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Forty-five years old, and I still sometimes feel like a little girl playing dress-up. Dress pants, button down shirt, blazer – business styles may change in subtle ways, but for the most part they’ve stayed the same. Jeans too – the styles may change, but jeans themselves still haven’t left the world of mainstream fashion. I’d much rather be wearing those right now, but as the song goes, “You can’t always get what you want.”

I laugh aloud at the thought that my seventeen-year-old daughter only recently discovered that song. Released over twenty years before I was even born, but I still knew the Rolling Stones from a young age. I guess I didn’t really know much from fifty years before I was born though.

“What’s so funny?” my husband asks sleepily from the bed.

“Nothing.” I shook my head.

I hear Franklin waking up Grace down the hall. Considering he’s almost ten years old, every morning I’m amazing to hear that he’s survived to serve as my daughter’s alarm clock. It’s a testament, I suppose, to the new durability of technology. When 2025 rolled around, by which time most of the world was part of the cloud, they – you know, the royal “they” – realized it really wasn’t practical for people to be throwing out their tabs and bots every year to get the latest model. Franklin was one of the first d-bots on the market.

My tab, however, is brand new. A twenty-year anniversary gift from my husband. I place my hand on the screen to unlock it, and check my feed. A chat pops up, and words begin to appear.

Mom, can I go w/ Aisha 2
I close the chat window and speak loudly.

“I might be more inclined to give my daughter what she wants if she came and spoke to me face-to-face!”

The sigh from Grace’s room is audible. I can hear her feet shuffle down the hallway and I open the door to her sullen face.

“It’s so much easier to talk by chat. I don’t know why you insist on speaking with me face-to-face just because we’re both in the house,” Grace said.

“I hope you realize how ridiculous that just sounded.”

“Well, sorry to disappoint, but I don’t.” Grace’s sulk deepened.

“You know, you’re going to have to get used to this at RealU. And for someone who wants permission for something, you’re acting awfully bratty.”

“Bratty?” Grace laughed. “Okay, I’m sorry. There’s this awesome concert, Dark and Dreary Change is doing covers of all these classics…”


“Well, that’s the thing…it’s on SS.”

“SS. SS!?” I take a deep breath. We took family trip to SS two years ago. It was frightening, breaking through the Earth’s atmosphere, being adrift in – well, nothing. But it was beautiful and exhilarating, and well worth the years of saving and the twenty-day round trip.

“You want to spend half of your summer break traveling to and from SS? And who exactly is paying for this?” I ask.

“Aisha’s dad has a private shuttle. It’s completely safe, emergency s-suits and everything! And I don’t mind the long trip. I’ll have cloud access, I’ll do schoolwork and stuff. Please mom. Please.”

I silently bring up Grace’s school progress report. Her grades are excellent, as always. At another school, that might simply mean she was a great hacker, or the computerized grading methods were flawed, but I had fought to get Grace into one of the last high schools in the city that still used physical educators, and had state of the art protection software for school files. There was talk that middle schools were soon to lose physical, on-site instructors as well. It was simply cheaper and easier to have someone teach via video broadcasting, or just have a computerized class. But cheaper and easier was often the opposite of better.

“I honestly don’t even know why you bother checking my grades anymore.” Grace sighed. “I’m always doing well. RealU wouldn’t have accepted me otherwise.”

I smiled. “I know” I say.

“So I can go!?”

“Yes, you can go.”

“Oh, thank you thank you thank you! This is going to be the best summer!” Grace runs over and hugs me.

“What is she thanking you for?” Chris says as he sits up in bed.

“Don’t worry about it Dad. I’m gonna go great ready for class.” Grace walks back down the hall to her room. I turn to face my husband.

“She’s going to a concert with Aisha on SS in a couple of weeks.”

Chris looks at me with sleepy, concerned eyes. “Well, that sounds like fun, but are you okay with that?”

I shrugged. “Well, it’s not costing us anything, and Aisha’s a good friend, so I don’t see any problem.”

“But…?” He knew me too well. I took a deep breath.

“But it’s her last summer at home before college. And since she’s going to RealU, we’ll probably hardly ever see her.”

I try to imagine my daughter at RealU. Swimming with dolphins, horseback riding, camping, traveling the globe. Experiences increasingly hard to come by in our technology driven world. I’m glad that she will have real professors, be living in “old-fashioned” college style dorms, interacting with other students. I’m glad her education won’t consist of her sitting in her room, on the computer all day. I’m glad she is part of the movement to keep “real” experiences valuable – not necessarily more or less valuable than virtual ones, but a necessary part of the human experience.

But I would miss her.

My husband smiles and kisses me on the cheek.

“This is what we wanted for her,” he says.

“I know.” I sigh and smile, and put on my heels. I stand back up and take another look in the mirror. I don’t feel like a little girl playing dress up anymore.