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As Long as you Love it
This is based of of how I pictured my dad growing up.
I heard my alarm go off at 6:30, again. I immediately hit the off button on my iphone and stopped that awful blaring sound. I trudged up the stairs and grabbed the toasted bagel waiting for me on the kitchen counter. There was an obvious tension between my mom and I due to the argument we had the previous night.
“Did you do those applications I told you about?” my mom asked with a shy tone, like she already knew the answer.
I responded carelesley, “Nope. Had other things to take care of.”
“Ollie, you need to start considering your future. College is coming up quicker than you know it.”
“I’ve heard you say it a million times mom, we’re not doing this again.”
Anger started to boil again as I grew more annoyed with my mom. All she does is tell me what to do. This is my future not hers, I thought.
“I’m leaving.” I said, getting up from the couch with half of my bagel in my mouth.
“Okay, bye! Love you! Have a good day at school!”
I didn’t say anything else and walked straight out the door to go to school.
I got onto the bus and walked to my normal spot on the bench in the back. I put my headphones in and closed my eyes. I always tried to rest a little more on the bus even though it just made me more tired. I thought to myself, I am so sick of this, when is it ever going to change.
Once I got into class, school wasn’t so bad. That’s how it is every day. The only reason I don’t like school is because I have to get up early and go. I always have a fun time in class. I have a lot of great friends, and I don’t actually mind learning.
The school day was nothing special. I had all my normal classes and they all went by pretty quick. All day I was waiting for math class, which I had a test in. I knew I was going to do good already, so I challenged myself to finish first, like it was a race. I ended up beating my friend by about 30 seconds.
The bell rang and I took the chilly walk back to the bus stop. Again I put my headphones in and climbed the stairs. Since I was in a good mood I gave the bus driver a smile and a nod before walking back to my spot. I almost sat right on top of them before noticing there was somebody sitting in my seat.
I stepped back and looked the man up and down. He had ski boots on, and was wrapped up in a winter coat with a headband on. There was snow all over his clothes, he had obviously been skiing hard all day and was heading home from the mountain.
I settled for the seat right next to him. He looked right at me with a smile. I awkwardly looked back and didn’t say anything. I was mad at him for thinking he could take my spot.
He looked over at me and noticed the Squaw Valley Racing Team stitching on my jacket.
“You’re a racer?” the man asked.
“Me too. Well, used to be anyways.”
“Nice.” I said, trying to sound uninterested.
He asked for my name. “I’m Ollie.”
“Nice to meet you Ollie, I’m Bo. Bo Miller.”
My eyes opened wide. I turned to my side to take another look at the man to make sure I heard him correctly. I noticed The patch with the five gold rings on his sleeve. I continued to look up to see the face of the man for the first time. Oh my god, I thought. That’s him.
“No way! I used to watch you race all the time!”
“Thanks kid.” Bo said, chuckling.
“Just get out of school?” he asked.
I took a deep sigh, “yeah.”
Bo chuckled again. “I really was just like you kid”.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Sounds like school isn’t your thing.”
“Not exactly” I said, puzzled how he could tell so easily.
Bo said “yeah me neither, all I ever wanted to do was be on that mountain” pointing his thumb behind him. “I had no business being in a classroom.”
“It’s not that I hate being in the classroom,” I explained, “I just don’t know what I am there for.”
“I never understood that either. Still don’t.” he said. “Let me tell you something. When you get to my age, none of that stuff you’re learning is gonna matter too much.”
I started paying closer attention.
“Now I spend a lot of my time thinking about what I could have done better.”
He stopped talking, obviously waiting for me to respond. In a short awkward silence I started to think about myself in the future. Would I be asking myself the same thing? I needed guidance anyways, I was pretty lost in knowing what I was going to do after high school. I decided to ask him, “So… what could you have done better?”
“Well first off I wouldn’t have eaten that damn burrito for breakfast this morning!” He said laughing. I didn’t laugh. I stared at him, waiting for him to give me any advice.
Bo noticed that I was serious. The smile dimmed on his face and he leaned back. “You know kid, there are a lot of things I could have done better. When I was your age I only remember having one focus, that was to be an Olympic ski racer.” That is one of my dreams as well.
“Bo, you were an olympic ski racer, you won silver here in 1960 right?” Bo looked surprised that I knew all of that. He grinned and said “You’re right, I did.”
“How could you have possibly done better?”
“Kid I’m going to tell you something that I wish I knew when I was your age. Life is not all about winning the Olympics.”
My stomach dropped a little. How could you not be happy with yourself for racing in the Olympics?
“So you’re saying that you wish you never raced?”
“No, no. What I’m trying to say is that I wish I didn’t take it so seriously. It was life or death for me. I never got to stop and enjoy growing up. One day Ollie you are going to wake up and be 60 years old, and you’re gonna wonder how the hell it went so fast.”
This scared me a little. I never thought about where I was going to be in 3 years, let alone 40. “What do you wish you did besides that?” I asked, fully engaged now.
Bo became more engaged too, he leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. It took him a second to think. “I wish I went to college,” he said quickly.
“I don’t think I want to go to college,” I said.
He looked at me like I was crazy. “Yes you do kid. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on some of the best years of your life.”
Now I was confused, “wait, I thought you said you had no business being in a classroom. Why would you want to spend 4 more years in a bunch of classrooms?”
“That’s not what it’s about. You gotta learn about yourself, learn what you really want to do in life. I feel like once I didn't have ski racing, I had no passion. I lost myself when I lost racing and I would not want to put that on anybody,” he said, shaking his head.
“Yeah,” I responded, still trying to process what he was saying.
The bus made the loud screeching noise it makes when it stops. I had a little panic attack because I wasn’t done learning from Bo. I looked up and thankfully we weren’t at my stop.
“Let me ask you something,” Bo said to me. “Where do you want to be when you’re my age?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” I said with no hesitation.
“There is no way you should know what you want in life at your age, kid. You got so much more to learn about yourself.” This made me feel relieved. I thought he was going to say the complete opposite.
“I truly believe that wherever life takes you, that is where you are supposed to be. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making or how big your house is.” Bo said confidently. “As long as you love it.”
A thought came to my mind. “But didn’t you love to race?”
Bo said with a conflicted face, “Not really. With all of that pressure and all of that work I put in, sometimes I wish I would have done something else.”
There was an awkward silence, and I felt bad that Bo had to live with that.
“I always loved to play the guitar. Sometimes I still do and I think that is what makes me truly happy. Maybe If I would have stuck with that I would be a little happier than I am now.”
This is actually something that I strongly believed in. I always think to myself, there is no way we are put on this earth and not find our way. I believed that nobody is lost, and everything happens for a reason. I explained that to Bo. He agreed, nodding his head. It seemed like he was thinking back over his life, looking for the important moment that led him here, now.
The bus started turning. Looking out the window I noticed that I was close to my stop. I looked back at Bo and he seemed to know that I was close to getting off.
“One more thing.” Bo said with a remorseful look on his face. “Do you love your mom kid?”
Woah, I thought. What kind of lesson is he about to give me?
“Uh… yea I guess,” I replied. Bo looked at me with a worried expression.
“I don’t know, I just feel like she always wants me to do better. I win all these races and get A's on everything and I’m just not good enough for her.”
“Well kid that’s great but that isn’t what your mom cares about the most.”
“It’s not?” I said, really confused.
“No! All she wants is to see you be happy. It’s like what we have been talking about this whole time. As long as you are a good person and you are happy, your mom will be more than pleased with you.”
“Trust me, your mom loves you,” Bo said. “I don’t even know the woman but I know that she loves you kid.” Bo said passionately.
“How do you know?”
He laughed. “Look at that jacket you have on. Did you buy that? Look at those headphones in your ears. Where did those come from?” His voice started to raise, I didn’t know how to react.
“How do you think you're such a great racer, you think you taught yourself all that? You're going home, where your mom is going to feed you and ask you about your day. She loves you Ollie.” He went on and on.
Bo’s voice started to lighten up and crack. Oh shit, I thought. Is he crying?
“I want to give you one last thing before you get off,” the bus started to shake, making this even more dramatic. “Your family should come before everything. You have to understand that anything either of your parents do or say to you is all out of love. All they want is to see you succeed.”
This all started to sink in for me as Bo finally explained why he was so passionate about this. “I never listened to my mom. I spent as much time away from home as I could. I wish that I would have listened. She always knew what was best for me.”
I was intrigued to learn more about Bo’s past. “What happened?”
“Life happened kid. Like I said, one day you’re going to wake up and be 70 years old. That means your mom is gone. Your dad too. That is why I want to tell you to learn everything you can from your folks. They are the most important people in your life.”
“I got you Bo, I know what you mean.” I said, trying to comfort him. I really did know what he meant. What he just said to me made total sense. Why would my mom ever try to get rid of me?
The bus shuddered to another stop, I looked up, and this time it was mine.
“Alright Bo,” I said. “I wanna thank you for taking my seat today, I learned a lot.”
Bo looked back at me with a smile. “Any time kid. Maybe one day I can catch one of your races,” he said, pointing at me as I stepped off the bus.
I got home and gave my mom a huge hug. “Mom, guess what!” I said.
“What is it?” She said, surprised that I actually wanted to tell her something.
“Today I met Bo Miller.”
“Wow! That’s so cool, did you guys talk?”
“Oh, you have no idea” I said, grinning.
She turned around and made eye contact with me. A guilty feeling sat down in my stomach as I looked down at the counter.
“I’m sorry mom” I blurted out.
“What? What are you sorry for, Ollie?” She said in a very concerned tone.
“I just… I’ve been a horrible son.” Starting to feel the tears in the corner of my eyes.
My mom walked over to me and put both her arms around my back.
“Ollie, you are the best son I could have ever asked for. I haven’t been the best mother either, but that's part of being a family, we need to love each other for who we are.”
I sank into my mom’s arms, feeling her hold me tighter.
“You know I love you mom, right?”
Slowly starting to cry herself she said “Yes Ollie, of course I know that. I love you too.”
When we separated she looked me in the eye and smiled.
“Man!” She exclaimed. “Bo must have really gotten to you!”