Forks in the Road

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
– Yogi Berra

A friend called out this text, which I would otherwise never had the chutzpa to write. He was lamenting how little our scattered cohort of Houstonians, he and I and a handful of others, know about each others’ lives over the past fifty years. I’ll tell you my story, he emailed, if you tell me yours. He did not set out the theme I settled on, forks in the road, bifurcations, the sequence of conscious decisions and choices I made  as I advanced through the murk, the fog of life. The casuistical angle I imposed on this writing assignment, my autobiographical pact with any readers it might have, does fit the innocent state of our cohort’s hive mind as we left high school and went out separately into the wide world under the illusion we decide anything in life. 


In April, 1963, I made a decision that would shape the rest of my life. I had managed to persuade Dad to let me attend McGill University in Montreal. Paris, my dream at seventeen, was out of reach, but McGill had accepted me and I had scrounged enough money cutting lawns and painting houses to contribute to the cost, of which tuition, in that day and age, was only a small part. Among the many applications I had sent out, one went to Beloit College, in Wisconsin, a private liberal arts college about which I was far from enthusiastic, measured alongside the exotic appeal of living in any place spelled with a Q, as in Quebec, where they spoke French besides. One afternoon before anyone else was home I collected the mail and found addressed to myself a letter from Beloit offering full tuition and much of the room and board there. I knew Dad would insist I accept this deal and give up on going to McGill, not only because this would cost the family less, but also because Wisconsin, though far way, on the distant side of Illinois, was at least in the US. All I had to do was tear up that letter and the path to Montreal was open. Obviously, I didn’t …

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