By Jesse Graves
Many parents my age are currently experiencing empty nest syndrome/euphoria as they send their children off to college in hopes that, someday, their “babies” will graduate and come back home to pick up all of the junk they left crammed under their beds.
For my wife and I, this condition is more like multiple nest disorder – since we still have two kids at home after moving our eldest and most expensive daughter into a lavish four-bedroom college townhome festooned with all of the latest overpriced swag from Urban Outfitters.
The ordeal of moving our daughter into her new “crib” actually started last spring, when she began stockpiling unknown merchandise in massive shipping boxes that were specifically designed to give me a hernia.
Then came moving day, when we packed enough clothing, linens, electronics, decorative string lights, salt lamps, cosmetics, and a few uncomfortable humans into our vehicles to make another bad reboot of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” We were only able to salvage a minimal level of coolness thanks to the chassis of our beleaguered 2013 Ford Expedition sitting so close to the ground that I felt compelled to play the “Lowrider” song on repeat throughout the 3 ½-hour trip.
When we arrived at the townhome, I was actually excited by the prospect of finally using the hand truck that my dad gifted to me out of pity sometime in the early twenty-teens. Thank goodness my daughter’s bedroom is only up one flight of incredibly narrow stairs!
Once we had transported all of the cargo upstairs and I had said a brief prayer requesting a new spinal column, my wife and daughter began organizing clothing while I was tasked with putting stuff together and hanging other stuff on walls.
One of my greatest fears has always been the combination of an Allen wrench and the phrase “some assembly required.” But after only three attempts, I did manage to construct a three-tier shoe rack for storing enough designer footwear to support a full season of “Project Runway.”
I then continued the assault on my lumbar region by attaching a never-ending adhesive strip of LED lights across the top of the bedroom walls. When I was finished and the multi-colored lights began flashing, I expected the Village People to burst through the bathroom door for an encore of “Y.M.C.A.” at any moment.
And speaking of the Village People, my next job was to hang some vinyl record albums on the wall – for decoration. When I suggested that my daughter might actually want to listen to the records sometime, she just patted me on the head Benny Hill-style, and said, “Sure, Dad.”
After the room was finished and my daughter’s Wi-Fi life-support system was fully operational, we all went downstairs, had a good cry, smothered our sorrows with some enormous slices of homemade pound cake, had another good cry, and said our goodbyes.
Although I felt like I left a little chunk of my heart (and a few vertebrae) in that townhouse when we drove away, my daughter does stay in regular contact with us. Along with “Facetiming” us most evenings to report on dates she has taken with our credit cards to concerts, restaurants, and Target, she occasionally calls us to address typical college-student household issues–like trying to convince us that fitted sheets were invented by the Taliban. Oh, and she is trying to carve out a little time for classes and homework.
Now that she’s out of the nest – sort of – I’m just looking forward to the day when she comes back home after graduation to pick up all of that junk she left crammed under her bed.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.