"Change will do you good" Shelby Natali sung as she drove her blue Volkswagon Beetle into the parking lot of the Terrace, Mount St. Maryís Universityís oldest residence hall. Her momís
forest green minivan and her dadís brick red pick-up truck followed closely behind. Shelbyís family thought she was crazy for bringing three carloads of belongings to college, but she insisted that everything
would fit into her dorm room. She needed the three-foot tall teddy bear her boyfriend Todd won for her at the carnival in July. After all, what if she had a bad day and the only thing that could comfort her was
the teddy bear? She needed her floor-length navy blue evening gown. What if there was a dance on campus or a major red carpet event? She needed her skiing equipment. What if there was a blizzard or she wanted to
test the slopes at Ski Liberty? Shelby was a "just in case" person and she was sure that if she was ever stranded on a deserted island, she would have everything she needed.
Just as Shelby stepped out of her Beetle and her black Converse hit the pavement, a swarm of peer mentors, upperclassmen who help during freshman move-in day and orientation, hurried to
her car like children running after an ice cream truck. Shelby looked back at her parentsí vehicles. Peer mentors were asking them what room she would be staying in.
"Shel, whatís your room number?" Shelbyís mom called out.
"MacCaffrey 315," Shelby shouted back. She felt her stomach twisting like an Auntie Annís pretzel. Suddenly, it hit her. She would not be going back to her little house in Baltimore until
Fall break. She would not be able to eat her momís homemade lasagna and chicken cacciatore. She would need to make friends and learn to make her own decisions. Was she ready? It didnít matter Ė the time had come
and if she didnít get rolling, there would be a line of overstuffed cars and minivans snaking from the Terrace to Route 15.
When she popped the trunk of her Beetle, peer mentors grabbed her colorful duffel bags, cardboard boxes, milk crates, and Target bags filled with school supplies. She could not believe
that the peer mentors were hauling all of her "necessities" up the elevator and to her room. Shelby was thankful for their assistance, especially since she was out of shape after spending the summer laying around
poolside and eating too many egg custard snowballs. She never would have been able to haul her TV and stereo into Mac 315. After a mere ten minutes, the peer mentors, all dressed alike in their blue shirts and
khaki shorts, managed to clear all of her belongings out of the family vehicles. The only item Shelby needed to carry to the entrance of MacCaffrey was her purple purse.
When Shelby entered the MacCaffrey lounge, flanked by her mom and dad, her brother, Sam, and her sisters, Sienna and Salome, her brown eyes shifted from the TV to the vending machines, to
the PacMan game in the corner. PacMan reminded her of the game in her eye doctorís office. She and her brother loved playing that old-school game while they were waiting to get their eyes checked.
"Hey, Shel, Pac-Man tournament with Sienna and Salome after you get all of your stuff moved in?" Sam asked, with child-like excitement.
"Of course, Sam!" Shelby exclaimed. She knew that her brother may be fifteen years old and a self-proclaimed tough guy, but she knew he would miss her while she was away at school. After
all, why else had he wanted to go to the mall with her a few days ago? He hated shopping and would much rather pump some iron in the basement than go to a mall where Ė God forbid Ė he would need to try on
Shelby and her family packed into the elevator. She was excited that the Terrace was recently renovated and had an elevator so she would not need to run up and down three flights of stairs
fifty million times a day. Shelby knew that the elevator would probably further prevent her from escaping the "freshman 15," but she was sure she would get enough exercise running to class every day. Shelby knew
that she would start off getting to class ten minutes early and as the days went by, she would find herself arriving later and later. She could picture herself wearing a path in the Mountís green grass from
constantly running to class. Maybe she should have invested in a better pair of running shoes than Converse. "Darn," she thought to herself, "I may have packed three vehicles full of belongings, but I still
forgot something: a pair of Nikes."
When Shelby stepped out of the elevator, the third floor of MacCaffrey was bustling with frantic parents and their energetic college students. The hallway was lined with boxes, bags,
crates, duffel bags, and sporting equipment. Voices swirled in and out of the open doorways.
"Geez, Tammy, did you bring enough clothing? Itís not all going to fit in this little closet!"
"Do you want to go to the bookstore to pick up your books?"
"Iím hungry. Letís see what theyíre serving in Patriot Hall."
"Come on, Mom. Stop crying. Iíll see you Family Weekend."
Shelby walked down the crowded hallway, her eyes searching for room 315. After what seemed like an eternity, she found the room and put her small golden key in the lock. When she opened
the door, a girl with curly brown hair wearing a Jason Aldean T-shirt sat on the bed on the left side of the room. "Hi, Iím Natasha," the girl said with a sweet smile.
"Hey, Iím Shelby." Shelby walked over to Natasha and shook her hand. Shaking hands seemed like the appropriate gesture. She must have seen about a dozen people shaking hands throughout the
Mountís campus. This was the friendly vibe that made her choose the small liberal arts college on Emmitsburgís mountainside as the place that would be her home for the next four years.
"So, I see youíre a country fan," Shelby told Natasha.
"Yep, ever since elementary school," Natasha said. "Iím a down home country gal. I grew up on a farm and I have my cowgirl boots packed away in the closet."
"Thatís awesome! I love country music too, but so many of my friends back home donít like country. They think that Iím weird because I live in the city, but love all things country."
Shelby could tell that she would get along fine with her roommate. Sure, she had only known Natasha for thirty-five seconds, but she could tell a nice person when she saw one. And Natasha seemed to fit the mold
"Need any help moving anything?" Natasha said. "My family already left. Theyíre early birds and had me move in at 10 oíclock this morning."
"Thatís ok. You relax," Shelby said. "Thatís why I brought my entire family to help me move in." Shelbyís mom, dad, brother, and sisters filed into the room and introduced themselves.
There was barely enough room for them to move around.
"Shelby, youíre not going to fit all of your stuff in this room," Sienna said, matter-of-factly. "You need to decide what you want us to bring home. Iím sure you donít need all of those
Shelby knew that her sister was up to no good. Sienna just wanted to watch her DVDs with Salome while she was away. "Sienna, I NEED all of this stuff! I canít live without it! Do you want
me calling you everyday telling you to mail me all of my necessities? Can you imagine what that would cost in postage?"
"Sienna, I think Shelbyís right," Natasha said. "She might need all of this stuff because you never know when there will be a major snowstorm or a red carpet event. Plus, I didnít bring a
lot of belongings, so Shelby can use the leftover space."
"At last, someone who thinks like me," Shelby thought to herself. Nonetheless, Shelby knew that she had to send some of her belongings back home. She had somehow forgotten that her dorm
room would not be the size of the MGM Grand.
Shelby began to sort through her boxes and bags. She decided she could do without her stereo, tennis raquets, exercise ball, evening gown, and knick-knacks. With each item that she placed
in the "Home to Baltimore" pile, she felt herself slowly detaching from her hometown and all things familiar. Emmitsburg would be her new hometown and Mount St. Maryís would be her new home. A feeling of comfort
cascaded throughout her body.
Shelby unpacked a duffel bag. She placed two picture frames on her desk. One frame held a picture of her and her family from their trip to the Florida Keys. The other frame held the prom
picture of her and Todd. She wished he could have been there to help her move in, but he had a family reunion to attend in Alabama. She took out a third picture frame from her duffel bag. This frame did not have
a picture in it yet. It would be her college frame. She could not wait to fill it with a picture from her first semester at the Mount.
"Hey, Shel, let me take a picture of you and your new roommate," Shelbyís dad said, whipping out his small silver digital camera. "Ahh, parents," Shelby thought to herself, "They always
find a reason to take pictures."
Shelby stood next to Natasha, looked into the camera, and smiled. This might be the picture to fill that empty frame. This would mark her first day of college, a new beginning. A change
would definitely do her good.
Chelsea was the 2010 recipient of the Mountís William Heath Creative Writing Award
Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski