I’m Measuring Our Hope for College by the Number of Boxes at Our Front Door

When there were no packages on my stoop yesterday, I started to worry.

Since we have been staying at home with school closed for over 10 weeks, I have been measuring our level of hope for college to reopen in the fall by the number of boxes that get delivered to our house each day.

It’s sad but true that the amount of cardboard on my property has a direct correlation to our ability to look ahead to the future – and a lack of deliveries adds to my perseverating about what should have been an amazing last few months of school for my daughter, who is a high school senior. I can get through this, and so will she, but boxes with smiles on them sure do help.

My vice right now is online dorm shopping with my daughter. (Twenty20 @MargJohnsonVA)

We are very lucky but we need hope for the future

We are very fortunate to have our health, jobs, and food on the table which I know is much more than many other people have – but let me tell ya’, hope for a semi-normal future is also an essential resource that is in low supply some days. The little white trucks that pull up and drop off boxes can be a real pick-me-up when we are flipping the pages of the calendar and are crossing off milestone events that won’t be happening this year.

Graduation rehearsal – nope. Last concert where they recognize the seniors – nope. Clap-out through their elementary school in their caps and gowns – also, nope. As I tried my best to help my daughter develop resilience, and flexibility, and all of those key life skills that go along with dealing with difficult circumstances, I needed a distraction.

For some people their vice is wine, or binge-watching whatever is on Netflix – for me, it’s online dorm shopping, apparently (maybe with a glass of wine, while also watching my favorite show).

My soon-to-be high school graduate has resigned herself to the fact that there will be no senior banquet – but on Monday when Walmart delivered 2 big boxes that hold mint green plastic drawer units for her dorm, it’s at least a small consolation prize. She started to sketch out where she will put them in her dorm – will they fit under her bed or in her closet?

Events were cancelled so we began shopping for things for her dorm room

My daughter received an email that there would be no senior breakfast, but on Tuesday, a brown box from Kohl’s that sat by our front door had her mint green comforter, foam mattress topper and twin XL sheets inside providing a momentary distraction. A bag from CVS that was stuffed in our mailbox on Wednesday held her favorite shampoo and conditioner that she opened and added to her toiletry caddy.

Friday, Amazon came through with a box that had her mattress cover. Etsy delivered a necklace I ordered for her as a graduation gift on Saturday (shhh, it’s a surprise!). My daughter and I talked about fitting everything in the back of my car, and it was exciting to share ideas about the next part of her educational journey.

Stepping outside to see packages on our stoop became a daily event. After using Clorox wipes on the boxes and bringing them inside, a feeling of anticipation filled our home. My daughter would open a package and smile, then text her future roommate to be sure they were still going with a mint green theme (they are!) or chat with her older sister about the best way to arrange her bathroom tote for use in a dorm bathroom. Hearing her talk about going to college in the fall became the highlight of some days – watching her become teary as more and more high school senior events fell of the calendar became heartbreaking.

Today there were no boxes and I got scared

So today, where there were no boxes on the stoop, I felt scared. Not that I thought that anything was stolen, or that some boxes might have been delivered to the wrong address (But did I peek at the neighbor’s driveway just in case? Yup.). If the boxes stop coming, the hopeful fingers-crossed-that-college-will-open feeling might stop, too. That my high school senior might stop smiling. That the mint green dorm decor might not happen. That college might be taking place at my dining room table with Chromebooks plugged in, the way the spring of her senior year has been.

I know that is a real possibility, but I’m not ready to give up hope. If online shopping for dorm essentials is helping get me through this, I’m okay with that. There’s a lot left on her list, which is good – a lamp, a tool box, extension cords, a mirror – that’s at least four more boxes, which means four more days of hope disguised as cardboard.

So, I ordered her a mint green Keurig, and can’t wait for it to come…in a box, that will be delivered to my stoop.

I need hope. I hope she needs coffee.

More to Read:

10 Things All College Freshmen Need to Bring to College

25 Bestselling Dorm Essentials for 2020 Dorms

Randee Bonagura

Randee Bonagura has two daughters and is an elementary school administrator on Long Island. She stewards a Little Free Library, plays clarinet in a local ensemble, and adopts way too many rescue kittens in her spare time.

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