And One Last Story

First of all, would you believe that on the very same day that I wrote the last post in which I basically implied that my daughter was not D-I material, she got her first recruitment letter from a D-I coach? Which, even if you’re not interested in that particular college and program, is still a lovely compliment to receive.

With all of that talk about college visits, I remembered one particular story from our adventures that feels like a classic Capital District Fun post, even though it didn’t occur in the Capital District and it wasn’t actually any fun.

Okay: we were heading toward Boston for an overnight whirlwind tour of four different colleges, and our first stop was Williams College. It was a super-rainy day, stressful driving, and I had a carefully pre-planned itinerary, because as you know I can get lost trying to make my way out of a paper bag, and missing our first appointment (a 9 am college tour) would begin a domino effect that could potentially ruin our day. So we left well ahead of time and ended up driving up to the admissions parking lot well before we were due to arrive. Maybe it was 45 or 50 minutes early? And at this point it was only drizzling. So we made the fateful decision to go to a coffee shop that was only about a 3 minute drive away to fortify ourselves.

I regret this choice, now.

It was a cute place, just exactly the kind of spot where you think, “Oh, I could live around here!” and we enjoyed some kind of yummy food and M ordered a hot cocoa that was very hot. Soon enough we decided that we should go, because we needed to be at the admissions office in 10 or 12 minutes, and even though we were 3 minutes away, we wanted to play it safe. But we were also so relaxed that when M asked, “Can I drive?” I hesitated only a moment or two before I said yes. Sure, it was likely to transform our 3-minute drive into a 5-minute drive, but we still had time to spare.

Then we headed to the parking lot, and, as luck would have it, it had started pouring. Pour-ing. Old-Man-Is-Snoring-style pouring. That was awesome. We ran like crazy. M had saved her cocoa, still mostly too hot to drink, and I was holding it so that she could focus on staying as dry as possible. Did we have an umbrella? No, we didn’t have an umbrella. I know, you’re right: it had been raining all morning. What are you asking, here? Shut up about it already, will you please?!?   

As I threw myself into the car, I managed to drop the hot cocoa into my lap, and it landed upside down, and the lid came off. It was really quite hot. Also chocolatey-brown and sticky-sweet. All the things you’d want in a hot cocoa, if you were drinking it instead of tossing it into your groin area.

I feel like, at this point, you should imagine a game show stopwatch in the top right corner of this scene, because we must keep in mind that the clock to our appointment was ticking. We went into immediate disaster mode. The skirt I was wearing was no longer acceptable, but luckily we had packed an overnight bag, so I stood in the rain, rummaging in our trunk until I was able to produce a change of clothes for me and a random towel for M. Then I changed while she mopped up the fabric car seat as best she could. Did she still want to drive? Yes she did.

It was only after exiting the parking lot that we realized that a construction project would make our drive back more complicated than the original 3-minute drive to the coffee shop had been. Also, it meant that we needed to think harder about navigation, which is tough when you are entirely discombobulated, the driving rain has reduced visibility, and you are a driver who is new to driving and a navigator who is reliably hopeless at navigating. For example, I carefully studied the GPS and the street signs and triumphantly advised M to “Turn left now!” But this advice was poor. I should have said, “Turn left at this street, but instead of turning immediately, you should wait until it’s actually safe to make a left turn because at this exact moment there is oncoming traffic.” Lucky for us, we were blessed by drivers who managed to avoid us. However, at this point we were both well and truly frazzled, and I had become tentative about offering quick and forceful navigating directions, so when we got to point where we should have turned into the admissions parking lot, I hesitated, M didn’t slow down, and we managed to miss the turn.

And really, what is it about driving around a campus? It’s horrible. There are all sorts of one-way-only spots, or things that seem to be streets but are actually just driveways that dead end into dumpsters and service entrances. We were well and truly screwed. At a certain point M was like, “I don’t want to be driving anymore!” and I was like, “I don’t want you to be driving anymore, either!” and since we were on some sort of untraveled one-way driveway to nowhere, we stopped immediately and participated in the most joyless Chinese fire drill I’ve ever experienced. Is that cultural appropriation these days? Whatever. I never want to do it again, anyway. I raced in loops around the campus while dripping all over the steering wheel, and we finally made it about 2 or 3 minutes late. We were offered wholly inadequate rain ponchos and told to chase down a tour group that was already two buildings away.

Unfair though it may be, it’s possible that this experience and the continued downpour colored our experience of that particular campus.

And no, I do not have any photos to commemorate this occasion.

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