Marolt: At least for this weekend, life is Fair
October 4, 2018
I love College Fair. I really shouldn't. Aside from opening the eyes of my children to the next level of educational possibilities in ways they never imagined and I could not have explained to them alone, it has been nothing but a source of embarrassment to me.
While I cherish the memories walking around the festive Aspen School District campus at the fair with my kids to begin in earnest that important, exciting and emotional transitional period that takes them from childhood to becoming what they are supposed to be as adults, bonding with other kids and parents going through the same thing, talking with representatives from colleges you might have considered for yourself, if you had only known, watching students' eyes light up when they discover the many things they don't know about college, it is my own shortcomings that come back to me through those distorted fun house mirrors that hang on the walls in the back of my mind.
I was there in a general way for my family at all the fairs, but my wife is the smart one and she took over when it came down to the nuts and bolts of gathering particulars about far-flung institutions of higher education and pertinent information provided in the many seminars College Fair hosts. I knew my time and place, so when the facts and circumstances became relevant and the details important, I slid into the background and helped park cars.
Now, when I say "parked cars," it is critical to emphasize that I do not mean just any cars. I mean cars for the college representatives. There are so many of them attending this event that they take up every last available space within a half-mile of our school complex. I was not careful about explaining this once and it led to me, single-handedly, causing a Pitkin County Alert.
Yes, you can cause one of these broadly broadcast warnings by twisting your ankle in the backcountry and calling for a helicopter to extricate you from the predicament, but my distress was far less conventional than that. I caused automobile gridlock in a geographic circle that encompassed the western edge of town, Aspen Highlands, and all the way out to the airport. It was worse than anything the current bridge construction is causing. If I sound like I am a slightly veiled bit proud of this, I suppose that might be true.
The mess was temporarily alleviated when Pitkin County sheriff deputies told drivers to pull off the roads and park on the shoulders so traffic could flow again. No sooner had this seemed to solve the problem than Aspen Police Department officers came through and issued parking tickets to one and all.
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C'était un gigantesque tas de merde malodorante! Pardon my French.
It was more embarrassing, but far less painful, than when I, working the chain gang for an Aspen High School appearance in the state football playoffs, set my foot in a loop in the chain at a full sprint and, when it came taut, flipped me P-tex over Oakleys on the sidelines at a critical juncture of the game in front of what was likely the largest crowd ever to pack Skier Stadium.
Yet, the aura of the fair itself and its organizers, desperate for volunteer help, always call me back. As the teary eyes and swollen heart always call to the wayward lover, we know not why.
With the excitement of College Fair, there is invariably some anxiety with students and their parents initiating the launch of this important phase of life. I recall this, now, fondly. There is no worthwhile transition from one road in a foreign land onto another that doesn't cause the stress of second-guessing. My kids are all through it. We survived. They are thriving. The thing we need to keep in mind is that, although some routes are longer than others, all roads ultimately lead to the beach or the base of a mountain. We stand in awe at either and give thanks for the journey that has fulfilled us through the accumulation of wisdom and knowledge.
I constantly reminded my kids that there are thriving and happy students at every single college, university and trade school in this world. There are dozens of the "perfect school" for everyone. All that is required is that you dig for the treasure. College Fair is not about walking away at the end of the day knowing that you have your future finally mapped out. It is all about accumulating information to prove to yourself that the possibilities for your life are many and there are way more ways to reach them than you ever imagined.
The Western Slope College Fair is this Sunday morning at our school campus. Please take the bus! Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.