Pepper tears up for the umpteenth time today as Morgan sets down the photo of Morgan, Tony, and herself from Morgan’s graduation day on her dresser that Tony had moved over next to her bed to double as a bedside table. “I can’t believe you’re all grown up.”
Morgan laughs sympathetically, looking over at her Mom. She walks over to where her Mom sat on her bed and hugs her. “If it makes you feel any better, I can’t believe it either.”
“I’m so proud of you, Mo,” she says.
“Me too,” Tony says after he finished moving Morgan’s desk to where she and him decided was best a few moments before.
“Thank you,” Morgan says with a small smile as she wriggles out of her Mom’s hug. She walks back over to her dresser and sets down a picture frame with a photo of her and Sofia from the prom night where Morgan decided she much prefers wearing suits over dresses next to the photo from her graduation.
She looks at her half empty suitcase and grimaces.
“What can I do?” Tony asks.
“I think I forgot to bring in the bag with my sheets from the car,” Morgan answers.
“I’ll go get it for you,” he says and is about to walk out when—
“You sure? The parking garage is a bit far.”
“You need your sheets to sleep tonight, right?” he questions with a raised brow.
“Right, yeah. Sorry,” Morgan answers.
Tony leaves the room.
“So, have you met your roommate yet?” Pepper asks. “Mia’s her name, right?”
“Yeah, she came by when you and Dad went to get takeout earlier. Said that she couldn’t move in today due to a family thing but would tomorrow,” Morgan answers. “They’re sweet. But their name is Maya, not Mia.”
“Oh, sorry.” Pepper laughs, embarrassed. “What’s Maya’s major?”
“Her major is in neuroscience,” Morgan recalls. “But she said she might change it to theater arts.”
It’s ten PM when Pepper and Tony finish helping Morgan move into her dorm at Keeney Quad at Brown University.
She hugs both of her parents at the same time and is the last to let go of the three. She didn’t realize how hard this would be until it was actually time to say goodbye.
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this,” she admits after hesitantly letting go.
“Oh, baby, you’re crying,” Pepper says, sympathetically.
“I am?” Morgan asks before wiping under her eyes with her hands. “Oh, yep. I guess so.” She sits on her bed and looks at her hands in her lap. “I just… I really don’t know how I’m supposed to do this. I-I can’t do this.”
“You can't do what?” Tony asks as he takes a seat next to her on the bed.
“Move away… I mean, I’m sure Maya’s nice and all… but this place is two hours away from home a-and I can’t go home every weekend like I could at Woodvale a-and I wish that Yale had an education program so I-I could go home whenever I want but they don’t… What if I don’t meet anyone or if everyone hates me or if I can’t even find my classes? You guys probably think I am the most pathetic person to ever exist—”
Tony quietly shushes her in an attempt to calm her. “No, you aren’t pathetic. C’mere, kid.”
Morgan falls into her father’s arms and rests the back of her head on his chest.
“Being homesick is a part of growing up,” Pepper adds as she carefully gets up on her daughter’s bed on the other side of her. “It’s normal… makes you human. I felt it, both when I moved to Phillips and Harvard… even when you and I finally moved to our own place.”
“Great, you haven’t even left yet and I’m already homesick,” Morgan grumbles.
“That’s okay,” Tony assures.
“I mean, it was like as soon as you guys were hugging me ‘goodbye’ the only thing I could think of was how much I still want my Mama… and Dad,” she says. “I haven’t thought that since I was maybe five!”
“That’s a natural feeling to have,” Pepper says. “I promise you.”
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this. I’m an adult, I shouldn’t be this scared to go to college,” Morgan cries. “I can’t do this!”
“Yes you can,” Tony disagrees. “It’s going to be hard, I’m not going to lie and say it’s going to be easy… because it’s not. But I know you can do it. You’re gonna take it one step at a time… and eventually, that philosophy’s gonna take you all the way to Graduation Day. That’s what got me through my MIT days, even though what I was experiencing wasn’t homesickness.”
“If you get through your first year… or even semester, and it’s just too hard right now… you can take a break and come home. Start back later. Maybe a gap year—or semester—is what you need. But right now, your Mom and I really want you to try to get through at least the first semester and see how you feel. That’s the good thing about college. It’s always there. You don’t have to finish your degree in four years. I mean, your Mom is considering applying again to finish her business degree after having to drop out nineteen years ago. Online, of course… but…”
“You are?” Morgan asks, weakly smiling.
“I’m thinking about it… probably after the baby comes and I get used to taking care of an infant again.” Pepper nods.
“That’s great, Mom!” Morgan says. “I’m really proud of you.”
“Thank you… but back to you, if you have to count down the days to breaks every semester, that’s okay, too,” Pepper adds on. “Whatever gets you through.”
“Also, about that friend comment you made… just say hello and be who you are,” Tony says. “You’ll find your people.”
Morgan is about to answer him, but she involuntarily yawns.
“Are you tired?” Pepper asks. “You need some sleep.”
She whines quietly.
“What do you think it’s gonna take you to get some sleep, hm?” Tony asks. “Are we gonna have to queue up some piano music, dim the lights, and tuck you in like you're a five-year-old?”
“Yeah?” he asks.
She looks over at him and nods.
“Okay,” Tony says, trying hard not to laugh—she could tell. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
About fifteen minutes later, Morgan stops fighting off sleep as the piano songs play softly near her ear and she hears her dorm room door quietly close after footsteps come before.