The following reflection was written in 2003, when I was between 25 and 26 years old.

I’d stayed up late the night before with Dad, watching coverage of the fatal crash that killed Princess Diana. It was eerie in a number of ways. He and I hadn’t been the best of friends that summer, with the computer and with my not getting a job until halfway through the break. But there we were, glued to the boob tube, bonding in some strange way.

We got up on the morning of August 31, my brother John’s birthday, and prepared to move John into his dorm at ZooMass Amherst (population: drunk) for his freshman year of college. It was a heck of a way to celebrate his birthday, but I don’t think he minded. He was getting the chance to move out on his own for the first time.

I had never been to UMass. The closest I’d ever gotten to it was in letters I’d exchanged with Meg my freshman year of college, when she would write to me about what was going on out there. When we arrived that August morning I was terrified by the sheer size of the place. I couldn’t understand how learning could possibly go on there. I was more sure than ever that I had picked the right (small) school.

It took forever for us to get a parking spot and it took forever for us to lug his shit all the way up way too many flights of stairs. When we were finally settled, some of John’s friends stopped by. You have to realize that half of our high school ends up going to UMass Amherst, at least for their first year. It’s just the rule. For those that went, I suppose it was like never really leaving Chelmsford, but leaving your parents behind at the same time.

Anyway, we got John moved in and then we went to the bookstore with him to pick up his books and soon thereafter we were back on our way. I think we had two cars that day and I can’t remember who I rode with. I probably rode with Dad on the way there and Mom on the way back. I’m not sure though.

It was an eerie day and it made me look forward to moving back into my own small school that much more.