Cleopatra is now a college student. This may not be official until Tuesday when she registers for classes, or Wednesday when she hopefully will attend one. But for Brunhilda and I, it was official on Sunday when we drove 250 miles and pulled up in front of her dormitory. While Cleopatra and Brunhilda were hugging each other good-bye and shedding some tears, I was in a near panic to pull out of the driveway in case Cleopatra would change her mind and Brunhilda in a moment of weakness for her first born.
“Hurry up we have to get on the road. We got a long way to go tonight, hurry. It’s not good for the car to idle long, Hurry! Bathsheba and Chipper may be getting in trouble back home, I think we need gas, hurry. It looks like rain. (Wasn’t a cloud in the sky.) Cleopatra better get a move on so she can get the choice of beds. If we don’t go, Cleopatra will not get her packs unpacked. I think I feel a heart attack coming on from breathing all these fumes from the car. . . . .”
But, to be fair, I had a certain admiration for this young lady that I did not have before. The reason for this new admiration I now heap on her is because I have seen her do the near impossible. If you think that Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants was tough, or still believe that Magellan’s exploration in a wooden ship was a minor miracle, let me tell you that is nothing! It happened in my own home last week when Cleopatra cleaned out her room in preparation for her move to college life.
I still go up there in the evening and just sit in a chair in the middle of the room awe and wonder. Sometimes I have to choke back tears when I see the near impossible being done. I sit there for hours and look at things that I have not seen in that room for years. Things like the carpeting and the walls. It was so nice to see that they were still there before they disappeared under several layers of wet towels, dirty laundry, papers, pocket change, candy and gum wrappers, leftover potato chips and Doritos, nail polish bottles, assorted shoes and galoshes, an occasional book and other various and sundry items including roughly one half of the dishes and silverware. What used to look to like a tornado ripping through a community rummage sale now actually looked clean and empty. It was an amazing feat.
I will admit that these things did not just disappear. Out in the alley near our other garbage cans are enough of Cleopatra’s cast-offs to drive the waste removal men right down to city hall demanding a raise. Back up trucks would be needed, and I expect a hefty raise in the garbage rates.
What did not get thrown out is even more staggering. A great deal of it was put in boxes and carted off to a corner of the attic where the house has begun to settle from the sheer concentration of Cleopatra’s treasures. The rest (and I assure you it was a lot), was loaded and taken along with her to college.
Allow me some personal testimony here. There were three of us making the trip. Cleopatra obviously went because she is the one going off to school. Her mother, Brunhilda, was along because she is the mother and needs to boss us around. I, however, was the most important member on this mission. I was to try to keep this overloaded vehicle between the ditches and make certain that Cleopatra did not make the trip home again.
If any of you met or passed us on the highway, you could never forget it in a lifetime. Do remember the opening scene from the old TV program, The Beverley Hillbillies? Where they are driving down the streets of Beverly Hills in the old model ‘T’ loaded with everything that they owned? Well, they didn’t have a thing on us! If you were traveling on Interstate 94 and saw a van with the driver pushed way towards the front with his facial feature mashed against the windshield, his chest against the steering wheel and breathing through a tube hanging out the window, that was me. Cleopatra was somewhere towards the back spread-eagled over a bunch of boxes and I am not sure where Brunhilda was, but her groan a couple of times from under one of the piles.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. After seeing how Cleopatra packs for a simple weekend, I considered her having only one vehicle full of belonging to be somewhere between a gesture of moderation and act of pure mercy. I always figured that it would take several different kinds of lightning to strike her just get her to limit to one van.
Anyway, Cleopatra is now living in a dormitory over 250 miles from us where she and another teenage girl just moved in all her belongings into that single room. Meanwhile, back home, Bathsheba slowly begins to accumulate thing in a very familiar pattern. Slowly. But with the same, sure patterns, the floors and walls are beginning to disappear.