As we near the end of the year, I find myself thinking about crossroads. The three things that I’ve thought about the most this year are Clay Aiken, the election and my own life (not necessarily in that order).
The country is obviously at a huge crossroads as we face the toughest economic time in decades and all eyes on the incoming administration to find the fix, sooner rather than later. I have confidence in his abilities but it's quite a mess he's been handed. I used to check the market once or twice a day, now I check it once or twice an hour. My kids' 529 accounts are worth about $5.29. The market will come back, you say? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except we needed that money in about 9 months.
Yes, I’m focusing on 529 accounts as this is a crossroads in our family too. My son is now in high school and one morning this summer, he woke up taller than I am. I’m caught in the vortex of my daughter’s senior year. In the chaos and complexity of common application, recommendations, deadlines, college tours, FAFSA and a mountain of paperwork, there is the real human emotion of preparing your child to leave you. While my daughter looks at a dorm to see how big the room is, I look and see how happy the buzz is in the hallway. How has the time flashed by so quickly that we went from “did you pick up your dolls and put them away” to “did you submit your college essay today” in what seems like 3 months. This is a crossroad that I thought I was prepared for but in reality, I’m distracting myself with researching scholarships so that I don’t notice I’m blinking back tears.
But, sometimes crossroads happen when you least expect them. When your company goes from a record year to hanging on for dear life. When so many of your friends leave voluntarily or otherwise because of it. When the CEO tells you he can’t afford your position but doesn’t want to lose you so you accept a compromise that is far, far less than you are worth but leaves you with free days during the week. When preparing all the complexities of your daughter (and one of her friend’s) college applications and timelines makes you realize you’re damn good at this and maybe this could be a business. When you turn those unexpected free days into productive days and the next thing you know you’re incorporated with a business of your own ready to go in less than a month. When maybe, just maybe, this crossroad was just waiting for the right moment to take a deep breath and turn left with eyes wide open. When friends, family, your banker and even your doctor tells you they haven’t seen your eyes sparkle the way they do when you talk about your new business, you tell them they haven’t seen you before a Clay Aiken concert.
Ah, Clay. This has been a crossroad year for you too. You opened up a new chapter of your career by starring in a Tony Award winning comedy-musical that showed you can act, dance and as one of your great reviews said “handle supremely silly”. You bared your soul in an album that is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Your longing for a child provided strength to be true to yourself completely for the first time in your life. You faced your crossroad in a more public way than most of us and yet it is visible to those of us that love you that the road you chose has made you free. You are defined now not only as singer, actor, entertainer, and philanthropist. You are a father.
Hold him tight,Clay. Pretty soon you’ll be blinking back tears searching for scholarships too.