Eight years ago next month, Tom, Carey, and I loaded up Tom’s truck, my car, and Carey’s car with suitcases full of clothes; Rubbermaid containers full of bedding, power cords, school supplies, and toiletries; a computer; a stereo; a small refrigerator; and Carey’s bike before heading out to Lawrence to get her settled in the dorms for her freshman year at the University of Kansas. Like any other parent  moving his or her oldest off to college for the first time, I oscillated between feelings of elation and sadness. I was happy for Carey to be starting off on new adventures but sad because it felt very much like we were writing the first page of the last chapter of our lives with the kids as “kids.”

I distinctly remember noticing the Lawrence City Limit sign as we got to the edge of town that hot, muggy August afternoon and taking solace in the thought that we’d be making the trek to Lawrence for a long time to come. The way I figured it, Carey would be out there for at least four years and then Brian would be for at least another three or four after that. Geez. That would be nearly a decade by the time all was said and done. What was I being all gloomy about? It was going to be a long time before we would finish the chapter.

A long time, indeed. Last night, we wrote the final sentence when we moved the last load of Brian’s mountainous pile of stuff (I’m fighting the urge to use the word “crap” here) back home to Kansas City. I won’t lie. I did tear up a bit as we drove out of town. I reminisced about that hot August day eight years before and thought about all the fun times we’d had in Lawrence with both kids. Then I remembered what awaited me at home.

For the last three years, Brian has lived in a two-bedroom house with a two-car garage. During that time, he has amassed…well, he has amassed quite a collection of household goods, including–but not limited to–a queen-size bed, a large desk with an oversize desk chair, two TVs, stereo equipment, a washer and dryer, a side-by-side refrigerator, a small dorm-size refrigerator, a kitchen table with four chairs, an assortment of end tables, enough small appliances and kitchen paraphernalia to put any new bride to shame, a huge rolling tool chest, an air compressor, a shop vac, and enough neon signs to open his own bar. He also has lots of toys: a half dozen wakeboards and snowboards with bindings and boots, video games and accessories, boxes of DVDs, and a wakeboard boat. Oh, and then there are his clothes. Brian doesn’t like to do laundry, so he developed the habit of buying new socks, underwear, and t-shirts when the ones he had were too stinky to wear. I’m pretty sure he could go a whole semester without doing laundry. At least, he should be able to; we hauled home six huge plastic bags crammed full of mostly dirty socks, underwear… I tell you all this only because it’s NOW ALL IN OUR GARAGE! Well, not all of it. We did stack the bags of clothes in his bedroom and the boat is at the repair shop for a new part.

Before the weekend is over, Brian should have it all moved to the storage locker he’s rented, so our cars should only have to sit out on the driveway for a few more nights–and, if I’m lucky–I won’t need a shovel, or a hammer, or any of our other tools because there’s not a snowball’s chance that I COULD GET TO ANY OF IT. Okay, deep breath.

Brian called just a little bit ago to let me know he’d completed the check-out process with the leasing agent, and all had gone well. He also admitted to being more than a bit sad about saying good-bye to his home of three years. According to him, his years on 24th Street “were a blast.” In fact, he said, his entire college experience “couldn’t have been any better.” Well, what more could a mom ask for… except maybe to GET THAT CRAP OUTTA THE GARAGE!

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