Imo and I drove to Antigonish Nova Scotia yesterday, where she will be attending St Francis Xavier University. Seemed as if everyone in town was painted, shouting, cheering, clapping. (Kind of like the picture here, except that it was daytime and FX colours are blue and gold.) We drove through a gauntlet of enthusiastic greeters. A guy in a big hat and a bathing suit stepped out of the crowd to block our rental car. He held up a sign that said HONK. So I honked. The guy turned a somersault, everyone laughed, and we drove on. Before we got out of the car we were high-fived and given hand-outs and pointed where to go. The word AWESOME was used thirty-eight thousand times.
I found it all simple and charming -- what first year should be. But Imo is a pretty cool kid, and some of this over-the-top enthusiasm nonplussed her.
If anyone else tells me how FANTASTIC everything is, she muttered, I am going to brain them.
Come on, don't be too cool for school, I said. Join in and you will find yourself having fun. Why, I am tempted to hoot and holler myself.
We were in her dorm hallway, laden like donkeys. A guy in a headband and face paint, a few doors down from us, threw his head back and screamed something unintelligeable at the top of his lungs. Very tribal, it seemed to me. Somewhere between Survivor and Lord of the Flies, with a touch of Manchester United thrown in.
Come on, Imo! I said. A big Wa-hoo! With me now. One, two, three ...
She pulled me into her room and began to unpack.
I don't know what I was expecting to come out of her knapsack. Symbols of all the little girls she had been over the years, I guess. Stuffed animals, plasticene, a notebook with her name written all over it, a poster of Dora or Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers...
Nope. First things she put on her desk were a can of Red Bull and a bottle of Tylenol.
I swallowed a big lump in my throat. My little girl is all grown up.