The end of 1993 was rough on Judy Parr. She had lived in Alabama her entire life and here she stood, late one night, on the platform of an Atlanta train station.
As a young magazine intern, I lived in a women's residence hall on Gramercy Park, the only private park in Manhattan.
The train began rolling forward slowly as she waved a teary goodbye to her 22-year-old daughter, who peered out a window and waved back. Then the train picked up speed and she ran alongside it until their gazes parted.
I was that daughter, leaving, like some character in a 1950s novel, for New York City. I had a navy Samsonite bag in the seat next to me, my only other possession the belief that I was on the cusp of something wonderful.
Now that I am 20 years older, and a mother myself, I can empathize with how my mother must have felt on that night long ago. Stella is only 9 months old and I already tell her that I am following her to college.
Furthermore, I have finally reached the age myself where I understand how young 22 truly is. Looking back at my younger self, leaving my mother on a train platform, I think, "You were so incredibly naive."
There was one saving grace as far as my mother's nerves were concerned: I moved into Parkside Evangeline Residence for Women, one of the last dormitories for women in the city. Holdovers from a gentler age, such residences were created in the early part of the 20th century as safe homes for single young women.
The Parkside, which was built in 1927, had an enviable address: 18 Gramercy Park South. Dozens of Gilded Age mansions dotted the tree-lined streets of this historic district, which carried with it the whiff of elegance and exclusivity.