Not only was this Father’s Day weekend, but it was also my older daughter’s birthday weekend. We decided several weeks ago to drive to Pittsburgh to see her for her birthday on June 20th, and then we would all be together to celebrate Father’s Day the next day. We know this drill well. We’ve been visiting Pittsburgh since the fall of 2008 when we moved our older daughter into her freshman dorm at Duquesne University, located in downtown Pittsburgh. She graduated on time, in four years, with a double major. Naturally we were very proud of her, and after graduation, we packed her up and moved her back home to Maryland.
Her time back home with us was short-lived, however. Over that summer, she accepted a graduate assistantship in Duquesne’s Office of Residence Life, giving her the opportunity to earn a master’s degree, tuition free, while working on campus. She knew the inner workings of ORL quite well. As a junior she had been a desk aid in her dorm, and as a senior a RA in another dorm. For the grad assistantship, she was assigned to the office itself, supporting the Director of Residence Life and her staff. Because her grad assistantship was in ORL, she also received free housing, which meant two more years living on campus in a dorm.
In the spring of 2014 she graduated with her master’s degree and subsequently accepted a full-time position as a RD (resident director). And, so began her seventh year living on campus in a dorm at Duquesne, albeit this time in a one bedroom, fully furnished apartment on the ground floor of her dorm, across the hall from her office.
Her apartment has a small extra room which she has furnished as a guest room. When we travel to see her, our younger daughter always stays with her. We have always stayed at one of Pittsburgh’s three Marriott hotels, accumulating points and using the points for future visits. The nearby Courtyard is our favorite, but when there are not rooms available we will stay at one of the other two full-service Marriott locations in the downtown area.
This weekend, however, there were no rooms available. Mick Jagger was in town for a concert, and Pittsburgh was holding a jazz festival in the center of the city. Father’s Day probably contributed to the room shortage as well. Our daughter suggested we stay with her in her dorm. I thought she meant all four of us in her one-bedroom apartment, which I suppose we could have managed with someone on the sofa and someone on an air mattress. But, what she meant was really stay in her dorm, as in a dorm room upstairs. And, so, this is exactly what happened. Last night, Saturday, June 20, 2015, I slept in a dormitory room for the first time in 37 years.
I lived in a dorm all four years of college at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. I loved dorm life. I’ve always been a night owl and no matter how late you stay up, you can always find someone else who is still up as well. The laundry rooms are normally free in the wee hours of the morning, and for a procrastinator like me, that meant doing your laundry while hanging out with another night owl. I wasn’t blessed with any sisters, so living in a dorm full of girls was thrilling for me.
My freshman year I lived with other freshmen girls in a dorm with a house-mother. There were lots of rules and a very strict curfew. My aunt and uncle, who lived in nearby Baton Rouge, gave me a ticket to an Elton John concert for my birthday in October of my freshman year. My uncle drove to Hammond to pick me up, brought me and his daughter to the concert at LSU, waited for us in the parking lot, and then drove me back to my dorm after the concert. He had to escort me in and wait for the house-mother to come and unlock the front doors of the dorm to sign me back in.
My last two years I lived in the sorority dorm. Each wing of the dorm was assigned to one of the four sororities on campus, Tri Sigma, Alpha Sigma Tau, Alpha Omicron Pi, and my own sorority, Phi Mu. The dorm was composed of suites, four double occupancy rooms per suite. I lived with the same group of girls both of those years. I have such great memories of those days, and thanks to Facebook, I am able to be in touch with some of those girls still to this day.
My daughter’s dorm, Vickroy, is an upperclassman dorm and unoccupied for this summer. It is far nicer than the dorms of my college days. Still, it was somewhat surreal being in an absolutely empty dorm, sleeping in a dorm room with my husband. My daughter had made up the beds with her own linens, put fresh flowers and water bottles on the desk, and added a basket of toiletries and towels from her apartment for the ensuite bathroom. That combined with dorm-wide free Wi-Fi; well, it wasn’t far off from life at the Courtyard Marriott! It was lovely, and we slept well.
We slept well, however, until bright and early this morning, when we were awakened by the thunderous sound of a helicopter airlifting a HVAC unit to the rooftop of the dorm next door. My daughter had mentioned this but she assured us that we were on the other side of the building from where the work would be taking place. However, this was not the case, and I jumped out of the bed at the first sounds of the pulsing, repetitive thumping coming from outside our window. It was interesting to watch as it hovered above the neighboring dorm, towering above us, until the unit was in place before releasing it, and darting off to retrieve another unit.
After the free show was over, we showeredand packed up, and headed back downstairs to my daughter’s apartment for coffee before Mass. What had initially begun as a problem of fully booked hotels, turned out to be a very economical trip to visit our daughter so that we could celebrate her birthday as well as Father’s Day. And, who can say that they had an entire dorm to themselves for the night!