Moving In, Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up

The graduation finish line is just 3 days away, but not quite here yet…  Yesterday, though, was bittersweet! Memories came flooding in as I moved out of my second home of the past four years, Cypress Hall at the University of Florida, in the midst of COVID-19… Eerily quiet compared to the activity of move-in during the Fall of 2016…but still My Home. Cypress Hall was just a year young as I moved all my star-lit hanging decorations, an unrealistic amount of college clothes, and a cute teal retro refrigerator bought with high school grad money into UF’s newest living space in a private space. Most students don’t stay in a residence hall for four years, but the reason I came to Cypress was the reason I stayed… it’s one of the most accommodating and innovative residence halls for students with mobility issues in the country. Students actually come here from all over the world!  Being a chair user who is also very social, and as someone who hires Personal Care Assistants to help me, Cypress Hall made the transition to college a lot easier. As fate would have it, I met the Vice President of CPPI at Disney Springs, the construction company that planned and built Cypress, and was soon able to offer his management team a guided walk-through of what it was like to actually live in the space they designed! With a firm like CPPI and a University that is committed to exceeding the required ADA laws, students like me are able to have the independence that we need and deserve while attending college.   

I was lucky enough to be the first person to move into the corner room looking over 13th Street and Museum Road, a major crossroads of college life at the southeastern entrance to the University…entertaining to peek out at 1am in the morning… or across at Sorority Row…or cursing the band practicing at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning…or across from Norman Field for tailgating.  Cypress Hall was more than just a dorm,  it gave me a sense of community, full of like-minded,  smart, competitive, adventurous individuals who I came to know and love. What people from the outside might not know is that more often than not, we spent most nights, trying to squeeze 8 wheelchairs and others into the smallish kitchen. Then we would roast each other over things that a PWD would only be allowed to say to another PWD… oh to be a fly on that wall! Some of those conversations led to wheelchair races in the hall and even a spontaneous trip to McDonald’s at midnight on foot/wheel! I’m pretty sure we got more than a few puzzling glances that night. 

We made life happen there, with advocacy, and successes and hopes and dreams, and challenges met head-on that most students would never face. Home is home, and it’s always hard to say good-bye, especially since there was no one left to say good-bye to. But we will meet again, and remember Cypress Hall. And yes, I turned out the lights…

2 thoughts on “Moving In, Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up

  1. Hey Delaina,

    So happy for your accomplishment! You are definitely an inspiration to me and so many others. Would you mind if I post your blog on The Arc of Florida facebook page? I think many people need some hope right now and you certainly give it in massive doses! Take care and be safe!

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