Last week, my wife and I ventured north to the Emerald City for a college orientation at the University of Washington, UDUB. It brought back vivid memories, of a long time ago, when my parents and I stepped foot on the hallowed grounds of Syracuse University.
Oh wait, no it didn't.
You see my parents never did any of the mishegas I find myself doing on behalf of my daughter's higher education.
An hour and half long seminar on the University's health resources and facilities, sign me up.
A 45 minute tutorial on dorm room organization, save me a seat.
A 5-mile walking tour of the enormous campus including a detailed explanation of the university's extensive recycling program and a thorough explanation of the difference between Composting material and Organic Waste, that's a memory-maker.
Al & Isabel Siegel would have none of that nonsense.
Here's the way it all went down for me. When I was 12 we took a family road trip to Hamilton in Canada to visit my mom's sister and her family. On the way up Route 81, my father spotted the unmistakable buildings of Syracuse University.
We pulled off the highway, rolled up East Adams Street, followed by a slow cruise down Comstock Ave. and looped back to Route 81. The "tour" lasted all of 5 minutes. No sooner did we turn onto the NY State Thruway did my father turn around and pronounce...
"That's where you're going to college."
No inordinately expensive application counselors.
No SAT tutors.
No exploration of any other choices.
Nor was any of that necessary.
It was Syracuse University.
And if the check cleared, my father reasoned, they'd accept my boy.
Because UDUB is on the quarter system, school doesn't start for another 3 weeks. And I'll be returning for another trip. This time to drop her off and move all her belongings into her room. She's in a crappy dorm but she's on the 8th floor and it has a hotel-like view of Union Bay.
I'm sure it will be a gut wrenching, 3 Kleenex box affair. Which again differs from that day 26 years ago when my parents shlepped me and my crap up to Sadler Hall on a cold Saturday in late September.
We drove for 4 & 1/2 hours.
My parents smoked their way through three packs of cigarettes, interrupted only by some fevered fighting. We dragged the boxes into the building because Al wasn't about to dole out 8 bucks to rent a hand truck.
We met my roommate and his parents from a very wealthy area of Long Island. My father, from the mean streets of the Bronx, assumed they were mobbed up and whispered to me, "don't accept any favors from him."
And that was it.
Dad shook my hand. Mom cried a little. They bought some more cigarettes and got back in the car for the 4 & 1/2 hour drive back.
And then, it started snowing.