Ten tours, ten info-sessions, five days. In the modern craze of the college search, the average student must be as thorough as possible in exploring the vast array of secondary education opportunities. Thus, in April 2007, I sacrificed my spring break of junior year to conduct a whirlwind tour of the southern college circuit. The parental units spent hours toying with Mapquest and Google Maps to determine a route which would maximize both the number of colleges visited and the amount of time spent at each college.
With this vital information carefully obtained and neatly packed into a folder and thrown into the back seat, my father and I set southwards from our Maryland abode on the journey of a spring break. Driving for several hours, my ears were overwhelmed by the deafening sound of silence. My dependency on the computer had meant limited interaction with the family, a trend exponentially exacerbated as I signed up for Facebook and Myspace. Not to with break old habits, as my father and I were forced into extended close proximity, we drove in relative silence towards the first slew of colleges.
Traversing college campuses all over North Carolina and Georgia, however, the level of conversation steadily increased until we were almost talkative. Successfully freed from my central processing unit addiction, I had the time to notice a previously unappreciated facet of my father’s humanity: his pride in my intellectual ability, his desire to see me succeed, and most conspicuous of all, his stoic acceptance of the financial burden he would have to shoulder for the next four years of my life.
Whether we were watching NCAA basketball at Applebee’s, exploring music theory and its practical application with a sailing friend, or drawing on the hospitality of my father’s frat brother, every moment spent with my father helped me understood not only who he is, but who I am because of him. As my father reminisced with his frat buddy of a life unhampered by children, the burden he had shouldered by deciding to have a child again bombarded my mind. My very existence depended on his commitment, and for years I had negated his sacrifice.
The trip, designed mainly to untangle the intricate web of available colleges, transformed into an opportunity to meet my father. Driving through the rural byways of Davidson, navigating the metropolis of Atlanta, exploring the cultural opportunities of Greensboro, I underwent a mental journey of understanding. Each mile rolling by on the odometer brought me a mile closer to my destination. What that destination was, I only realized after I had returned from more southern climes. The quest to meet my father had only just begun.
While the computer still obtains a fair amount of usage, I pay much more attention to the kind of relationship I want to have with my father. While we may not always see eye to eye, the time I spent with my father enjoying the wonderful southern weather will always be a warm memory of my adolescence. Meanwhile, I struggle to decide where I want to apply to college.
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