“I’m a really terrible driver,” said Ashley, the pretty, leggy blonde, who was kindly ferrying me around. “That’s fine,” I said, “I am too.” Just at that moment Ashley drove into the car bedside us. Literally into it. An actual moving car.
I love Savannah, the warmth of the people, the gentle pace, the sense of community, and the moss – in fact, especially the moss. When my son was asked why he had chosen to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), he said, “because my mother wanted me to come here,” which is partially true. I thought he would feel at home amongst so many creative minds. Checking into his residence, I heard him being asked for his name and phone number and then asked if he was bringing any pets with him “Pets? Oh, yes”, he said, “I have a panther down stairs in the garage.”
As Amory settled into his dorm, I jogged around Forsyth Park, enjoyed the quiet of Magnolia Hall, interviewed the tiny but powerful President Paula Wallace about her journey as a trailblazer, and joined Meredith Delaney at a Get Together Give Together in her historic home. We were raising money for the Telfair Museum, in the memory of Mary Telfair, an educated and vivacious Southerner who shunned expectations, galloped off around the world, gave formidable men a run for their money when it came to opinions, established a women’s only hospital, and became the first American woman to found an art museum. Just imagine the raised eyebrows she must have caused in 1819.
Trying to navigate the American university system had been a little puzzling for me. I had only just understood that the ‘Accommodations’ department was not about cushions, curtains and carpets, it was about extra time in exams and managing those with learning differences. ‘FERPA’ sounds like a disease, but turns out not to be. By the way, you don’t actually get to sell all those curriculum books back at the end of the semester, and the midterm dates are not when the kids get a break to come home, quite the reverse, it’s when they sit the dreaded exams. The freshman orientation seminar for confused parents helped straighten some things out and it was reassuring to hear that the most popular major amongst students was the major of ‘Undecided’.
However, my greatest surprise came when I had to say goodbye to Amory. An impossible sadness swept over me as I boarded the plane to leave. This was so unexpected, especially considering my children have all grown up going to schools scattered across a few countries. But there was something very profound about this moment, a new beginning for him but the ending of a chapter for me.