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babysitting

Another college tour, another favor. This time it was an old schoolmate, George and his parents who were taking the official tour. I was going to babysit his little sister Mary (5) while they walked around. It was good to see someone from home and sad in a way. For a moment, I had a tugging feeling, like there was a hook deep inside me and the reel was back home. When I first saw George I remembered a time, in 10th grade, before COVID. I was leaving school early and waiting to be picked up. Twenty track boys, fresh from their daily run, were lounging, seductively around. George, in particular, in a pose rather like Michelangelo’s Adam. “OMG!” I remember thinking at the time. I smiled at that long-ago tableau. “What?” George asked, he was watching me. “Nothing,” I smiled, “Just looking forward to babysitting” Mary and I exercised to a video, had a pizza delivered and colored - crayons aren’t easy to find in the modern college environment so we used high-lighters to create delicate, watercolor-like masterpieces. As we drew, Mary said, off-handedly, “You’re really nice,” as if the nature of my character had been in some dispute. Still, I still felt warmly complemented. When the tour was over, we were walking up science hill toward their car and the sun was declining to sunset. “How do you like it,” George asked, confidentially, head lowered, voice low enough not to be overheard by his parents who were walking a few yards behind us with Mary. “There’s a LOT of reading,” I said, shruggingly. “but I’m keeping up.” Last year I was a junior, this year I’m in college. It seemed absurd. How do you conjure a vision for someone of what college would be like, when college experiences are so individual? The writer's dilemma, interpreted by a babysitter. As we reached their car, the caroling bells started ringing (5pm) from Harkness Tower. It was the perfect send-off. Again I felt the pull of homesickness but my phone plinked and the emotion didn’t even last as long as dusk.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021




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