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Reading Between the Pines: Thank you. Why are these two simple words sometimes so hard to say?

By Stacie Chadwick

When I was a senior in high school, I applied to two colleges. The first was the school I was destined to attend. The second? An afterthought, just in case the world’s largest sink hole, triggered by a flying unicorn tethered to an alien spacecraft piloted by Tom Cruise, happened to swallow my destiny college whole.

That didn’t happen. Instead I was wait-listed, which for me, was the equivalent of disappearing into the world’s largest sink hole while tethered to an alien spacecraft piloted by Tom Cruise. After getting the news, I became sullen and unmoored, sequestering myself in my closet with Erasure’s “Oh L’Amour” pounding through the headphones of my Sony Mega Bass Sports Walkman.

After a few days of intense suffering, dad told me to shower, scrape the caked drool off my face, and put on some clean clothes. It was time for a road trip.

Floating down the highway at a cool 64 mph in his Ford Thunderbird (better known as The Gray Ghost), we somehow ended up at my destiny college. Before I could throw a hormone-inspired fit and demand to be returned home, I found myself face-to-face with the dean of admissions, better known as The Dream Crusher. As I sat, immobilized by fear, my dad listed virtues I didn’t even know I had in his pitch to get me a spot in the incoming freshman class. This wonderful man, who’d never raised his voice against me in my 18 years on Earth, now raised it for me, loud and proud.

If you ask, he’ll tell you what he did was no big deal, and that all he really wanted was to create some distance between his Barcalounger and my constant feed of synthesizer-heavy, sappy love songs. But now, a lot older and a little more wise, I understand that his actions were extraordinary. He spoke for me at a time when I hadn’t yet found my voice, and taught me that when you want something to change, the first thing you have to do is ask.

On that day, I learned huge lessons on a short road trip that got me into the school of my dreams, which altered the course of my life. And for that? Thanks Dad.

To read more from Stacie, check out her blog at



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