Beginning of Summer
Terin’s interview at his first choice school went well, but he still wasn’t sure if he would be able to go there. He and his mom had gone and visited his third and fourth choice schools too, both of which he said he was willing to settle for if he didn’t get into the art program at his first choice school or if he couldn’t afford it, even after financial aid.
I got good financial aid from all three schools, but the best was from my top choice, where I got the bigger of the two music scholarships that they offered. I knew I wasn’t the only one who had gotten it, but it still made me feel good about myself. With grants and loans that I was offered through my FAFSA, it looked like I would essentially be going to college for free.
“I’m so glad you got your brains from your mother,” my dad said, kissing my head when I showed him the numbers.
Terin wasn’t as lucky. He got into the art program at his first choice school and got a lot of financial aid, but his parents were still going to have to pay a couple thousand per semester.
“I just got lucky that they’ve been putting money into a special college account since I was born,” Terin said. “I don’t think it’ll get me through four years, so I’m lucky I’m working, but without them I wouldn’t be able to go.”
“Isn’t it great that we both get to go to our first choices schools?” I asked.
“For sure,” Terin said. “We should thank our lucky stars.”
Summer came before I knew it. Terin wanted to drive down to see me, but his parents couldn’t and my dad wanted to meet them, so Dad, Jed, and I arranged a time in mid-June to go up to Minnesota.
Before then, I helped Aunt Leandra and Uncle Don prepare for Gray’s graduation party, which was going to be at their church. He was sharing the party with Rocco and Tor, while the girls Holly, Akita, and Meghan had theirs at Meghan’s church the same day. The girls’ party was in the morning so that we could all go to it, and the boys’ party was in the afternoon so that the girls could come to it.
Not all of Gray’s bootcamp friends were able to come because of their own obligations, but Israel, Pax, Deven, Amoni, and Kelsey came the day before the party and helped set up. The next day, we all spent a couple hours at the girls’ party before everyone except Gray, Rocco, and Tor left to start cooking all of the cookies and hotdogs that would be the food for the boys’ grad party.
I enjoyed getting to know Gray’s bootcamp friends. Pax took charge of the hotdogs, and even though Kelsey messed up the way he wrapped them a lot, Pax wasn’t mean about it. He just teased him a little and then reminded him how to do it. Amoni was always making jokes, Deven could talk while doing anything and getting it done well, and Israel was mostly quiet, but whenever Zeke came up, he gushed about him.
“I can’t believe he plays on a team called the ‘Rumble Ponies,’” Deven scoffed. “Who in their right mind would name a team that?”
“Even Zeke jokes about that,” Israel said. “He got me a sweatshirt, and you wouldn’t believe the looks I get when I wear it.”
“I could imagine,” Pax said. “Amoni and I never get to watch the games, but I find highlights online. Zeke is looking really good.”
“You checkin’ him out?” Amoni asked.
“I mean baseball wise, you idiot.”
“You two fight like an old married couple,” Deven said.
“That’s what you get when you live with each other.”
Everyone laughed, even me. I didn’t feel like an outsider, even though basically was.
“Gray mentioned that you’re going to college in the fall,” Israel said to me while the others talked about baseball.
“Yeah, I am. You’re in school, aren’t you?” “Yeah,” Israel said. “I study crop science. Agricultural type stuff.”
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“It’s not, you don’t have to lie,” Israel said, smiling.
“Don’t you find it interesting?” “I mean, yeah. But no one else does.”
“I think it’s cool. It’s way more important to the world than music.”
“I wouldn’t underestimate the power of music so quickly.”
“I’m not underestimating, I’m just saying that when it comes to a choice between eating and paying for a concert ticket, food always comes first.”
Israel smiled. “That’s less true for some people than you would think. But I do hope that I’ll be able to, like, make some moves on solving world hunger, you know?” He laughed before I could decide not whether or not I should.
“You never know,” I said.
“Solving world hunger goes beyond just having enough food. It’s also about transport and everything, and I don’t think one shy person could arrange all of that.”
“That’s fair,” I said. “Being shy kinda sucks.”
“You don’t really seem shy.”
“Not as shy as me, at least. I just don’t know why I can’t open up to people. I always have to be awkward for a while before I subconsciously decide that they’re okay to open up to.”
“I get that, believe me.”