And then what?

Cutting through a city park in futile hopes of finding a functioning drinking fountain, I overhear bits and pieces of a conversation between two young people I gauge to be in middle school or junior high, perhaps midway through their high school careers.

She sits atop a slope of lawn, the quintessence of neoclassical Grecian beauty, long, flowing hair the color of wheat ripening through summer, a gentle curve to what will one day be the elegant lines of her face and body.

He stands before her, at the base of the knoll, under a tree, a peasant petitioning a goddess, awkward, gangly, his features snub-nosed and stubby, tufts of hair springing unevenly from his skull, pustules of adolescence marring his face, scuffing the toe of his athletic shoe in the grass. That he has the courage to even approach such a beauty speaks volumes to the gritty determination of the male of our species.

Her voice rings out, a cry of exhaustion or desperation or passion just as I approach their tête-à-tête: “Bust my ass playing for [insert Seattle-area high school here] next year? And then what? Go to college?”

She does not finish the line of thought, so I carry it out for her, silently, in my head, as I pass by: Bust your ass through college, and then what? Go on to grad school, bust your ass there, and then what?

And then what?

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