We leave the house a couple hours before dawn and he eases the front seat back to catch a few more hours’ sleep before his final college audition. No pressure on this one: He’s already locked down a spot at his first choice, so this is more of an exercise in due diligence than anything else, a fun little road trip not completely spoiled by the soft and steady rain.

It’s just the two of us, and just like every time we do this, I think back to my own senior year of high school, the series of decisions that began back then and brought me to where I am now.

Considering the lack of effort I put into my own grades and test scores, the half-assery I employed in my college search and the varying levels of ignorance under which I unknowingly operated through the years, it all turned out pretty good.

In Greenville, he breezes through the oral and written exams, then changes clothes in the car and performs for a panel of professors with fancy degrees: Yale, Julliard. That, he says, went pretty well, too.

And there’s more: The dorms are right near the school of music, and the program he’s interested in has become nationally recognized, and it’s not really all that far away after all, is it?

We eat lunch at the bar at Christie’s Euro Café, and over plates of barbecue hash and a ridiculous sandwich called the “Stoner,” I recognize something in his eyes: This is a decision that bears revisiting.

“You’re having second thoughts?” I ask him.

He nods solemnly, like he always does. He doesn’t talk much.

It’s rare to catch a teenager at the point of decision like this, and even more rare to be able to exert any influence over it. But it’s not my place in this kid’s life. Not anymore.

“Sounds to me like more reporting is needed,” I say, something I repeat in the newsroom on a weekly basis, though it’s the first time I’ve used it on him. “Let me know what you find out.”

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