And, so, it’s back to school . . .
The day after Labor Day: it’s always been the day of packing lunches and organizing pencils, of combing cowlicks and catching buses, of searching for new classrooms and picking new desks. Friends re-met after a summer off, and teachers newly met in topics as yet un-mastered. But every few years—every six, or eight, or twelve—the first day of school is a different sort of thing. Some level of graduation lies behind us, and some level of new challenge lies ahead. For him, it’s the college thing, next. Back to school, again.
He’s off to do what he said he wanted to do: ski in college. For the last six years, he’s been a lucky kid enrolled at a noted ski academy, lucky enough to train with friends and race alongside teammates, lucky enough to watch Olympians roller skiing up and down the road at the end of his driveway, lucky enough to have legendary coaches lending their voices to every workout, lucky enough to reside in a Vermont-backroad community that values Nordies the way big cities value NBA stars.
Now, the little kid who first attempted to fill a too-big uniform has grown into a young man bursting at the seams. Now, it’s a new ski team for him: new teammates to join, new uniforms to sport, and new reputations to live up to. A new future begins here at the end of a dear and valuable past. Skiers grow up, and move on, and keep skiing. That’s the way we always hoped it would be.
He said he wanted to be a ski racer, said he wanted to stand on the podium at the Bill Koch Festival, said he wanted to qualify for Junior Nationals, said he wanted skiing to guide him to a good college. So he’s continuing to do what he said he wanted to do. That seems like a small thing, but it’s really really not, is it? How many times have I, myself, made a plan, put it into action, gotten distracted, and found myself wandering off in another direction? How many times? Nearly every time, that’s how many . . . Proud, then, that he continues on this path of his.
It’s been a meandering path, to be sure: never a straight line, never an adventure with certain outcomes, never a journey in which the eventual destinations could’ve been known beforehand. Whether groomed or fresh, it’s been a path he’s followed on good, reliable skis; that seems like as fine a start as any a parent could imagine. Lucky kid.
And, so, it’s back to school . . . lunchboxes in hand and cowlicks patted down, familiarity behind us and something unknown about to begin. All on the day after Labor Day, when an old season ends, and a new season begins.