August 31st Peter and I drove Ellie up to Smith. Ellie did a remarkable job packing herself and preparing for her new life at college. Over the summer we worked to clean out her room. She gathered lists of items which should be brought to college life in the dorm. She even did some planning for her decor shopping online for items which would make her room feel comfortable and look pretty.
We arrived at Smith and checked in at the amazing gym facility which they have. It made a great place to hold check in. There were stations for registering, picking up ids, getting campus maps and everything was quite well organized. Next we headed up to Comstock. Comstock is one of two houses which form the Little Quad. The good thing about being an alum is that I knew exactly where to go. Ironically, Ellie and I stayed in Comstock when I went to my 25th Reunion. We shared a single room overlooking Paradise Pond. Who knew that someday she would be living in that house? Or that my diabolical plot to somehow get her to want to be a Smithie would actually succeed?
A bevy of boisterous, happy Smithies met us at the entrance to Comstock. They gave us instructions, greetings and lent a hand carrying Ellie’s possessions up to her room. Ellie’s room is in the Maid’s Quarters, first window on the left. It is one of few doubles. It isn’t huge, but it seems very comfortable and there are two large walk in closets–so lots of storage. Ellie had skyped with her room mate, Bayla, and knew she was already in residence having arrived early to try out for the tennis team. Their meeting was enthusiastic and friendly. Ellie’s apprehension about her room mate faded quickly as they immediately began planning their room and exchanging information.
Peter was an invaluable help getting Ellie settled. He carried the refrigerator up to the room singlehandedly, helped me hoist the bookcase up on Ellie’s desk to open up floorspace and was gracious and engaged in the whole process. Once Ellie was fairly settled, Peter and I headed to our hotel and dinner. Ellie was meeting a group of first year students for dinner and ice cream at Harrell’s and had informed us we were no longer needed.
Peter and I were seated in the Noodle Shop when my phone rang and a tearful Ellie sobbed that she had missed hooking up with the dinner group and would never make friends at Smith. There were lots of other dire prognostications having to do with her utter failure and end of life. I suggested she come join us and she could catch everyone later for ice cream. We had dinner and dropped Ellie back at Comstock still gloomy and nervous. Peter asked her to get his sunglasses which he had left in her room and she headed up. When she returned she was laughing and introduced us to Caroline, her next door neighbor. The sun was shining again and she barely waved goodbye. It was a much better ending to the evening.
We met Ellie for breakfast in the morning and she was excited and told us we could stay to eat lunch at Smith but she was busy and wouldn’t be able to spend any more time with us. She had a group of women to meet for lunch at Cushing and lots of other things to do.
Peter and I headed out of Northampton after breakfast. Our work was done. There have been and will be many more upsets and tearful calls, but they are fewer and fewer and mostly Ellie is just very happy and excited. She has a favorite place to study in Neilsen Library which is right where my carrel was in the library some thirty years ago. She has lots of friends, seems to like her classes a lot and has gone on record that she is really glad to be at Smith where she can focus on her work during the week and go to parties at Amherst and UMass on the weekends.
For me, having Ellie at Smith is a fitting continuum. My girl hasn’t left me. She is in a place that I know and love. Her evening seminar is in a classroom in Seelye that I had classes in. She is walking the paths I walked. When she calls sitting on the hill by Paradise Pond, I know exactly where she is. Smith meant so much to me and gave me so much and I am thrilled that Smith is my legacy to Ellie and Ellie is my legacy to Smith. It is a deeply satisfying.