It’s been a couple years since my initial departure for college up north in Boston, and leaving the home state behind taught me a few things.
As far as packing goes: Don’t overdo it. This isn't exactly original advice, but let me demonstrate with a little story of personal failure.
Bed Bath & Beyond, the go-to college prep destination, lets you walk around the store with this little machine you can use to scan things you like. They ask you what school you are going to, locate the closest Bed Bath & Beyond to your new home, and have that store assemble your chosen items for you to pick up and pay for upon arrival.
Since I was making the move from Houston to Boston, this service won me over. The sales associate placed the scanner in my hands, and I was ready to embark on my pseudo wedding registry experience.
“Also," I was told, "keep in mind that the other store might be out of stock of some things, so you may want to scan a couple different versions of some items”
She would never know the mistake she made, saying those words to a worrier like me.
There is a certain lack of commitment that overcomes you once you’ve scanned a couple items. You don’t have to buy them, it’s just an option. You can choose from your options once they’ve been assembled at the Bed Bath and Beyond that is far, far away, in college land. A place that doesn’t even seem real yet.
Let me tell you, it is real.
I strolled into my local Massachusetts Bed Bath and Beyond a couple weeks later and gave them my name.
The less than thrilled sales associate looked at me, then down at my name, then back at me, and said in an even tone, “Oh, you’re towel girl.”
Apparently my scanning happiness had led to the assemblage of an incredible pile of goods including 40 towels, different shapes, colors, and brands, which in turn led to the hatred of all BB&B employees directed squarely at me. Matters worsened as the sales associate who discovered my identity summoned other assemblers so that they too could stare down towel girl as she took in the toppling pile of goods she had forced them to amass.
Fellow freshman, the people I hoped to befriend, were also witness to the towel incident. They stared openly from their reasonably sized piles of college necessities, with standard numbers of sheets and pillows.
Lesson learned: they will probably not run out of towels. Run the risk.
Leaving Texas also requires that you pack a couple must have items. Namely:
1. Comforting Blanket
It isn’t that people are rude other places, they just aren’t overly friendly. A smile is more often earned than given freely.
You will, at some point, experience homesickness. Which is why I recommend the inclusion of an attractive but also very comfortable blanket.
Some days you need to be smothered in warmth to remind yourself of the humid Houston summer and the brilliant choice you have made in trying out new weather patterns.
Chances are, the Mexican food will be virtually nonexistent or might as well be in your new non-Texas state.
The dining hall will never season dishes sufficiently. You will miss the kick of enchiladas and weep when you discover that the queso listed on the menu is merely nacho cheese. You will feel a disturbing comfort when you enter a Chipotle and allow yourself to indulge in almost-Mexican food. Prepare yourself.
If you are like me and can’t live without a little spicy in your life, beg for a care package filled with Bob’s Texas Style Jalapeno chips, or a couple cans of chipotle sauce from La Michoacana.
Your chances of having a Whataburger are also devastatingly low, so if your transportation plans allow, make room for a bottle of H-E-B’s Whataburger ketchup.
3. Cowboy Boots
Represent Texas well. Even if you don’t have much of an accent, your origin will be discovered. The first time a “y’all” falls from your lips, the charade is over. Prepare yourself for Rick Perry jokes, inquiries about Toddlers and Tiaras, and shock-filled disappointment if you aren’t a follower of Friday Night Lights.
There will be a cowboy/barn/country/Daisy Duke-themed party.
Take pride in your home state, and pack some cowboy boots. They won’t understand if you don’t own them, and it isn’t worth explaining.
Not everywhere is blessed with the humidity that keeps us Houstonians youthful and soft-skinned. You will quickly notice the difference in your skin as dryness creeps its way into your life.
It’s not every day a Texan embarks on an adventure to a new land. Document your experiences as you meet new people and explore a new city.
Stop by Blue Willow Bookshop and select a journal you can cozy up with in your blanket.
This is an exciting time in your life and you don’t want to forget it.