My twins, Bryson and Holland, applied to college this week. Bryson to Jacksonville University where he will play soccer, and Holland to Florida Atlantic University and Florida State University. I assisted, to the extent they permitted, them in writing their admissions essays, and reviewed the final products. It was a revealing process, but not in the way I intended.
Bryson essentially used me to generate some raw thoughts early in the process, and then trampled my work with a theatrical essay on his road to achievement. He glorified himself as a writer of great repute while dismissing me as a benign objectivist. Between the lines though, I was surprised to read a bit more insecurity than he would outwardly concede, though when pressed on this issue, he deftly shielded himself with a “dramatic flourish” defense.
Holland offered little at the outset of the process and was openly insecure. She pushed me to start the process while I pressed her for insight into her genuine feelings and aspirations. I assembled a draft and left the end open for “her”. She demurred and consulted her brothers. Bryson produced a draft that was over the top unusable excrement. I was pissed.
This morning I woke to a draft from Holland that was pitch perfect. She expressed herself. Wrote from the heart, and in the closing paragraph a lump developed as I read in her words the strength that I always believed was in her. I touched up a few grammatical points and sent it back with the words, “Holland, really good job. You dug in and wrote from the heart. That’s where good writing exists. Not in fake drama and bullshit. I left the last paragraph untouched because it was real. Loved it. Even got a bit choked up. Now get this application submitted and become a NOLE!”
I went all caps on the “NOLE!” for selfish reasons. I am a NOLE! This weekend, my old roommate Sarvin Patel took his family to Tallahassee for the first time to see a game and sent a bunch of pictures. We spent the weekend texting pictures and telling stories of our time in Tallahassee. It was a special time and, as time has proven, unforgettable. I wish that experience for anyone that goes to college, and especially, my guys.
As a college athlete, Bryson will have the unique experience of team sports at a high level and the ability to bond with his teammates through the demanding rigors of time management, close proximity and competitive challenge. It is something I was unable to achieve for myself and for which I am immensely proud of him.
As a college student, Holland’s journey will be different, much closer to my own, and maybe that is why I am rooting so hard for her to be a NOLE! At any campus, you will study for your degree and meet valuable friends that can influence and alter the course of your life, but for me, there is a tremendous enhancement of the experience when it is done at a school like Florida State where sports, on the national level, are so important. You never forget that time of your life. It becomes a part of you for better or worse. It is a brotherhood or sisterhood not as tightly defined as Bryson will enjoy, but eternal.
I remember leaving the stadium after beating the Gators during law school. Every Nole in the stadium chanted and chopped their way down the concourse and into the night. My only thought, other than pride, was that my Dad needed to see a game before I graduated, or he died. The following year we chanted and chopped our way out of the stadium after beating Miami’s ass. I want this for Holland. I want it for both us so that in addition to our father/daughter bond we have a bond as NOLES!
And just maybe she might have a better understanding of why her father hurls objects across the room when a lineman jumps offside on 3rd and 2, mother fucks the world with every missed tackle in space, buries every scrap of Nole clothing in the deepest corner of the closet after a 63-20 loss, or just beams with pride every weekend “we” win.