NYU, Boy Bye Pt. 3

by Chris Richardson

I escaped from my desk and sought refuge in a bank of half booths along the back wall of the cafe. Above me is a hand drawn mural that speaks about providing a context for people to use their talents to the fullest.

I’m sucked in by the repetition of small tweaks and changes to a marketing flier I’m working on. Blissfully allowing the time to slip away. Absorbing the alone time and ignoring the insistent chime of the holiday music.

Brief conversations with the chaplain, nods and waves to familiar faces and quick Facebook checks provide a little distraction.

A notification pops up on my phone. It’s from Fordham University stating that a decision is ready to be viewed online. This message is not for me. It’s for my son. I have all of his emails forwarded to me so I can keep an eye on him. I’m sure he has an alternate email for things he wants to hide but if he wants to get himself in trouble, I’m going to make it as hard as possible for him.

The email reminds me that today is the 15th of December. The day when all the early decisions are being distributed. A bit of nervousness sets in.

New York University and Columbia. The top two schools he wants. He wants out of North Carolina and into a big city where he can have all the opportunities his multi-talented mindset can dream of.

The decisions are put up at three. It’s after four.

I call his cell phone. No answer.

Teenagers.

I call the house. No answer.

My just turned-14 year old and his grandmother are home but feel like the phone is an unnecessary nuisance to whatever they’re doing right now.

I need to know.

I need to know if all his work has paid off. I need to know if the work that his mother and I have put into him has paid off. This is one of the bigger fruits of our families’ labor. The anticipation is overwhelming. My new daily meditation practice hasn’t prepared me to clear my mind of this happy intrusion.

I send my younger son a message via Google Hangouts.

“Where are you?”

Five minutes later, he replies, “I’m at home. Where else would I be?”

“Is your brother home?” I ask.

Five minutes later he replies, “He’s at the J-O-B.”

He’s been working like a madman lately — open to close shifts at the Chipotle, covering the shifts of all his missing co-workers and stacking cash to feed his Kickstarter addiction.

“Did he tell you about any of his colleges? He’s supposed to find out where he got accepted today,” I probe.

“Nope, they didn’t accept him,” he replies quickly.

I’m a little broken but hopeful because I don’t have the full story yet. I question, “Who? It was a couple schools.”

“Columbia,” he fires back.

“That’s all he told you?” At this point, I’m begging for more information.

Twenty minutes later.

“Yup.”

This boy! Twenty minutes for a “yup”?

I’m still waiting for someone to invent the cyber “slap in the back of the head” so I can pop this boy. Somebody tell Zuckerberg to get on that. Call it “Poke 2.0.”

I drop a message in Google Allo for my college-bound son so I can hopefully catch him on a work break.

I finish the rest of my workday and head home.

At 5:59 p.m., I get a hangout message with a screenshot that states:

“On behalf of the admissions committee, it is my honor and privilege to share with you, that you have been admitted to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.”

Ear to ear, man. Ear to ear.

All I could muster in response was, “Yooooooooo.”

I spent the remainder of the night on a high, shouting him out on Facebook and texting my dad the good news.

I’m writing these words not only out of pride and celebration but to maintain my excitement. It’s the morning of the 16th and I still haven’t caught up with that boy to tell him how excited I am.

Among the many lessons I’m learning from this separation — and my son growing into his own life — is how to bottle my emotions for later. He needs to see my excitement the same way it happened when I first found out. This moment can’t pass until I get to hand off my excitement to him. Raw, pure and untempered.

I actually had a Huxtable moment. My boy is going to NYU.