The End. The Beginning. The Walmart Parking Lot.

"This is really happening to us, isn't it?"  - My husband to me, on the looming start of the semester.
Dear Readers, I have something to tell you: this day in history marks both the beginning and the end.  This is my final weekend of summer.  The fall semester starts on Monday, and I return to teaching.  I know this is true for a multitude of reasons: the calendar telling me that it's so, the three consecutive days of orientation events I attended on campus last week, the uptick of emails in my inbox, and the distinct smell of the morning air that only happens when you reach the latter half of August.

It's really happening.  We're doing this thing.

But mostly, I know the semester is starting because of the Walmart parking lot.

There are several unspoken guidelines about living in a university town, first and foremost being that you never, ever plan a trip to Walmart during move-in weekend when 40,000+ students and their parents descend upon the store to buy Sterilite plastic drawers, bed risers, Command hooks, flimsy laundry baskets, wall-calendar-bulletin-board combos, extra long twin sheet sets and comforters, cheap desk lamps, and sundry other items that they'll throw into a dumpster nine months from now when they move out.

We university townies hold this truth to be self-evident: when it's the beginning and the end, when the humid August air begins to smell a certain way, and the calendar tells you it's so, and the moon is in the seventh hour and Jupiter aligns with Mars and move-in weekend: Just don't do it.


Just avoid Walmart.

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