As many of you know, my older son is a senior in high school and as such, we have been going through the college search process. While it has afforded me the opportunity to get a bit closer to my son, it has also enabled me to see where I have failed (at times drastically) as a parent.
My son can not make a decision that would literally save his life. Or someone else’s life. Or even a decision as to what he might like to order for dinner. Or which socks to wear.
My wife says he’s just a teenager.
While I feel I have utterly failed as a parent to present to the world a critical thinker who can be an element of change in a stagnant and polarized society.
Thus, the college selection process has been, well, rather difficult since he really did not have many criteria other than “not too big, not too small, and not in Texas.” He never iterated what “too big” or “too small” meant, nor did he ever give a compelling reason why he wanted to leave the state.
While on the surface, I understood his desire to get out of Dodge. When I was in his position, in a house with a newly divorced mother and a distant, even detached father, I realized that I needed to get away from my midwestern moors and sail for a more stable harbor (I ended up in Maine, which was quite different—and a thousand miles away from my childhood home in Michigan).
Why does he feel the need to get away? Right. I better not go there.
I, on the other hand, had only one criterion: he could not select any school that he had not visited–he had to at least step his rather large size 14 foot on campus before we would commit to sending a ridiculous amount of money to the institution.
We had made visited a few colleges in the fall of 2019 along the East Coast and the original plan was to take a few more trips to the Midwest and West Coast over the summer and into the fall to help him select to which schools he might like to apply.
It’s funny what a global pandemic can do to your plans.
So, instead, we waited until he heard what schools accepted him and then we would visit those, hoping that something, anything, would light even the smallest of flames under his rather apathetic carcass and get him to make a decision. But time was short. Acceptance letters went out in April and he had to make his choice by May 1st.
Being somewhat of a realist, I did not have high hopes that our series of trips would result in any sense of firm understanding of the colleges we were to visit, but I did think that it would enable him to at least eliminate a few from the long list of schools where he had applied, whittling his options down to a scant few, making the choice somewhat easier.
Or at least handing him a silver dollar and teaching him how to flip it.
Our first trip was to Austin, the Texas State Capitol and home to the University of Texas. We had been able to convince him to apply to perhaps the premier public university in the state despite his steadfast “Anywhere but Texas” stance and I had high hopes that he would be swayed by the city of Austin, which is an incredibly cool town.
A few weeks ago, after learning of his acceptance to UT, we hopped in the Prius and drove west.
This was our first visit since COVID hit and it was weird–there were virtually no kids on campus. Like none. Zero. We might have seen a handful total on a campus that usually has around 40 thousand undergraduates. So yeah, weird.
Surprisingly, perhaps, he really liked the campus which was not nearly as big as I had imagined (I have spent some time in Austin, but had never been to the campus, really) and he really liked Austin, which firmly put the University of Texas into the “maybe” list.
As for finding a decent bottle of wine at UT/Austin? That is not difficult to do at all. After a minimal amount of research, I settled on CRÚ, a wine bar with several locations in Texas (as well as one in Denver, Lexington, KY, and a couple in Atlanta). There, I had a lovely bottle of Flowers Chardonnay, which paired fabulously with my scallops.
2017 Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Surprisingly golden in the glass, but no other signs of oxidation, and plenty of aromas of lemon curd, white flower, yellow delicious apple, even some tropical notes, and certainly some oak (but far from over-powering). The palate is pretty much what one would expect from one of the leading producers of California Chardonnay: rich, dense fruit, multiple layers of depth, and touches of butter and oak. While this is not the oaky butter-bomb that Chards from California certainly used to be, it does not abandon its heritage altogether. Instead, that rich fruit and touches of butter and oak are in a lovely balance with the acidity and minerality. Lovely. Excellent. 92 Points.