I spent last weekend visiting my college sophomore. She is a varsity cross country runner and recently had incurred a relatively serious, potentially season ending, foot injury. I decided a trip to check on her mental health was in order. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see her smiling and laughing with friends while heading back from class hobbling on crutches. It was a Friday, so I offered to entertain myself, anticipating that she had evening plans. She immediately protested explaining that her friends were looking forward to meeting me and had planned for us to all hang out that night. I was given a tour of the town, treated to dinner at one of her favorite local restaurants and entertained with stories from her cohort, who from one minute to the next would be giggling schoolgirls then thoughtful young adults. They were very forthcoming about the dating and drinking culture at the school and how they had developed a system of looking out for each other at parties.
I was impressed to see how they were navigating this new world of independence.
The next day I got to see her with the team. Although she was unable to run, she was still very much a part of the group. The coach and other members were caring and supportive. She continued to travel to races and cross-trained or assisted at every practice. Later, over a mediocre cafeteria lunch, she shared her thoughts on the food (it was fine with her since she only eats hamburgers and salads regardless of the choices); her classes (challenging but with very approachable instructors); and the weather (so different from home it’s fun, like studying abroad). After lunch she said she had to head to the doctor, an appointment she made herself, about her foot. On the last full day of my visit, we took a trip to the city, only a short train ride from her school. We talked for hours about her friends, her professors, things she learned in, and out, of class. Sitting across from her on the train back, it hit me; this was her home now. Not that she didn’t enjoy coming back to see us for breaks, but this place was where she was starting to find, and become, herself.
After our very long, but lovely day, we got back to her dorm, and I headed to the showers. When I took too long to return to her room, she came down the hall to find me. I explained that I was trapped in the fabulous, relaxing, waterfall; to which she responded, “Don’t you just love the water pressure here. It’s like that in all the dorm buildings. I really missed it when I was home.” I stood in the soothing warmth of the shower thinking about the weekend, immersed in the daily life of this independent young woman. Reassured that she was in the perfect place, I answered, “Yes, I really do. It may be my favorite thing about your school.”
While visiting colleges with your junior or senior this fall, try to check out the water pressure.
– By Sonja –