The stuff joins the girl in Oregon

Friday morning found me on the road to Eugene, Oregon with my traveling buddy. The angled blur in the picture is appropriate; I have felt on a blurry tilt since we learned that our car would not be out of the shop in time for our trip north. Fortunately we have a generous friend who lent us his truck. We were, are and always will be grateful to him. Forever and ever, Amen.

The traveling buddy was the DJ and the "poke Mom and keep her between the lines" guy. He did a fine job. Coffee, sugar and Andrew Kern's brilliance in CD numero uno from CiRCE's 2009 conference were excellent additions to the repertoire. Andrew was so compelling in his discussion of the nature of things that Rex asked if we could listen to it again. What's a mother to do but say "YES!"

We got in town and made a phone call, learning that Madelaine was just walking back to the school from her first Latin tutoring job. We looked up the street and could see a lovely California girl waiting at the stoplight. It was just the graceful vision I was longing for. And a hug I had waited impatiently for. (...for which I was longing? for which I had waited impatiently? Sigh. Never mind.)

Job Number One was to unload the truck. When we walked into her room, it couldn't help but cross our minds....where would this stuff go?????? It is a SMALL room, affectionately referred to as a cell by those who love all things monastic. How to explain "small"? Well, if you added another twin bed, the room would be 100% full. Does that help you "see" it? There are, however, three windows on the far wall, overlooking the courtyard and backyard of the college. The fresh air and filtered sunlight of those windows open things up and give a feeling of more space. I love this room. Perriwinkle walls, white trim, clever shelf space and under bed is perfect. And once the bike was stored downstairs, and everything was put away in the drawers and closets, even the beloved harp was at home in room #8.

Gutenberg College is a small Great Books school located in the shadow of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. It gives you all the benefits and lunacy of a university town, even though Gutenberg is so small. We enjoyed walking through the U of O campus to the meditteranean cafe for breakfast, meandering through the very cool cemetery just across the street, and getting in the spirit of game day for the Oregon Fighting Ducks (yes, fighting ducks.) As Madelaine says, after a few days in town, especially when one of those is game day, you start to view the yellow curbs and green grass as statements of school spirit. I made the mistake of wearing the color of the Utes, the dreaded opponent. Not a popular choice in town, but the cafe was still willing to serve us. I am grateful.

One of the freshmen at Gutenberg is a girl whose mother is on an email loop I recently joined. I loved meeting this family and we enjoyed going out for Mexican food together. How could we resist a place that has a sign like the one above? It did not disappoint.

The introductory tea for the incoming freshmen and parents was very informative. We talked all together for a bit, and then the parents went off on their own to talk with the provost about the life of a Gutenberg student. It is an intense community experience because of the size of the school and the nature of the curriculum, and the school does their best to prepare everyone for that. I am looking forward to seeing how it all fits for our particular Gutenberg freshman.

The time passed too quickly since we had to do inconvenient things like sleep. We did manage to watch Cranford on a rainy afternoon, finishing up late at night. It gave us a chance to feel like we were at home, doing normal things, rather than preparing for our Big Goodbye.

Eventually, though, the inevitable happened. We hugged, we cried, we waved as we drove up the hill. And then we stopped waving after we disappeared over the crest, leaving a girl in a white skirt on the sidewalk, poised for all that is to come.

The great joy now is to read the emails coming from Oregon. This is the real reason we teach our students to write that we are comforted when they leave home. *smile* Her vivid descriptions have all of us laughing, sighing, sniffling. Writing well is a way to be a huge blessing to those at home. The key now is for us to be the same blessing to her.

Be well, dear girl. And don't forget to eat! And get enough sleep! And look both ways when you cross the street! And laugh every day!

And know your mother loves you very much.

See you soon!


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