White Coats and Rainy Days

16 Aug

Just got back from Columbia, where we moved my brother into his first apartment at school and saw him get his white coat for pharmacy school. We got up early yesterday and drove down in two cars. I was lucky (a term used lightly) enough to be in the car with my dad, and listen to him complain about speeding and driving and the like for three and a half hours. As he gets older, he definitely gets grumpier and more controlling. By the end of the trip, we were both ready to kill each other, I think. Thank goodness for books and ipods, where you can just retreat into your own world, and not really have to listen to the grumbling.

It was ungodly hot and humid in Columbia, as was to be expected. We spent the early afternoon moving James into his apartment. It’s really nice – down by the stadium, and mostly for students. It’s not that fancy, of course, and won’t be extremely clean after today (because, let’s face it, guys are messy and dirty). It really made me think about getting a place of my own. I don’t need to, of course, because I need to save money and avoid the real world for as long as possible. But I would like my own, private space, where I don’t feel like I have controlling parents always telling me what to do, and a grandmother who doesn’t understand anything about modern life. But I digress. In a nutshell, I’m jealous that he’s living on his own. Of course, he’s still in school, and I’m not. But still, you can’t help but want that, too. It’s times like this that really make me wish I was in school again…

Anyway. We got him moved in, then went to check into our hotel, get showered and cleaned up from the stinkiness of the day, and go out for dinner. Almost as soon as we finished unpacking, it started pouring rain, which it did for pretty much the rest of the night. It was great timing, although my hair definitely didn’t survive the humidity. After dinner, we did some grocery and school-supply shopping for James, then headed back to his apartment. We helped him put everything up and get some other things unpacked, but we didn’t stay very long because his roommates and a couple other friends were there. So, with nothing else to do, and still hours before bedtime, we went downtown for some ice cream. Let me tell you right now – I am forever indebted to Marble Slab for creating French Toast ice cream. It tastes EXACTLY like French toast, with lots of butter and maple syrup poured over. Oh my gosh, how I’ve gone my entire life – or at least this sweltering summer – without knowing about it, I’ll never know. I decided to make mine super fancy, and added both strawberries and pecans to mine. Strawberry-pecan French toast. Delicious. And giving Ben and Jerry a run for their money in owning my heart…

It had pretty much been raining – heavily – the entire time we were out running errands and doing all this. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw that much rain. Almost as if there was no point in showering before going outside. After ice cream, my dad wanted to go back to the hotel to watch some baseball thing. Typical. We’re on a mini-vacation, and he wants to do exactly what he does at home – sit around on the couch and watch baseball on TV. So my mom and I checked out movie times, found a local theater, and went to see Eat Pray Love. Neither of us have read that book before, so we didn’t really have any expectations about the movie. It was pretty good. I wanted everything Julia Roberts ate or wore in the movie. She had the perfect traveling wardrobe – comfortable and casual but stylish and portable. Perfect.

The next day, we hung around the hotel room for a long time. We didn’t have much to do that morning, because James was, of course, sleeping in. We all got ready, had breakfast, and sat around waiting for him to wake up and give us our instructions for the day. We had been planning to go downtown to the big Carolina bookstore, but that got scrapped. We finally got checked out of the hotel and met James. We stopped by to see Mari at work, and she was really excited to see us. I wish I’d gotten in touch with her earlier about us being down there – but no matter. The white coat ceremony wasn’t until four, so we ran a few more errands and then went back to James’ apartment for him and my dad to change for the ceremony.

We finally made it downtown, after trying to find somewhere to park at the church where the ceremony was, and even more frustration at my bad-traveling dad. The ceremony was nice – I’ve never been to one before. It’s just like a graduation, except kind of in reverse. They all get their white coats, just like getting a diploma, but it’s like the beginning of school. So now he’s officially in pharmacy school. He’s got several days of orientation over the rest of the week, so his life at school is about to be radically different. It’s exciting, though, in a way. After the ceremony there was a reception, but we didn’t stay for it, which was apparently rude in my dad’s opinion. It’s not like anyone there knew us, though. I mean, really, were we missed? Probably not. We went to dinner at a really good little restaurant James knew about. They had like sandwiches and burgers and stuff like that. It was all-you-can-eat crab legs night, but we resisted. Nothing worse than smelling like fish for a car ride home!

Speaking of the car ride home, it was pretty long. It took forever, because my dad was mad about everything that didn’t go his way over the trip, and probably the fact that I just straight up started to defy him. I know you’re supposed to “honor your father and mother,” but I don’t think that means, “let them control you and manipulate you into being exactly the person they want you to be, and forget to live your own life.” Anyway, it took forever to get home. I eventually had to stop reading because it got so dark, and my mom and I were texting each other from the front and back seats about my dad being in a bad mood.

I had a good time, though. I haven’t been to Columbia in a while, and it’s always exciting to see what James is up to down there. He really seems happy, and more like himself, when he’s at school. Now it’s back to work tomorrow. We’ll see how long my dad pouts over all this…

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