Better late than never, right? Haven't done a RemembeRED post for awhile, and haven't even posted much lately, but squeaked this one in under the wire.
It's funny, you spend the first 18 years of your life with one goal - to graduate. You'd think the ceremony would be seared into my memory from start to finish. Yet, I have no idea who gave our commencement speech. I can't remember what I wore. I know we were able to hold the ceremony outside at the stadium which was a relief since an indoor ceremony restricted the number of people you could invite to 4.
I remember decorating our cars, and I, the nerdiest of the bunch - accidentally left the "U" out of my painstakingly crafted painting on a friend's passenger window so it read, "1993 GRADATE." She was so pissed. She had to drive around with the window down all day to hide it.
I remember the three folding chairs draped in white with a single red rose delicately placed on each. Mini-memorials to the students who had passed away that year; one from leukemia, one from a bizarre bicycle accident in Germany (convinced me that helmets weren't such a lame idea), and one in a tragic car wreck during lunch hour.
I remember it was windy. My hat was strategically bobby-pinned to my head to keep it from blowing away while also allowing my monstrous bangs to show. I wanted to toss my mortar board in the air in the traditional, free-spirited, Mary-Tyler-Moore sort of way, but I was afraid I would lose it amongst the 500 others that were thrown. I half-heartedly flipped it up and kept my eyes glued to it as it descended so I could recover it quickly. So telling of my personality then; desire to be cavalier, but restrained in action.
I remember the after party: tearing up while watching the Senior Video, the magician taking my friend's watch as part of a trick, not winning a prize even though 450 were given out to 500 kids over the course of the night.
I remember waiting for my friend's dad to pick us up the next morning, the sunrise highlighting her blonde perm. She still looked gorgeous after being up all night.
I have memories of the pictures that we took that night, though I don't really remember the actions as they took place. False memories, like the stories you heard about yourself as a small child that were repeated so often you think you remember the events though you don't really.
Snapshots, moments of the day that I can recall, but not much overall when you think about it. Except for one thing. The strange mix of emotions that I felt. I was excited to be done with school as I was after each final day, but also nervous and apprehensive about starting a new chapter of my life. I was supposed to be an adult now, but I felt like an awkward preteen. I still feel that way 20 years later! I was sad to say goodbye to the familiarity of being in the same school district for my entire educational career thus far, but relished the freedom of a future of flexible scheduling and fewer rules. I was proud of my accomplishment, and thankful for the opportunity. Most of all, I was relieved to be released of the (mostly self-imposed I later realized) persona I had maintained for so long. Free to "find myself," meet new people and start over.
Graduation: resolution of childhood, commencement of life.
This week we asked you to think about graduation. It didn't have to be yours and it didn't have to be high school. It does have to be non-fiction - it's memoir.