Tindell Baldwin »

Book Exert

I decided I was going to post a few exerts from the book I am working on!

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It feels like home

I still remember the feeling of driving up to Auburn, rental car packed to the brim with my life from the past 18 years. I nervously picked at my lip, a recent habit, and watched as we got farther from the place I had always called home.

It was nervous excitement, or at least that’s what I told myself. It was time to start a new life, one where no one knew that Stanfill was sononmys with bible studies and Jesus freaks. A place where I could finally be me outside the shadow of my family.

87 miles to go, my mom talked in a quick chatter like she always did when things were changing. My dad tried to make jokes about all the cow pastures he was seeing and I tried to look like this wasn’t the biggest change I had ever made.

An hour ago I had said goodbye to two of my best friends, both headed to different colleges. We weren’t emotional girls but this goodbye warranted tears so we cried and then made fun of each other for it. We hugged and promised things would be the same but part of me knew they never would. I watched as they pulled out of my driveway, we were as close as the sisters I never had and I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t have them for this next phase of my life.

80 miles to go, my mom is still talking about dorm colors and my dads wondering if anyone will think he’s in college. Sorority rush starts in a few days and I pray that no one knows my tainted reputation. I go over my outfits in my head, praying no one bought the same Jcrew dress that I had. I know rush means I won’t be able to party for a few days but I think my roommate brought some wine to ease the pain of move in. My thoughts wonder on until we finally reach exit 51, home for the next four years.

We pull our ugly rental into the dorm parking lot where parking attendants are directing us to the nearest parking spot. I wish we had brought my mom’s Lexus it makes us look so much cooler than this ugly rental, I make a mental note to mention its a rental to whoever my new suite mates are.

I know my best friend has already moved in because I see her car parked in the parking lot where we stop. The moving in process begins one heavy box at a time. I don’t like manual labor, sweating makes my make up smudge. I begrudgingly help as we make it up the three flights of stairs, no elevator. The dorms are old and smell like sterile cleaner. I hug my best friend and roommate and thank God to see a familiar face. The next few hours fly by and before I know it our room has become a home, a tiny TV sits at the top of big shelf, dressers crammed with clothes, and a desk full of computers and school supplies. This is the part i’m dreading, saying goodbye. I hate goodbyes, they have never gone well for me. I look at my mom who has tears spilling over her eyes.

I wrap her in a huge bear hug, the kind that says things will be ok. Despite our many differences or should I say biting similarities I know I will miss my mom deeply. She may not agree with my decisions and I don’t agree with her faith but she is my mom and in that there is a bond that binds us. She tells me she’s so proud of me and I can’t think of any reasons why. We don’t say a lot just hold each other and hope this isn’t really good bye.

I look at my dad, my eyes blurry. He holds me and tells me he will see me at class on Monday, I try to laugh but my tears are choking my throat. I don’t know what i’ll do with out my daddys protection but I try not to think about it.

In true Stanfill family tradition we exchange envelopes, their letters to me and my letter and CD to them. I have made a CD full of songs that remind me of our life together. Eighteen years full of memories packed into one tiny disc. “Home” by Michael Buble is the first song and my mom told me later that when it came on they pulled over on the side of the high way and held each other as they cried. Michelle branch is also on the CD, “Goodbye to you”, its a song from the CD my dad and I listened to on the way to father daughter camp my freshman year of college when my great rebellion was just starting. Fleetwood Mac’s, “Landslide” is also on there, when I was ten my dad told me he was about to show me the greatest song ever written, I took it literally and was sorely disappointed but it still made it. “My daughters eyes” by Martina McBride is also on there, my mom and I deemed it our song when it first came out, she said it reminded her of how alive I was as a child.

It was one of those days where you put all of your issues aside and love each other despite yesterday and the day before. I was hoping I would be stronger in this day, that I wouldn’t feel so connected to them but you can’t erase your childhood and more importantly you can’t shake unconditional love.

The next few days seemed to pass in a blur and I was more homesick than I ever thought I would be. I thrived though, surrounded by so many new people I loved making new friends. We quickly bonded with our suite mates when we all shared a bottle of wine and even met some girls from Atlanta down the hall. I was ecstatic to start sorority rush, it didn’t even occur to me that it might be a life changing event.

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