Amy’s note: this scene came after Allie’s dad had picked her up from college to bring her home to see Matthew off to his first day at The Academie. As they approached home, it dawned on Allie that they should have been planning a party to see him off. Her dad agrees and she calls home to arrange a throw-together celebration with her mom. Afterward, Allie and her dad head to the grocery store to pick up a cake, card, and party snacks in the few minutes they have before the pizza they ordered would be ready. In the grocery store, Allie’s dad sends her off to find a cake since it’s important to her that they not just have any dessert, but one with a written sentiment worthy of the occasion.

After he walked away, I realized I had no idea what it should say. “Congratulations”? But he hadn’t actually accomplished anything. Sure, he wanted to go to The Academie and was among the first to enroll, but it wasn’t like he had applied and got accepted. If he hadn’t enrolled by now, they would have come knocking on the door to enlist him.

“So long?” Ugh, it just seemed too horrible. “Good luck”? Too impersonal. I finally settled on “We’ll miss you, Matthew”. It wasn’t the perfect sentiment, but it would have to do. Hopefully mom and dad will agree. The cake lady looked at me knowingly—both when I told her what I’d like written on it and when she handed it back to me. I didn’t ask who she had heading off tomorrow. I’d guess a grandchild, but it could be anyone. It seemed everyone had someone close to them entering The Academie this week.

I met back up with my dad in the chip isle. Our cart was now loaded down with three two liters of pop, a two bags of zesty tortilla chips, and a bag of regular potato chips. With the amount of food we were acquiring for the event, you’d think we were hosting a true party, rather than the gathering of a family of five.

“We’ve only got about five minutes left before the pizza will be ready. Do we have everything?”

“Did you get a card?”

“Yeah, they had a whole section for students going off to The Academie.”

“Nice to see someone’s profiting from this,” I said under my breath. Luckily, dad didn’t seem to hear.