Acting Squirrelly

This is a post written exactly one year ago, when my daughter was beginning her freshman year at New York University.  Next time, I’ll describe our adventures in getting her to NYU for her sophomore year.

Ten minutes after her grandmother and I hugged my daughter goodbye and left her  alone in the massive Third Avenue North freshman dorm at New York University in Manhattan, I opened my purse to discover that I had some of her important documents.

We were already in a cab bound for our hotel, and she didn’t need the documents immediately, so I promised to take them to her the next evening, after she returned from the day’s Welcome Week activities at Madison Square Garden and after I finished watching the day matches at the US Open.

Now, according to my son, whose tennis lessons have cost me the equivalent of a Mercedes, I “suck” at tennis. But I’m quite possibly the best in the world at watching tennis, especially in beautiful weather. It was a spectacular day. John Isner, the former University of Georgia star, won his match. Rafael Nadal and his muscles meanered past me as I sat eating lunch. The perpetually orange Nick Bollettieri hit on me but  backed away quickly when he realized I was not interested in becoming wife number nine.  I saw James Blake take the first two sets of his match.

At the end of Blake’s second set, my daughter called to say that I needed to vacate my expensive seat at the US Open immediately to go search my hotel room for her lost credit card.

“But I straightened up the room after you left, and I didn’t see your credit card.”

“Just go look, Mom.”

“Can I wait until James Blake is finished playing?”

“I’m really worried that my card got stolen. Please just go look now.”

I left the US Open, warily trudging past the huge signs warning that there was no re-entry after I exited the grounds. And of course, as soon as I passed the point of no re-entry, I got a text from my daughter saying she’d found the credit card.

But she still needed her opening week schedule and vouchers. So when the shuttle from the Open dropped me off at my hotel, I jumped into a cab and told the driver to take me to Third and Eleventh.

I got to her dorm, walked into the lobby, and called to tell her I was there. She came downstairs, took her papers, and thanked me.

“Do you want me to take you to dinner?” I asked, fully expecting her to jump at the invitation. Her response brought back memories of a little squirrel I hadn’t thought about in years.

When we were teenagers, my brother, Beau, found a baby squirrel in the woods. He brought it home, and my mother helped him bottle feed the tiny, hairless rodent, much to the consternation of our dachshund, Tubbs. It was against the natural order of things, heretical even, for a dachshund’s family to harbor a squirrel, the bane of every dachshund’s existence.

Beau named the squirrel Sammy, and he grew into a fine-looking adult squirrel who seemed to love living in our screened porch. He spent his days jumping from the porch swing to the screened sides of the porch and climbing up and down the screened walls.He loved my mom and my brother, perching on their shoulders to eat and cocking his cute little head sideways when they talked to him.

But one day my parents broke the sad news to Beau that Sammy was grown. It was time to for him to make his way in the wild. They took the squirrel outside to the woods behind out house, and they set him down. The second his little feet hit the ground, Sammy took off.

So yesterday when I offered to feed her, my daughter tilted her head to the side, considering my invitation. And then she said, “Well, I already kind of had a papaya smoothie, and my friends are waiting for me upstairs. So I guess not.” I hugged her goodbye and watched her disappear back into her dorm.

And like Sammy the squirrel, my girl never looked back.

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