Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Haunted Dorm Room

Day one of American University's two-day orientation for new students and their parents passed without incident. My daughter Melissa joined her peers for ice breaker activities and tours of the Washington, DC campus, while my husband Bob and I sat in a conference room for the better part of eight hours, learning about financial aid, campus security, and how to cope with letting go of our "baby."

The evening offered Melissa the chance to join a number of different social activities, capped off with an overnight stay in a dorm room. Parents were also invited to stay in the dorms, however we chose to spend the night with our daughter Jessica, her husband Brian, and our baby grandson Miles who live a short distance away in Virginia.

Day two of American University's two-day orientation also happened to be Melissa's 19th birthday, which unfortunately didn't exactly start on a celebratory note. Seems there were some uninvited guests staying in her dorm room....some guests of the "supernatural" kind. And to make matters worse, the girl who was supposed to share the dorm with her never showed up, leaving my poor cherub alone in this strange, unfamiliar place, lying awake until 5 am, listening to the frightening sounds of rattling door knobs and heavy footsteps.

Yes, of all of the evening events to choose from, my daughter had decided to join a campus ghost tour.

During breakfast Melissa shared the spooky tales of a college campus infiltrated by restless spirits, which included:
 - The ghost of a star football quarterback murdered by the team mascot
-  The sound of religious hymns that emanated from the bowels of a campus building erected on the   site of an old church
-  An old playground where, late at night, echoes of young voices served a lasting imprint of children at play long, long ago.

But wait.

The most chilling tale was yet to come.

Seems that one of the residence halls on American's campus played host to a nasty ghost...and of course it just happened to be the floor of the residence hall where my darling spent the night.

My husband and I looked at each other with skepticism. Surely these stories must simply be tall tales, urban legands passed from generation to generation.  After all, wouldn't the murder of a college football star have caused a media sensation?

But Melissa insisted that the upper classmen who served as their orientation leaders spoke the truth!

Not wishing to argue with my baby on her birthday, we merely shrugged and went on with our breakfast.

Much like day one, we split from our daughter as the kids headed for more fun and the parents shuffled back to the conference room.

As luck would have it, later that day two of the upper classmen who served as orientation leaders spoke to the parents, providing us with insight into college life from a student's perspective. As their presentation neared its end and the parents had exhausted all of their questions, Bob bravely raised his hand, determined to bring up one more important topic!

"My daughter went on the ghost tour last night and she told us about the murder of the star any of that stuff true?" he demanded.

The two girls looked at Bob...then looked at each other...then burst out laughing!

"Oh no, she believed us," they laughed with delight! "We made everything up!"

Feeling a bit relieved that the place where my daughter would be spending the next four years did not play host to a grisley murder, Bob and I nevertheless felt bad that Melissa had spent the entire night absolutely convinced that her new home was haunted.

When Bob and I explained that the supernatural stories were, indeed, tall tales made up by orientation leaders with a warped sense of humor. Her response came as no surprise.


Alas, at 19, Melissa has evolved into a smart, confident adult, yet in so many ways, she is still a naive teen. She is aware of, but not really sure what lies beyond the "safety bubble" of our small suburban New Jersey town. Admitedly, part of that bubble came at the hands of her overprotective mother, who now has no choice but to let her face ghostly spirits, and everything else that college life has in store...on her own.

However, I know that my strong, amazing daughter will tackle each challenge, overcome each hurdle in her own time, in her own way as she leaves her small town (and her parents) behind in favor of new adventures in Washington, DC.

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