At breakfast on Saturday, he makes the announcement. It’s May, a beautiful fog-free morning in San Diego, and much too early for this kind of shit.
“I’ve got news,” he says with this huge grin on his face. “We’re moving.”
I look over at my mom who sits in front of her untouched oatmeal. She’s wearing her navy blue bathrobe with something that looks like a splotch of dried vomit on one of the sleeves.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, pouring myself a cup of coffee and wishing for a cigarette.
My dad breaks his egg yolk with a triangle of toast and rakes at it. “Okay. I wasn’t going to say anything until conditions got better, which they just did.” He breaks off a piece of yellow, dripping crust and jabs it into his mouth. “The university is terminating my contract after this semester.”
“You’re kidding,” I say.
“They told me last month,” he says.
My mother begins to pitch forward in her chair.
“But not to worry,” my father says. “I applied to several other schools and I’ve already found another position.”
“Where?” I ask.
“This is the cool part,” he says. “New England. They need a math professor and the position is tenure-track.”
“My doctors,” my mother finally says.
“There are doctors in Vermont,” he tells her.
“Vermont?” I say.
“Shinley College.” He takes a huge swig of orange juice, then adds, “But let’s keep this all within the family, okay?”
My mother begins to silently weep. My dad reaches across the table and gives her hand a couple of buddy-pats. “Diane, come on. It’ll be fine.” He pushes away from the table. “I’ll get you a Zoloft.”
I want to say, Get two, but I know sarcasm this early in the morning goes over like a bacon cheeseburger at a mosque.
My reaction to this is not that much different than that of any fairly popular, totally invested, high school junior; I want to stay exactly where we are.
In my room, I find the website for Shinley College and learn more than I want to know. It’s a farming school with less than 300 students. Its major courses of study include “Sustainable Agriculture” and “Outdoor Leadership.” Worse, the campus isn’t located near a city like Boston, or even Burlington. It’s in Orleans County, what’s referred to as the Northern Kingdom, comprised of towns with names like Irasburg, Jay, and Holland.
I go to the link which reads Off-Campus Activities and see this:
- Snowmobiling and skiing
- All-Terrain Vehicle Outings
- Hiking and Nature Walks
These are not among my favorite things. Making my way through heavy, insect-laden bush is something I’d just as soon leave to bearded men with a love for flannel shirts and lumberjacking.