Reflections of a History Professor Looking Through a Telescope at 4 a.m., Part VII


You have a friend that teaches at your

daughter’s college, which is small enough

that it’s easy to know almost everyone,

and he tells you that he hears your daughter

is hanging out at the rock-climbing gym in

town and camping with a bunch of hippies

at Jamestown Crag, a climbing spot you hear

kids from your school talking about.


You can guess about the people she is climbing

with based on the slackers lazing through your

own classes: muscular girls in tank tops and

flannel shirts; barely articulate boys with baby

beards and long hair pulled back in ponytails;


and you think about those long afternoons and

weekend nights camped out at Jamestown,

where everyone goes to climb, and you imagine

the beer and pot, and wonder in whose tent

she sleeps at night,


and you hope she’s making good choices,

but you’ll never really know because she

doesn’t come home anymore, and when

she does, finally, a year before graduation,

it’s just to tell you she’s found a job teaching

rock climbing in Utah, and she’s moving there

with a guy who sits in the car listening to music,

not bothering to even come inside, and you

hope he is a good man but you know there will

never be a way for you to know. He could turn

out to be a man who uses your daughter’s ponytail

to slam her head against the wall, and there is no

way that you could ever know,

no way to save her soul,

because she has moved on and become

someone you don’t really know anymore.


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