There is a long-standing traditional of caroling in our small neighborhood, which is known as Tower Ridge, the Sunday before Christmas. Then there's a pot-luck party at someone's house. It's a non-denominational affair — Christian, Jew, agnostic, mystic, Unitarian, it doesn't matter. People who lived here years ago come back and invariably mention how they wished they'd never moved. It's just a feel-good evening.
One of Carrick's classmates, Vicky, was home from college and visiting another classmate, Alex, who lived in Tower Ridge the night we went caroling in 2001. Vicky lived in a neighborhood across Broadway, just a three-minute walk away, but she was enthralled by the good will she was experiencing in Tower Ridge that night.
Vicky asked about Carrick and I held back nothing. Vicky talked about staying clean, and how bad the drug scene was — not just in Hastings, but all over. She said that kids were drinking in the bathrooms in the morning between classes. She had even overheard some freshmen talking about going to the woods, she said, which was the traditional domain of upper classmen
She was particularly aghast that one set of parents she knew felt it would be hypocritical for them to prevent their child from doing what they did themselves. She said the parents had a right to tell their children to not drink or do drugs. I said, “a responsibility.” She agreed. She mentioned how easy it is for things to go wrong - a car accident, in particular.
The conversation left me thinking, of course, about how divergent the paths of two girls growing up in similar circumstances could be.