Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Yesterday was graduation day at my university. I've become disturbingly familiar with the day's routine: there are horror stories passed around of traffic and parking on graduation day, so many faculty and staff take the day off to avoid the mess. As a result, traffic is always surprisingly light, unless you're arriving at the ungodly-early hour required for graduates. I arrive, I park easily (shh! don't tell!), I walk in past the school employees who are eager to direct graduates and families to the places they need to go in order to experience the maximum pomp and circumstance. I'm holding a vinyl lunchbox and computer bag; clearly, I'm not in need of direction. Often, an acquaintance will ask when I'm going to graduate. Often, I want to start throwing punches. This year, one of the administrative types that I know told me that she hopes I don't graduate anytime soon, because she'd miss my smile. It was a nice change to give someone a hug instead of a grimace.

Typically, I go inside the building, sit at my desk, and pretend that it's just like any other day. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a graduation luncheon for a friend who finished her degree last summer and has spent the last year on the faculty at another school. I'm not sure how to describe the celebration except to say that it was, in fact, celebratory. My friend was surrounded by family, by the close friends who helped her through school, by the faculty in our department, and by those of us who couldn't do much to help her along, but instead got to be helped by her. It reminded me of why ceremonies do matter. When DT and I got married, we'd been together for over six years, we'd lived together for a substantial part of that, and we thought that actually being married wouldn't change anything. Honestly, we were wrong -- our practical lives didn't change, but there was something about being surrounded by our people, about creating our own ceremony, about throwing a big party for the express purpose of announcing that we were for real, that really did matter. It was a wonderful surprise when it happened, and yesterday reminded me of that. In practical terms, my friend finished almost a year ago, but yesterday was still her graduation day and I'm grateful to have been there to be part of her celebration.

Being a selfish human-type animal, it made my mind wander to my own graduation someday. I hope that next year, I won't be carrying a vinyl lunchbox or computer case. I've always had a fantasy of walking with WonderGirl in my cap and gown, and now that fantasy has extended to Rocco, too. I hope I have the same sense of closure and commencement that my friend had this year.

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