On the drive from Columbus to Oxford, the morning sun peeked through the trees along Route 127. I looked over to my mom in the driver’s seat. This was not a typical first day of school. Yes, my parents would be dropping me off, but at the end of the day they would not be there to take me home.

“You know, I don’t know what I’ll do without you this year,” I said.

“You’ll be ok,” she said. “Remember, I’m only a call away.”

There had been months of touring schools and filling out applications. There had been heartbreak over denials and financial-aid offers that came up short and celebration over the letters that read,

“Congratulations, you’re in!”

Now, it was move-in day.

At 10:30 am, we arrived at Havighurst Hall and began unpacking my belongings. When everything was unpacked — my sweatshirts placed in drawers, my Keurig plugged into the outlet and my poster of The Beatles mounted on the wall — I started making up things to do to delay my parents’ departure.

My mom caught on and played along.

Finally, at 1:00 pm, we decided there was nothing left to do and agreed it was time for lunch. My dad drove us to Uptown Oxford. We sat at Kona Bistro, ate fish tacos and told stories about my childhood.

After lunch we walked around campus so I could get my bearings. My mom and I kept making up things we needed to see. Finally, at 2:30 my dad said, “Alright, it’s time to get rolling or we’re going to hit rush hour traffic.”

He pulled the car up to Havighurst Hall for the second time and we all got out. My dad shook my hand and wished me good luck. Then I looked over at my mom. Her face was reddening as she struggled to hold back tears. I reached over and gave her a big hug.

As I watched them drive away I wanted to scream, “What are you doing? Come back!”

I thought about running after them and getting in the car to return home. Instead, I turned my back on the car and walked into Havighurst.