commitment to his roommates. My daughter had registered for a pretty
good fall schedule and was now considering graduating a semester early,
having realized how close she was to finishing school. She wasn’t sure if
she’d need shoulder surgery—and then what of her work for summer?
Shoulder surgery would mean no raft guiding. And she had an offer to
float the Grand Canyon with a friend late in summer; she worried the
trip would jeopardize her job.
I had my answers: Register for fall classes. Don’t take time from a
summer job to float the Grand Canyon. Come home so I can accompany
you to a surgeon’s office.
But they did not ask my advice, which I would have so freely offered.
Rather, as my son put it, they were calling to inform me of the possibilities. There was, from both of them, a different tone. My son said,
“You’re just going to have to let me figure this out my own way.” For what
seemed the first time in the children’s lives, I became quiet. My son’s
comment—“Not to be disrespectful, but I am not asking your permission, just informing you of the possibilities”—shocked me every time I
Ginzburg identifies a pivotal time in early adulthood when the world
opens up—a moment my children seemed to be experiencing:
All our life we have only known how to be masters and servants: but in
that secret moment of ours, in our moment of perfect equilibrium, we
have realized that there is no real authority or servitude on the earth.
And so it is that now as we turn to that secret moment we look at oth-
ers to see whether they have lived through an identical moment, or
whether they are still far away from it; it is this that we have to know. It
is the highest moment in the life of a human being and it is necessary
that we stand with others whose eyes are fixed on the highest moment
of their destiny.
Unexpectedly, it snowed a bit, and to keep the chickens warm, I turned
the coop lightbulb on and placed a tarp over the top of the coop to retain
heat. The snow melted quickly, and the chickens seemed peeved rather
than cold, although they did huddle together, their terrible, scaly alligator feet curled around the roosting bar. There was little I could do for
them; they couldn’t come back in the house. I cleaned their enclosure,
made sure their feed was dry and the water clean, and then I went back
inside my house and waited to see what the children would decide.