Matchplay A New Adult Romance - By Dakota Madison
The Front Nine
I felt my stomach start to clench as my dad pulled into the entrance of my new home for the next four years. Let’s just call it Elite Private University (EPU, for short). There are a number of places like it in the United States. Most of the kids, who attend EPU, come from wealthy and privileged families. Most of their parents also attended the school and probably even met their spouses there. There are a handful of kids, like me, who come from middle class families but worked hard and earned scholarships to attend EPU. If it weren’t for those scholarships, most of us would probably be at Big State University instead.
I didn’t want to be nervous about starting college but the more I tried to stop myself, the more nervous I got. Ugh.
“Remember what I told you,” my dad said. “I want you to start acting like an 18 year-old again. I want you to have some fun.”
Fun. I can’t remember the last time I actually had fun. It had to be before my mom got sick. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer my junior year of high school. I’m an only child and my dad had to work full-time, so the majority of caregiving during my mom’s illness was left up to me. Most girls my age have fond memories of high school homecomings and proms; most of my memories during my last two years of high school involved hospitals and the hospice.
I turned my head and pretended to peer out the passenger side window. I didn’t want my dad to see the teardrops that had escaped down my cheek as I tried to discreetly wipe them from my face.
My mom died near the end of my senior year. She didn’t get to see me graduate from high school. I
missed not having her there, when I was making such an important life transition. It hurt that I wouldn’t have my mother with me for any of the major life events I had to yet to come.
I looked back at my dad and he gave me a warm smile. I noticed the frown lines that were now permanently etched in his face. He didn’t have them two years ago, before my mom got sick. I also noticed a few more wrinkles starting to form around his intelligent blue eyes and his jet black hair was greying at his temples. He was still a handsome man at forty-eight but he was much more weathered than he had been in his mid-forties. Dealing with my mom’s illness and death had definitely aged him.
My parents had told me many stories about how they met and fell in love in college. Dad said it was love at first sight. He knew immediately that he was going to marry my mom as soon as he saw her. They got married right after they graduated. After a lot of struggles with fertility issues, I arrived eight years later. My parents weren’t able to have any other children, so I was doted on and spoiled by both of them.
But I also bore the responsibility of every hope and dream they would ever have for their offspring and I
met every expectation they had of me. Maintaining the image of being the perfect child became much more difficult when my mom got sick. In order to take care of her and still keep my grades up, I had to give up my social life. My dad knew I didn’t have a normal high school experience, so he urged me to make up for it in college, hence the, “I want you to have fun” comment.
As we approached the freshman dorms, there were already parents and my soon-to-be classmates everywhere. There were so many boxes and pieces of dorm furniture strewn about the lawn, driveway and sidewalks; it looked like a massive yard sale.
“I may have to drop you and your stuff off and then try to find a parking space,” my dad said as his eyes darted around the brimming parking lot.
“No problem,” I agreed.
“Please wait for me,” he continued. “You over packed your boxes and I don’t want you to lift them.”
I may have gone a bit overboard packing my library of art books but I wanted to make sure I had all of them with me. Nearly all of the baby-sitting money I had ever earned when I was a kid was invested on my art book collection. Whenever my parents asked me where