This weekend I attended a violin recital of a teenager soon to graduate from high school. Like Clare, Matthew took lessons with Busya, and like Clare, Busya made him perform an hour-long concert as the culminating event of his six years of private instruction. Busya is a viola player with the La Crosse Symphony and a retired music professor at Viterbo College. About a year ago I took her kayaking on the Mississippi River and watched her slip on the mud as we made a short portage across an island. I was responsible for damaging the wrist of a woman whose entire reason for being is linked to mobility in her wrists. At the concert, she played a duet with Matthew, and I saw no ill effects. 

Matthew has an Asian mom and a white Wisconsinite dad. The Asian American community in La Crosse pretty much disbanded during COVID, so it was good to see many of the families at the performance. Some I hadn’t seen for two years, even though we live in the same small city. Most of the young people in attendance were four to six years behind Clare and still in high school. Their conversations were the same as the one Clare’s friends had when she was their age. They talked about music, which makes sense as they all played instruments and had just attended a concert, and they talked about what they hoped to do next. 

 The first week of April is an interesting time for high school seniors planning to go to college. By now they have heard from all of the colleges they applied to and now have a couple of weeks to commit to one of the schools that accepted them. Some got into their first choice, so the decision is easy. Others did not, so they must choose between two or three schools they like equally. In one case this weekend, a teenager likes one school and his parents strongly prefer another. I’m curious how that decision falls out. 

In spite of their age differences, Clare was friends with Matthew, so she drove up for the concert. She commented that as exciting as it was choosing a school, she does not regret that that part of her life is in the past. I said to her, “I thought you bought some GRE prep books and were studying for the grad school exam.”

“Dad,” Clare replied, “I work until 5, exercise until 7, then cook dinner. When would I study? I bought a prep book, but I haven’t opened it.”

“Good,” I thought to myself. Graduate school probably is in Clare’s future, and she is more mature at twenty-three than I was when I was her age, but I hope additional schooling isn’t soon. 

Steven Simpson