the weekend was bittersweet, with “Sunrise, Sunset” lyrics running through my head…and someone else’s tragedy superimposed on the experience. Jen has a friend from high school, a girl named Kim, whose mother died of a heart attack Thursday night. So Jen spent a good deal of time on Saturday talking and texting with Crystal and Mike C. and several other friends of Kim, to get the details of the wake and funeral. The wake is Friday night, the funeral is (I think) on Saturday. Which poses a major dilemma for Jen – her 18th birthday is Friday, she had big plans to celebrate at school, she even arranged for her boyfriend to come up for a visit. She didn’t want to change those plans, but she wanted so much to come home and “be there” for Kim. Mike C. is probably driving home Thursday night, and I suspect Jen will come home with him, and do her birthday celebrating after the wake. Sigh….

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