Because my friends are such competent, capable, graceful handlers of complicated logistics, they seldom make a fuss over achieving something herculean and difficult like moving a kid out of a college dorm. No, I have never heard any of them really discuss in detail how much of a pain in the ass this process can be.
Like my friend Ann, who mentions oh so casually that she will be flying to Dallas, renting a van, dissembling a loft, finding a storage space for her daughter's belongings, packing up the clothes and flying home with her this weekend. She does not complain and makes it sound like anyone could pull this off in a weekend, no problema.
So I went blindly and foolishly to pick up Atticus from his dorm in the city on Friday. How hard could that be? I didn't have to fly anywhere or rent anything. Just drive down, fill up the car and drive home. Jeff offered to come help fill the car, then go in to work and take the train home. Even better! Easy peasy!
But when we got there, it turned out, nothing was easy or peasy.
I did not have ID on me (left it in the car, around the block in the parking garage) so the security guard at the front desk was pissed at me.
Atticus had lost his ID and his room-key the night before which meant he had not yet really gotten the administrative part of the moving process moving.
After looking through his stuff for half an hour we decided to give up on finding the key and ID and figure out how to move out without it. Think fees.
Now there was a waiting list for the moving bins so we began to move the crap ourselves by hand.
Three times we loaded ourselves up like Sherpas, waited forever for the elevator (he lives on the 15th floor) carried the stuff through the alley, past the three trucks and the forklift that were being used to load the entire set of the play "Big Fish" from the Oriental Theater that backs up to his dorm and the six smoking stage-crew guys, into the parking garage up eight flights (by elevator) and tried to cram it all in to Jeff's Lexus.
The fourth trip we scored a dolly and managed to put everything leftover on it. We cleaned up, Atticus met with the RA, discussed the fees due when one loses his key and ID on move out day and were good to go.
We pushed the elevator button and miraculously it opened up almost immediately.
Then the fire alarm went off.
Now as any good city boy knows, you do NOT get on an elevator when the fire alarm goes off. Atticus told us to drop everything and head down stairs. Which I did. At the 9th floor I realized Jeff was not with us. He texted: It's a false alarm I am staying here. Elevators working, come back up.
So Atticus and I turned around and trudged back up several floors.
Then the nice men from the Chicago Fire Department came running past us in full gear with their axes out.
We texted Jeff to get his ass out and headed back down a dozen flights with a gaggle of art students.
Standing around outside we watched the Fire Department come and go with little urgency. The kids speculated it was another kitchen fire. The guy from Channel 7 (their studio is right there) came out and tried see if there was a story.
At last they let us all back in. We lined up obediently to wait for the elevators. A lot of the kids took the stairs. A small group took cuts. Atticus told us later they are from the Arab Emirates, royalty, and don't ever stand in line. Hmm.
Another half hour went by and we finally found ourselves with our last load at the car.
It became apparent that this final load was not going to fit.
"It will fit if there is only a driver," Jeff said.
So we gave Atticus a train pass, Jeff went back to work, and I drove the loaded car home by myself.
Which is how I managed to come home from my first time of moving my kid out of the dorm without one key element--my kid.
Ann on the other hand did just fine and even managed to buy some kitchen stuff for next year. She of course made it sound easy. Which I am quite sure it was not.