The End of Something

by longformphilly


Gene Weingarten | The Washington Post | September 1999

Some people get all weepy when their children leave home for college, but not me. Children are supposed to grow up and move away. It’s no big deal.

So I shed no tears on the final week of summer vacation when I drove my daughter Molly to the University of Pennsylvania, where she and a roommate will live. Their dorm room would fit two Volkswagens and a wheelbarrow. The air inside is suffocating. The decor is Kmart. The carpet is septic. The place reminds you of those hotel rooms in the movies where stubbled gangsters in ribbed undershirts and fedoras hide from the fuzz while a neon sign blinks outside. Molly’s walls are a shade of paint that Sherwin-Williams could market as “Dingy Yellow.” Or “You’ll-Never-Take-Me-Alive Copper.”

Molly took one look around and was giddily happy.

So I am happy. That is the way it is supposed to work, and it is working fine, in my case.

Molly’s roommate is from Chicago. Within minutes of meeting, the two women were bouncing around campus, their lives already jubilantly intertwined. It seems odd to use this term, women. I know it is the accepted designation for 18-year-old human females, the legally correct word, a word sanctioned by the restroom doors at some of the nation’s finest institutions of higher education. But until a few days ago, or so it seems, I was wiping strained prunes off this woman’s chin.

Writer bio: The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, the only two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, is a native New Yorker. He has never worked or lived in our area and frankly, we can’t tell if he even likes our area. However, he sent his daughter to our finest university, and wrote about the experience. So it counts. And, let’s be honest: we wanted an excuse to feature the work of the best narrative journalist of our time.

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