Well, with Jo-Ellen by her side, of course. And the best thing is, she initiated it.
First, we picked up her books at the book store. And although I went in with her, I made her go up to the front desk by heself and speak with the cashier.
"The pre-paid books are all in the back of the store," she said.
"Okay, so you need to go to the back of the store," I said, and pointed her in the right direction. "Jo, you can help her with that, right?"
I went back to looking at books. Five seconds later she was back by my side. "I waited in line, but there are guys just standing there talking, and they won't speak to me."
"Let me see," I said.
So, I stood there with her in line. There were guys talking...about another student's order. I waited patiently. About five minutes later, that student was gone, and they looked at me. "Can we help you?"
"This girl needs to speak with you," I said, and walked away, leaving Ashes to do the heavy lifting.
As we were walking out, I said to Ashes, "Okay, so what's next?"
"You said you wanted to look at the dorms," Ashes said.
Ashes looked at me, smiling her pirate smile. "Why don't we try to find it ourselves, and you go by car? We'll meet up with you there."
Great! Just what I was hoping for! Now, you have to keep in mind, Salem State is essentially four campuses, spread out over a matter of blocks. So, getting about is necessary, and it's not exactly a self-contained college, like the one I went to. Getting from her dorm to say, South Campus is literally a fifteen minute walk, and although they do have buses that go constantly, Ashes says she refuses to take them, fearing she'll end up lost in the city.
So, this was a necessary step, and one I was hoping she'd master before she moved in. In fact, I was delighted.
"So, text me when you're close by," I said, and waved to her as she headed off.
Ten minutes later, I was at the dorm, and so was she. "Okay, let's now try going from your dorm to the gym. You remember how to get there, right?"
Fifteen minutes later, she found me at the gym. That just left her dorm to the South Campus, which was the longest walk. Being that it was a hot summer day, I took pity on the girls and drove them to the South Campus, pointing out how to get there. Then we spent some time walking through the tunnel that connected the two buildings on the South Campus.
After that, dinner at my favorite restaurant in Salem, the Tavern. I can easily see meeting up with her once a month and having a bite to eat there. Then, the long trip back, through a heavily-congested Boston.
And then, she was home, and I was waiting in the driveway at Jo-Ellen's house, as they said good-bye.
"Well, this is it," said Ashes to Jo-Ellen, as she opened her arms to give her a hug.
"You'll be fine," said Jo-Ellen. "Everything will be fine. You have nothing to worry about. And if you get worried, just pretend I'm right there with you."
"I'll miss you," said Ashes, and they hugged again.
I thought about Sunday, the day we drop her off at school. I thought about the good-byes I made with my friends at the start of college, some of whom I never saw again. Suddenly, I felt myself getting all sentimental. Stop it, stop it!
I blinked away an emotion as Ashes re-entered the car. "Ready to go?" I asked, trying to sound cheerful.
She looked at me and kind of glared. "If you get all emotional on Sunday I won't hug you good-bye," she warned.
I promised I wouldn't.