My cousin Samantha is about to graduate high school; she’ll be attending Duke in the fall. Clearly she’s an idiot. Kidding. But she’s going to college in September. This is mind-blowing to think about. She’s become a real person now, eighteen going on 30, and brighter than many of the people I interview. I remember visiting the hospital the day after she was born and holding her. I remember my aunt bringing her to Schreiber to see the musicals, and for months all she would talk about was Jen or Jason or Michele or Howland (bassists are usually invisible to four-year-olds… come to think of it, we’re pretty invisible to most people). These days, when I visit them in NY, Sam and I have real conversations and real drinks. I met her boyfriend last month. Of course his name is Andrew. Nice kid.
Eighteen years. That’s a long time. I remember babysitting and changing her diapers. I remember playing with her in a swimming pool in Florida during a family vacation, teaching her how to swim. And if she has her way (which she probably will), she’s going to come to Boston this summer for a few weeks and I’m going to teach her how to drive
. I won’t do to her what my dad did to me the first time I was behind the wheel (tickling). It’s hard for me to think of her as a college kid, but what’s harder is thinking that I (and chances are from the people who read this, we) were that young and naïve and invincible and so ready for college life.
Putting it in context, when Sam was born, the number one song was “I Can’t Live Without Your Love and Affection” by Nelson. That was also the year of “Vogue”, “Opposites Attract”, and “Ice Ice Baby.” Look how far we’ve come. I enjoyed seeing her go through her music phases; there was the New Kids on the Block-esque phase of Backstreet Boys, N-Sync, and a half dozen other groups who have gone the way of the dodo (but I guarantee that the Backstreet Boys will reunite in ten years, just like NKOTB is doing now). There was the rocker phase… one of my favorite memories is of walking into their apartment and seeing Sam in a Clash t-shirt holding a guitar, trying to wrap her mind and fingers around the chords of a Who song. Hmm… that appears to have been a tangent.
So – to Sam, in your final few weeks of high school, I want to say that I love you, that I’m awfully proud of everything you’ve accomplished, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds. I don’t know how much wisdom I can share with you (I wasn’t all that bright in college, and it’s been a steady downhill ever since), but I’ll try. Make sure you pour your own drinks at the parties. You can skip a class now and then. Always use fake names when filling out credit applications so you can get free t-shirts. Don’t worry about grades too much – if you enjoy what you’re studying, you’ll do fine. Just don’t get arrested or pregnant, and you’ll be okay. And whatever you do, if you find yourself alone with a lacrosse player… run
. And if you’re actually reading this, then you need to get out more.