First of all, it is UNREAL that universities like Pepperdine exist. I’m overflowing with Mean Green pride, but seriously, people… a campus that’s nestled between the mountains and the ocean with panoramic views of the Pacific from the cafeteria? That’s not normal.
But from the moment that we arrived on campus, spectacular views aside, I knew it would be the perfect home away from home for my littlest little brother.
Pepperdine has this weird energy. Maybe it’s because it’s so small. Maybe it’s because it’s so prestigious. But it felt like home, even for me.
As we pulled up to his “dorm,” the housing staff swarmed our car like bees, opened the doors, grabbed every single item Nick brought with him and delivered it to his room. We weren’t allowed to carry a thing and he was completely moved in in less than two minutes.
While I watched the housing staff chant and cheer and welcome the new freshmen, I immediately developed that terrible sting in my throat… you know, the kind that signals potential tears ahead. It was warm and it was welcoming and it flooded my mind with sweet, sweet memories of my time as a resident assistant. I was reminded of the move-in days we spent weeks preparing for. I was reminded of the reassurance and excitement I had to provide 36 terrified freshman girls (and their parents) every year. I was reminded of the pride and spirit that I wanted to exude for my university so that they could find their pride, too. The energy was so familiar. It felt so right because it felt like home.
As we organized his room, his RA and several people from his wing weaved in and out to introduce themselves. I couldn’t help but remember my freshman year—begrudgingly living in a dorm, so nervous to be away from home, unsure of how to make friends—probably something similar to what these boys were experiencing. But I couldn’t help feeling envious of the community they will develop, the friendships they will form, the intramurals they will play, the school pride they will radiate, the late nights they will have. Here again came that stupid sting in my throat and a small tear in my eye. I felt absurdly nostalgic and emotional, yet so overjoyed knowing what awaits him. Once again, this energy was so familiar. It felt so right because it felt like home.
Later in the day, Nick showed us around his new paradise. We watched the dolphins dance in the waves, I took embarrassing photos like the embarrassingly proud sister that I am, and we doted on the views and how he can smell the ocean all the way from his dorm room. As we wandered, student after student stopped to introduce him or herself. “Welcome to the Bu!” they would all say. “You’re going to love it here.”
But that was already obvious.
In the afternoon, we ran the typical move-in day errands and we rearranged his room’s setup for the fourth or fifth time—has anyone else noticed the puzzle that is organizing dorm room furniture?
Finally, we headed to the president’s welcoming, which was the last event of the day.
As I listened to President Benton’s speech, that annoying little sting returned to pester my throat. He talked about how they’ve been praying for each new student, how each and every one of them is something special with something impressive to offer. A stereotypical speech, I’m sure, but I absolutely believed him.
“Students will exit out the right side, and parents out the left,” he eventually said. We had opted not to stay for the family orientation that continued throughout the week (three kids in college… my parents know the drill), but I didn’t realize we had to say goodbye as soon as the program ended.
“Get it together, Erica!” I commanded over and over again in my head. I knew it was ridiculous, but my emotions were winning this one.
The applause came, the crowd stood up and Nick turned to hug me first, assuming I would be the easiest goodbye. But no.
“What?!” he said when he saw my face. “I didn’t think you would cry!”
“I’m just so excited for you,” was all I could muster. “You’re exactly where you need to be.”
It was a rushed goodbye as the crowd was trying to clear, however there was definitely no need to drag it out. We stood to the side and watched him disappear into the cluster of the class of 2018. It was like watching a wave break on shore, then pull back and vanish into the vast ocean. It was weird and emotional and nostalgic, but it felt so right because he was so obviously home.
Needless to say, I’m oozing with joy and excitement for Pepperdine’s newest theatre technician that I get to call my brother. Congratulations, Nick! I can’t wait to watch you move mountains.
P.S. I’m so sorry for embarrassing you with my tears and constant photos and probably this post!