Somewhere but not here...
Out-Numbered - I think this is your room.
Daughter - 238 right?
Out-Numbered - That's what the paper says.
Daughter - Where's the key?
Out-Numbered - I thought you took it.
Daughter - No Dad, you were supposed to take it.
Out-Numbered - I'll call your Mother. Maybe she has it.
Daughter - Dad! I can't believe you.
Out-Numbered - I'm just kidding baby. I have it right here.
Daughter - Dad. You're so annoying.
Out-Numbered - Here. Open the door already. This duffel bag weighs a ton.
Daughter - One minute.
Out-Numbered - Jeez. How many hair dryers do you have in here?
Daughter - Stop it.
She opens the door. The room is empty except for two single beds on either side, a small three draw dresser at the foot of each bed and a large open closet that goes from floor to ceiling. It smells like 1988. I see my daughter's face and she seems a bit tentative.
Out-Numbered - What?
Daughter - Nothing.
Out-Numbered - What's wrong?
Daughter - Nothing.
Out-Numbered - I know that look. It means you're thinking one of two things.
Daughter - Oh yea? What would those be?
Out-Numbered - You're either thinking, "how the hell am I gonna fit all of my clothes in that tiny dresser... OR... "Where is the bathroom?"
Silence. I see her eyes well up with tears. She tries to look away.
Out-Numbered - Baby, what's the matter?
She starts to cry. I put my arms around her.
Out-Numbered - It's OK pal. It's OK.
Daughter - I don't think I want to be here.
Out-Numbered - Don't be silly baby. You've been looking forward to this forever. Why the sudden change of heart?
Daughter - I don't know. The room is so small. There's no bathroom in here. I don't know where I'm gonna put all my clothes.
Out-Numbered - HA! I knew it.
Daughter - Dad, stop it. I'm serious.
We both sit down on the bed on the right side of the room.
Out-Numbered - It's not that bad sweetheart. Look at the bright side.
Daughter - What?
Out-Numbered - You just got to pick which bed you want.
Daughter - Great. Like it makes a difference.
Out-Numbered - I'm teasing. You still can't take a joke.
Daughter - I'm serious.
Out-Numbered - Can I tell you something?
Daughter - Not if you're going to be stupid.
Out-Numbered - Give me some credit over here.
Daughter - Fine.
Out-Numbered - I know you think I'm like 1,000 years old and I embarrass you in front of your friends but it wasn't that long ago that my parents dropped me off at college.
Daughter - That was like 50 years ago.
Out-Numbered - 32. It was 32 years ago, smart ass.
Daughter - I'm just kidding Dad. You still can't take a joke.
Out-Numbered - Good one.
I hand her a tissue from my front pocket. I had been saving it for myself.
Out-Numbered - What I was going to say is... I know it's not really the size of the room or the bathroom. It's OK to feel scared. You're starting over. You're away from home for the first time. I felt the same way and I remember it didn't hit me until I walked into my dorm room. It wasn't real until my parents walked out the door.
Daughter - It's different for a girl.
Out-Numbered - Maybe a little bit but trust me when I say, I know what you're feeling. Do you remember when you were just a little girl? I used to say to you, "You don't have to tell me everything but you can tell me anything."
Daughter - Yes. You would tell me that like every day.
Out-Numbered - Well I'm gonna tell you something right now. I didn't want to say it because I didn't want to start crying like a baby, in front of my baby.
Daughter - Please don't start crying.
Out-Numbered - I'll try my hardest. I promise. I'm scared too.
Daughter - What do you mean?
Out-Numbered - I'm terrified.
Daughter - Why?
Out-Numbered - I'm terrified because I don't want to walk out that door and leave you here. I'm terrified because I haven't been without you for more than a week at a time. I'm terrified because I know you're terrified that I'm terrified.
Daughter - Dad that was like five terrifieds. I think it's a world's record.
Out-Numbered - Hey, now I'm trying to be serious here.
Daughter - Sorry.
Out-Numbered - All I'm trying to say is that it's normal to feel scared about this. You're doing something for the first time. You're not a little kid any more and that's just crazy to me. I'm so proud of you for choosing this school. I'm just blown away by the woman you've become and I know that you'll do more than just fine because you're so much better than me at this stuff and if I was able to do it 50 years ago, than you my dear, are going rock this thing.
Daughter - I guess so.
Out-Numbered - This isn't a guessing game baby. I know so.
Daughter - Thanks Dad.
Out-Numbered - I love you baby. You're gonna love college. Best time of your life. Soak it up. Embrace the day. Carpe Diem!
Daughter - What the hell does that mean?
Out-Numbered - Carpe Diem means Seize the day. Robin Williams made it up.
Daughter - Who is she?
Out-Numbered - She? C'mon. Mork from Ork?
Out-Numbered - Forget it.
Daughter - Where's Mom?
Out-Numbered - Who knows? She went to the school store to get your sister a sweatshirt or something.
Daughter - I feel bad for her.
Out-Numbered - Your sister? Why is that?
Daughter - Because she has to deal with you all by herself now.
Out-Numbered - You know you'll miss me.
Daughter - Maybe a little.
Out-Numbered - You know what else you're gonna miss?
Daughter - Your bald head and your lame jokes?
Out-Numbered - No, dummy.
Daughter - What?
Out-Numbered - T-H-E ....... TICKLE MONSTER!!!!!!
I tickle her like I did when she was a kid. She still has the same laugh. I close my eyes and pretend we're on the den floor. She's 8 years old again.
Daughter - DAAAAADDDDDD!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! STOP!!!! STOP IT!!!!
Sometimes when I'm tired at the end of the day, I daydream on the train ride home.
My baby girl is turning 8 this summer. I want to freeze her and make the time stop. I want to keep her just like she is now.
Naive to the atrocities of the world that exist outside of our suburban bubble.
She's gonna leave one day and I can't stop her. I have to live in the moment. In the second.
Cryogenics is not the most practical of solutions.
Sometimes the daydreams are vivid, like a Neil Simon play yet to be written. I always cry at Neil Simon plays.
Why do I always have tissues in my daydreams but never when I'm on the train?