|Lucille Ball during the |
|James Hetfield, Metallica guitarist|
and lead vocalist.
| Babe Ruth (left) |
with Ty Cobb (right)
I write all this because yesterday, I spent the afternoon with much of my family at a farewell barbecue for my cousin, Carlos, who is off (sadly, with all of his barbecue and meat-smoking prowess) to Loyola University in New Orleans. This was the same day my youngest brother, Nick, returned to Tampa for his senior year at the University of South Florida. So, what is perhaps the biggest regret of my life? As I'm sure you've guessed by now: Not going away for college.
Over the last several years, though, a pang of regret has resonated within me from time to time. The loudest gongs came during field trips I chaperoned to New York City and a Writer's Conference being held at Columbia University. Strolling the beautiful campus of that decorated Ivy League school, that oasis of knowledge nestled between the spires of Harlem, I wished so much to have been enrolled there. To be in my late-teens/early-twenties in New York, living, learning, would have been something to shape me in such a different fashion. I urged the high school seniors I was with to take their chances and try to leave Miami for college. I vividly remember visiting Princeton in New Jersey with my family, and even touring the campuses of Stetson and UCF with friends as a senior in high school. The opportunity was there, but I left it on the table. I chose to stay home and attend FIU. I can point to the circumstances; the uncertainty of living alone with diabetes; the would-be distance of the familial safety net; the lack of a basketball coach who pushed his players to perform at the next level. All of these things can help justify the choice, but that would be a cop-out. It comes down to cowardice. I was too scared to go.
Now, I say all this not because I'm necessarily jealous of my cousin or my brother. I say this because I am proud of them. They were able to make the decision I was unwilling to make. I had the opportunity, like so many others, but I didn't take it. I could have played basketball in college, but I was too afraid to step out of my proverbial comfort-zone. (Something, I find, that I still do to this day.) I felt that pang of regret again yesterday, wishing my cousin luck before he embarked on his journey. I know Carlos will do well in New Orleans, and not only in school or on the track field, but in life as well. He, like my brother Nick in Tampa, has a good head on his shoulders, confidence, and a superb support group back home.
I understand what Lucille Ball and James Hetfield meant when discussing regret. Like Ty Cobb said he regrets not going to college and becoming a doctor, I regret not leaving for college. But just like Ty Cobb was supposed to be one of the greatest baseball players of all-time and wouldn't have been had he gone to college, I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and I like that.