At this time of year, high school seniors are applying for colleges, grants, and scholarships. They are answering this simple question a dozen times over from their friends, classmates, and adults: What are your plans for after graduation?
Crystel decided to apply for one college and one college only. This isn’t much of a surprise because she goes after what she wants. Always has. She doesn’t stop until she achieves her goal. She rarely alters her course. I’ve become a believer of her dreams ever since she overcame a speech disorder. At 3, she could not talk intelligibly. Juan who could understand her best often spoke for her. There came the day when she told him, “STOP.” By the time she was 7 she had graduated from speech therapy and was onto her next achievement.
When she told me that she only applied to one school, I held my breath. She didn’t have a backup plan. She submitted her college application without telling Jody and me. I thought she would have at least asked me for advice about the personal statement. After all, I am a writer. She told me that she reflected on her friend who was accepted. He’s Hispanic with a single father. I quizzed her. Did you tell them that you have two moms? Adopted? Hispanic? She kept nodding. She also said that she was Vegan. What about your Tae Kwon Do 2nd Degree Black Belt? No, she had forgotten about that.
All I could do was hope that she got accepted.
Juan on the other hand, recently told someone he was taking a gap year. Several years ago, I so strongly believed in a gap year for Juan and Crystel that I bought several books:
The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things to Do Between High School and College
Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs
Gap Year, American Style: Journeys Toward Learning, Serving, and Self-Discovery
I don’t think Juan opened a page of any of those books. Especially since I had already dropped them off at Goodwill.
Even so, he had latched onto the concept of not going to college. Not now. Maybe not at all.
For many reasons, Jody and I support Juan having a ‘gap’ year. He’s in the National Honor Society, active in Student Government and just finished his last season of Cross Country. Still, his path is not Crystel’s.
An adult recently asked Crystel, “What are you doing after graduation?” She responded, “Going to the University of Minnesota.” (She was accepted). The question was followed with, “What about Juan?” Without pausing she said, “He’s going to the basement.”
Juan is graduating from his bedroom to our finished basement. His current bedroom will convert to Jody’s home office. He will continue to work as he has since he was 14-years-old.
Crystel’s desire is to study abroad. I’m sure that will happen. Juan is looking forward to living in the basement. It has the feel of an apartment. He’ll move out when he’s ready. Until then, Jody and I will have a roommate.