“Jamie you know the house is going to be much better off without you, I can’t wait to be alone. I am going to take over your room too! Only one hour until you are gone for good!!”
“Hey don’t take it too far, mom and dad are gonna praise me once I’m gone”
“Can you both help me out back there? I can’t see out the back because of all your stuff… you would think we are driving your sister to college this is absurd” Chimed in Nathan.
The family of four was snug in the car almost to their destination, the moment Nathan and Haley had been so terrified for since March 22nd. After months and months of deliberation, debate, and countless adults trying to influence his decision, he was almost to Purdue University to embark his new journey. Nathan was naturally pushing for University of Maryland, Haley wanted him to aim high and stay close to home seeing UNC and Duke as the only options, Lydia always said she wanted him as far away as possible, but deep down he knew it a façade and she never wanted him to leave, and Uncle Lucas was Jamie’s rock those past months as he navigated the college waters and was making what he believed was going to determine the rest of his life. Growing up as a Scott, the basketball pedigree was prevalent in his life and he continued his legacy at Tree Hill High, but he had know for the last four years that college hoops was not a path he wanted to pursue.
Jamie had a difficult time approaching his dad with this approximately two years earlier. They were coming home from a game in Charlottesville as Nathan said “Jamie that is going to be you one day, and I am going to do everything I can to help you get there, we should start contacting colleges as soon as we can”
“Well dad I mean I love basketball more than anyone, but I just don’t see that in my future, besides the fact that I’m barely a started on the team”
“I will do everything I can and work with you, this is something you need to do, and playing college basketball was the best experience of my life”
“Okay dad” Jamie said shyly, “I’ll keep thinking about it”
Nathan quickly had flashbacks to conversations with his own father, contemplating because he loved the game but if it wasn’t for his dad pushing him, as awful as it was, kept him working hard and so dedicated to the game. But he had to remember that his strained relationship was always second to basketball, and Jamie and him had built up such a great relationship thus far, and we wouldn’t want to do anything to do that.
They quickly brushed off the conversation, although it festered in both of their minds for months to come.
Following Jamie’s last basketball game his junior year, he was having trouble falling asleep, lots of things running through his mind. He walked downstairs for a glass of water to find his dad watching old tapes of his basketball days at Tree Hill High School.
“Son I’ve been thinking about what I said to you before about basketball, and I take it all back, although basketball is one of the best things that has ever been in my life... I want you to do whatever makes you happy, and if one last season of high school basketball is all you want, I will support you one hundred percent.”
“Dad, this is so relieving, I want to follow my dreams, but I never want to disappoint you.”
“Good to set the record straight and know that our relationship is more than basketball, and don’t you forget that.”
“Thanks dad, now show me your best game winner.”
“I was hoping you would ask… your old man has got more than one in his repertoire”
“Hungry anyone? We gotta get the last family meal in somewhere memorable” said Haley, on the cusp of tears already. The four of them slipped into a cozy booth in an iconic college town diner. “I’m jealous Jamie… you are going to have the time of your life these next four years, a bit less stressful of a college experience than your dad and I had.”
“Pops weren’t those the glory days though?” Jamie exclaimed.
“Well when I wasn’t up taking care of you all night”
“Ohh, well that one is all on you… but such a perfect child like myself must have been worth it.”
Haley became emotional again, “Although I wouldn’t suggest you model your life after ours, your dad and I are the luckiest people in the world to have two incredible children and a life we are proud of”
“Seriously Mom, you’re being too deep for all of us right now”
Nathan wanted to get in a last sensitive word, son we are so proud of you and everything you have done, soak it all in here but do not let yourself forget where you came from, Tree Hill will always be your home. But most importantly, the boilers have a decent team this year and are looking on the bubble for the tournament, so I better see you on TV at every game… except for the Maryland game, we can talk about that one later.”
“Okay dad I love basketball as much as you do, but it is only mid August may I remind you” Jamie responded.
After their meals, they loaded back into the van for the final stretch into West Lafayette. A sunny and humid midwestern day it was, they pulled up to the dorm parking lot, passing the vibrant and grassy quad on the way. Jamie’s notorious roommate was already moved in out of the way, already fitted most of the room with posters, which seemed a little much to Jamie who wanted one thing and one thing only on the wall.
“We have four people and this is our third trip back to the car, come on Jamie you don’t even have room for most of this stuff and I’m covered in sweat and would prefer to spend the next twelve hours in the car smelling decent.”
“Oh Lyd, come on lighten up”, said Jamie.
“It looks good kid, I have a good feeling you’ll have a pretty damn good year here”, Nathan declared with a sigh of relief.
Haley interrupted with, “As long as it doesn’t compete with your bedroom at home”
“Nothing ever will Mom”
“Is there anything more you need, anything we can get you?? We don’t need to leave right away.”
“Really… I am FINE… please don’t worry about me”
“Okay bud, do not be afraid to call us, anytime.”
Lydia let out the words “Love ya, have fun” followed by a hug.
Nathan and Haley exchanged parting words and hugs with their not so baby boy and could no longer hold back their tears.
Jamie let out a deep breath and sat on his bed, taking it all in. Surreal could not even begin to describe his current feelings. 824 miles from home was a lot, but he was glad he pushed himself to take this crucial step. He considered going to some freshman activities, but instead pulled out a favorite book that made him feel at home anywhere he was. An Unkindness of Ravens never failed to put a smile on his face. Before he knew it an hour had passed and his roommate walked in.
“High School basketball uniform dude… don’t be stuck in that world, and number 23, who do you think you are? Jordan?”
“Back off man it’s special to me, Tree Hill isn’t something that I want to forget”