Run, Girl (If You Can)

Chapter 24 - Nostalgia

Taking the car was a mistake since Robert had to drive around forever to find a parking spot close to campus. By the time they got there Keeley was thoroughly sick of being in the car. Containing her excitement was difficult as they walked around campus. It wasn't terribly crowded but then again it was a Saturday. That made it easier to get around but more difficult to ask for directions.

"If we follow the signs the bookstore should be somewhere, right?" she asked no one in particular. Her father was several feet away looking at a building directory.

"It looks like the engineering building is this way. Do you want to take a look at that first?"

She bit her lip hesitantly. "Shouldn't we find someone to talk to about the school?"

He checked the directory again. "We might find someone willing to give you a tour in the student administration building. It's this way."

They lucked out—a tour they wanted was scheduled to start in forty minutes and they managed to get squeezed onto the list. While they waited, they flicked through several brochures available with information about the university, majors and minors, and campus life.

"Are you going to want to live on campus?"

Keeley looked up in surprise. "Why would I do that when I have a perfectly good bedroom at home?"

Robert sighed. She was always such a daddy's girl, especially after losing her mother and brother. She needed to go spread her wings instead of catering to a lonely middle aged man.

"The trust covers dormitory expenses. It would be more convenient for you not having to commute more than an hour each way and you would make friends easier."

Conflict brewed on her face. "But what about you?"

"I'm home late half the time anyway. You can always come see me on Sundays." He could tell she was warming up to the idea and smiled in satisfaction.

Keeley hadn't even thought about living on campus. Her dad had a point. It would be a lot harder being involved and making friends if she spent so much time commuting, not to mention the study time that would be wasted. Hadn't she just been thinking how she didn't want to make the same mistakes in college this time around?

"Thank you all for your interest in NYU's college of engineering. We offer several diverse programs such as applied physics, civil engineering, biomedical engineering, and mathematics..." the presenter began, preventing Keeley from giving it further thought.

She paid close attention to everything the presenter said, especially once they actually moved to the engineering building. The labs where prospective mechanical engineers worked on building things were fairly interesting but she was far more intrigued by the medical labs they only briefly passed because of potential biohazards.

This was the future she wanted. She would spend the next four years, if not longer, primarily in this building. It was a bit overwhelming seeing her dreams stare her in the face.

The tour ended in the bookstore. Keeley had never seen so much NYU merchandise in one place before. How was she supposed to pick just one? She ran her hands over the clothes racks mindlessly. New York was chilly for a good chunk of the year so something with long sleeves might be a good idea but there were still at least a dozen options.

"Dad, should I get a gray hoodie with purple letters or a purple one with white letters?"

"The purple one with white letters looks good," he replied. "I think it has a better font than the other one." He had a point. It was a little less blocky.

"Alright!" she cheered, clutching it to her chest excitedly.

She never bothered to get any spirit wear for Boston University because she was fairly ambivalent about going there. This was her first time having some and she intended to wear it proudly.

"Now that that's taken care of, where do you want to go for dinner?"

"Somewhere with steak?" Keeley asked hopefully. On their budget, chicken was the usual meat of choice.

Robert shook his head indulgently. "Why not! It's a special occasion. Let's go get my soon-to-be college girl a steak."

"You're the best, Dad!"

They went to a relatively inexpensive steakhouse chain nearby and stuffed themselves on warm brown bread while they waited for their entrees to come out. Nostalgia tends to hit when moving forward into a new phase of life and Keeley was drowning in it.

She reminisced with her father about her elementary school days back when their family was complete. Having cried out all her feelings earlier in the day, she was able to laugh about the memories now.

"Ooh, Mom was so mad!" she chuckled, recalling the time that she and Kaleb got into their mother's makeup so Keeley could give him a makeover and practically destroyed the bathroom.

"The pictures were almost worth it though."

Keeley sobered. "It's been a long time since we looked through the old photo albums together."

"It has. You know…I still have a bunch of pictures that never made it into the albums. Your mom meant to get around to putting them together but wasn't able to before…anyway, they're in a box at the top of my closet and the dates and events are written on the back. Would you be interested in finishing them for her?"

"I think Mom would like that. I'm not as artistic as she is but I'm sure I could think of something."

Monica Hall was an expert scrapbooker and frequently got together with her friends to chat and put them together. If Keeley busted out her mom's old art supplies she might be able to replicate what she did.

"It would be nice not to have a bunch of loose photos lying around," Robert added.

After losing his wife and son, he bought a small digital camera and kept all of the pictures he took of Keeley on his desktop computer. Occasionally he printed one out to put it in a picture frame but most of the pictures in their house were from before their family shrunk.

As much as he tried to live for his daughter, he was a man who couldn't truly escape his past. It was a similarity they shared without even realizing it. Robert never would have dreamed that his usually happy-go-lucky daughter struggled with memories even more traumatic than those of losing her mother and brother.

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