I have been warned about the dangers of overpacking for college. Interns at work this summer shook their heads disparagingly when I told them I was going shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond for the sixteenth time, and my friends from high school laughed when I let them know them I was bringing all four pillows from my double bed to my extra-long twin college mattress. My copy of the News came in the mail cautioning against bringing too many things to campus, and I tossed the paper aside to go buy three shower caddies. What do they know?
My plan for college is not only to bring everything I own, but also bring doubles and triples of each item. What will I do, I reason, if my ruler snaps in half and is rendered useless? If I can buy three now, I never have to go to Staples again. I’m playing it safe, and unlike my less-prepared classmates, I will never be without a straightedge or pencil sharpener or a hand towel (or a…etc). Stores make this habit easy to maintain: so many items are sold in bulk that all my good sense is quashed by the tempting prospect of a deal. A bulletin board? How about four? I’m in no position to resist.
Whatever sadness my parents feel over the departure of their eldest child has been buried under their frustration with our now-clutter-filled living room. It became a very serious and substantial trip hazard over past few weeks. I’ve got the bruises to show for it. My mother, who spends a good twenty minutes a day gazing with increasing incredulity at the massive piles of boxes and blankets, recently suggested lightening the load. I shot her my best death stare and continued to wrap up my fourth Ethernet cable.
Moving away, no matter how long and arduous the process, is really just a favor to my parents anyway. Earlier this week, I not only cleared out the living room but also my bedroom, and now my parents have regained the use of their own space and have access to do what they please with mine. I’ve even encouraged them to get adventurous in their ideas for alternative uses for my bedroom. But the real issue has little to do with my old house, and more with moving everything from there to campus.
My family is SUV-averse and the small trunk space of our sedans is proving to be a serious problem. We considered different ways to transport my possessions from northern New Jersey to New Haven—boxes? Too many? Plane or trains? Too complicated—and have concluded that using both of our cars may be the solution. After spending three-quarters of an hour determining exact spacing, font, and page color, my father and I have produced an exact replica of the yellow “BR” windshield sign that allows us to park in front of Vanderbilt Hall for as long as we need. We don’t know if anyone will notice that the same family has two cars filled with my things blocking the way and preventing others from doing the same, so we’ve printed out five copies of the sign, just in case one, or four, gets confiscated.
I’ve been looking forward to today — meeting my roommates, setting up my new home and watching a showdown between my parents and the campus police over illegal document replication — and to thumbing my nose at time-tested wisdom: who says you shouldn’t overpack? I’m preparing to be the girl who saves the day with six-hundred spare paper clips when someone has to fabricate a suit of chain mail. Confident and assured of my decision to bring my life-times-four to school with me, I pack and pack. I load all my worldly possessions into the car, and get ready to go.
Just let me squeeze in these last four rugs, and maybe, soon, I’ll be ready for Yale.
Erica Rothman is a freshman in Branford College.