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First Day

“You should sleep with your head to the east,”
Dad said, as he and Mom put sheets on the bed.
I was putting clothes in the dresser drawers of my new dorm room.
“Why?” I asked.
”It’s a spiritual thing,” he said.

After unpacking all my stuff,
we bought lunch at a local grocery store and had a picnic.
We ate red pears, thin slices of beef on hard rolls,
and Italian sponge cookies.
“You can keep the extra cookies,” Mom said.
But then she forgot to give them to me,
so they stayed in a bag in the trunk.

After lunch, I watched them drive away.
Finally, I’d left childhood behind. I was a college student.
I took the stairs to my room and stayed up late meeting people.

But now, when I look back at that first day of college,
all I can remember is my dad’s advice and the lunch
and the forgotten cookies.

—Dr. Gian S. Pagnucci
University Professor, 2009–10