Archive | July, 2013

Graduation, Vacation, Asphyxiation (Part 1)

11 Jul

It was stifling hot, and I was late. I guess part of the problem was the fact that I really didn’t care: I hadn’t gotten my hair or makeup done; I hadn’t done my nails; I had only even looked at the cap and gown a few hours earlier. It was a lonely drive in my silver Ford. I blasted crappy pop songs and kicked off my heels. When I pulled in to West Conn, I wasn’t sure where to go. I followed the car ahead of me and happened to park next to my friend’s mom.

“Aren’t you late?” she asked as I pulled the oversized plastic mumu over my dress.

“I don’t even know where to go,” I confessed. We walked together making small talk. “I’ll be fiiiiiine,” I assured both of us. And I was.

My friends laughed as I ran up to get in line. Their twinkling eyes screamed, of course you’re late. I searched for faces I recognized and asked their last names: Waxton, Keeler, Ding–too far!

“You’re right here!” Biscuit was pointing to a space a few people in front of her, surrounded by people I knew. Thank goodness there are only a few E’s at this school.

We stood there outside for a few minutes until they started ushering people inside. We got nervous, antsy. We fidgeted with our ugly hats and read the decorations people had plastered on top–I hadn’t bothered to write my college’s name on my cap–and waited. And we waited some more. Somehow, we E’s were the last ones to go in, and the last ones to stand in the scorching sun. I started to sweat and worried my makeup might smudge. At least I hadn’t done anything to my hair.

Finally, it was time to go inside. The place was packed, and I smiled big and wondered if my family had got there yet. Pomp and Circumstance. We grads were presented to the people in the stands, as if our marching wasn’t clear enough that we’d got there. That we’d made it. That we were done.

I listened to the first boring speech and cringed at the athlete guys who blew up giant beach balls and threw them around. One landed on my head and knocked my cap off. The poor girl giving the speech–I don’t remember her name–looked miserable. A Thoreau quote or two and it was over soon enough.

The valedictorian spoke next. It was awful. Not even memorable. Couldn’t tell you how long it lasted… probably about five good long Temple Runs. Or was I playing Fall Down?It doesn’t matter.

Mr. FuturePresident spoke next. At first I only half listened. The beach balls flew as usual, and the soft ssfffffft of skin on plastic drew my attention away at times. Mr. FuturePresident was a natural at public speaking. His speech had the pacing, intonations and inflections of a practiced politician. I don’t even know what he was saying until he mentioned how our year was a great one, a complex one, which had seen great joy and terrible tragedy. The beach balls were caught, one by one, as he mentioned the two people who’d died the summer that I got here, and the Newtown Shooting so very close to us. Nothing and nobody moved for the rest of his speech, which was moving and motivating. Well done, Mr. FuturePresident.

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My parents brought me two bouquets because they were on sale.

And then I got my diploma, and I was done.