Had the last couple of days off. My oldest is home for spring break and I wanted to be home so I could hang out with her. It’s not like I had two days of fun and exciting activities planned or anything, but I was at least here and not at work. Thursday she went with me and got groceries after I’d spent the morning cleaning the house(I know, exciting.) Before we went back home we stopped at the Light Rail Cafe in Winona Lake for a shot of afternoon caffeine and a fresh-baked good(I had a cheddar ‘n chive scone, and she had a cookie.) It may not have been the mall or some cozy old bookstore, but it wasn’t bad.
Yesterday was a trip to Manchester University for a preview day. We’ve been on the hunt for a college that’ll be a good fit for her since last May. She’s visited Indiana University, Purdue University, Depauw University, Ball State University, and now Manchester. Up to yesterday she had whittled the list down to Depauw and Manchester. She was accepted by all the above, but Indiana, Purdue, and Ball State were just too big. You’re a number with dollar signs all over you at those schools. Great schools, but they don’t need to wow you with scholarship money to get people to apply, so they’re not. Since my wife and I aren’t independently wealthy and have two more kids that will be going to college in the next 5 years, money does matter. My daughter(as will all our kids) will be paying for a good portion of their education through scholarships, grants, and financial aid. We will help, but I’m not going into hock paying for university. We’ll still have a dog at home that needs money for treats and squeaky foxes. He can’t go without.
Anyways, after our trip yesterday I do believe Depauw will be her pick. She loved Depauw when she visited. She was there just last weekend for an interview to get into their Media Fellows program. She said that the campus just felt like home to her. It’s small, but not too small. The’re geared towards academics and not athletics. Plus they offer Russian, which she’s been taking the last two years. I think it’s a right fit for her. They’re also offering her a very large sum in the form of scholarship money to come to their school. It’s a very expensive place to go to school, but being a private college they have lots of money to offer to students if they really want them to attend school there. They must really want our daughter, that’s all I’ll say.
So she may not have been wowed by Manchester, but her eyes were definitely opened to how much she really liked Depauw.
After the preview day we made our way east and hit Half Price Books in Fort Wayne. Wasn’t planning on buying anything but I couldn’t pass up Yaz’ Upstairs at Eric’s for $3 and a brand new copy of Built to Spill’s Ancient Melodies of the Future for $15. Bought my daughter a couple books and then we were on our way home.
I’m still trying to comprehend where the last 17 years have gone. I don’t feel like a 44 year old guy who has a 17 year old daughter getting ready to go to college. I feel more like a 30 year old guy who maybe figured out what life is all about and still has plenty of time to bestow that wisdom on his young children. I guess I can just be thankful that I didn’t screw up too badly in the growing process. My kids respect me and love me despite the faults they never quite saw behind the facade of me pretending I knew what the hell I was doing. I don’t feel I’m pretending anymore. I haven’t been pretending for quite a few years now. I think I’ve got a handle on things. That’s usually when things go to complete shit though, right? Just when you think you found the quickest, smoothest ride to work they close the road for construction? Or just when you’ve found a work-thru the formula fails and you’re back to the drawing board? You’ve written the best song of your life only to find out you pulled the melody directly from a Loggins and Messina b-side?
That’s just defeatist talk, though. That’s the self doubt demon rising from the pit of your stomach. Pushing that thing to the side was part of growing up and moving on from the stupid days. It will occasionally pop up just to let me know he’s there waiting for me to drop the ball right before I hit the end zone, but I don’t let him rule me anymore. I’m too busy trying to keep my world moving along, keeping those I love safe, happy, and thriving. Keeping my own self constantly moving forward, engaging with the world and with art and with the written word. I want to fill my head with as much of the good stuff as I can. I feel I wasted a few years spinning my wheels in the proverbial mud, pining for things that didn’t matter. I don’t ever want to go back there. Despite wondering where the years have gone, I have no interest in getting them back. I’m not concerned about the last 17 years. I’m looking forward to the next 17 years.
When my oldest daughter and I can sit and talk about politics, the #metoo movement, literature, film, indie rock, and the absurdity of The Emoji Movie, all as we sit and wait for our tour of Manchester University to begin, I feel that I might actually know what I’m doing as a responsible parent.