It’s been 10 years since you moved out of the house. Summer 2008. Move to Whittier. Become a footballer. Begin classes. Start an adventure. On a campus. It’s 10 years later and you’ve died.
We remember your departure differently, your mom and I. She was crushed with you leaving. Every day was a departure for her and it wasn’t until she heard your voice each day that she could be reassured. The move to Whittier was an ending of you living at home and now would visit home. Living on the phone. Just a voice, not a hug. For me, leaving for Whittier was a celebration. Next steps. Move on. Go to school. Be on a campus with other students going somewhere and inventing their futures. Curious and uncertain. You had accomplished the privilege of an invite from Whittier. And best of all: play collegiate football. You were in your element and you knew it.
But it was worse, that summer of 2008. Sev left for ASU. I guess we should have thunk this whole thing through: A Bachelor’s degree in music? Great. Now what? Though exceptionally talented, her resume with this punctuation mark leaves the next sentence unknown and only an ellipsis... A trailing uncertainty. Why not go on? Get another degree. Get certified. Music therapy. Be on a campus. ASU. Besides, the weather was better. In the winter.
Somehow, my profession must have become an obsession. Higher education. Collector of degrees. Studenthood. It seemed obvious to me that you and Sev just needed to have an education. Being a student wasn’t the means. It was the end. A lovely place for learning on a campus with others.
Yesterday, I went back to work at the UO. A lovely campus and a long day. A very long day. I’m afraid, you were everywhere, so I lost focus. You appeared everywhere in people. An interminable time span since your death. An inability to bridge the chasm of people on the move and my placement adrift. Not centered and uncertain. Claiming ground that wasn’t mine to claim. Not really fitting in.
But the beauty of the day was the campus. Amazing and beautiful students all on the same piece of earth at the same time. Readying themselves for tomorrow. A kegger on Friday night. How was your summer? Sup? Have you seen Roy lately? Young women in groups about to join a sorority. Fraternity struts. U-hauls everywhere with parents in tow, now uncertain. Move in day at the dorms. Figuring a schedule of classes around the corner of a weekend. One last weekend before it gets serious. Only kind of serious. Game day on Saturday. A beautiful weekend forecast for weather which is better than the prognostication for the game with Stanford. Always a smart team and a nemesis.
Buddy: This was your delight and you would have been all over it. Somehow, we need to reach in and keep you here. With us on campus. We love you buds. We’ll be with you at the game on Saturday and hold on to your passion/obsession for football. The campus will swell and you’ll be smiling.