One of the strangest things to do in your mid-to-late 40s is to take your children on a tour of college campuses. What makes it so weird? Well.... even though it's been 30 years since I started my freshman year at the University of Colorado... I still remember (like it was yesterday) asking my dad to pull over at the scenic overlook just outside of Boulder so I could breathe in the rolling hillside of wildflowers before we drove in to that magnificent campus. Seriously. The passage of time is a cruel joke. Thirty. Stinking. Years. Wow.
So Joe, Michael, Jack and I drove 9 hours into Columbia, South Carolina last Wednesday for our first stop, the University of South Carolina. Talk about a pretty school. The picture I'm sharing with you is of the insanely awesome student rec complex that nearly had my face melting off, it was so out of this world. (I'll spare you snapshots of the full size outdoor pool, beach volleyball court and other ridiculous amenities (including FREE laundry). Grrr!
Going to school at USC was Michael's first option. Clemson was next. We drove from Columbia to Clemson, South Carolina and toured there the next day. What a lovely place. I heard Michael gasp as we drove by Death Valley, the school's enormous football stadium. If I closed my eyes I could hear 80,000 people (all wearing my favorite color, of course) screaming for their team on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon. Chills.
Final stop? Virginia Tech. I had no idea what to expect as we pulled into the darling town of Blacksburg, Virginia, but as the sun started dipping in the sky we did a loop around the university's monstrous campus and stumbled upon the VT women's softball team taking on Notre Dame. Michael and Jack hopped out and I snapped a quick picture outside their football stadium (where I'm pretty sure Michael was started to stand on his tip-toes to look even taller than Jack. Boys.)
Virginia Tech's buildings were a cross between Hogwart's castles and some of the coolest environmental engineering I've ever seen, with remarkable stone work, sprawling lawns and magnolia trees that were just started to blossom. Wow.
We could smell spring in the air at all three campuses as I watched Michael's head swirl with the possibilities. It's HIS choice, after all.
After all the tours were wrapped up, we hit the road and drove through the West Virginia mountains on our way back to Pittsburgh. The challenge for Joe and me will be to keep our mouths shut. This has to be Michael's call, not ours. We have to trust that all of the lessons we've tried to teach him will stick... and that when he comes back home to us at Thanksgiving break... he'll have a better understanding of how truly blessed his life has been. It is that realization that sparks a flame, even in a young person, to give back. To make a difference. To leave a positive and lasting impact on the world. I can't wait to watch my oldest son's spark grow into an inferno.