Weekend Plans Post: High School Graduations
Way back when, in 2001, the first baby in our circle was born. Sure, babies are born all the time, but this baby was the first baby born to friends that Maribou and I hung out with regularly. We freaked out. We didn’t know what to do. So, of course, we started buying stuff. The baby will need books!, we shouted, and started rummaging for all of the childrens’ books from our own childhood to make sure that the kid grew up knowing stuff like “Elephants sometimes wear suits” and “sometimes monkeys need x-rays after they eat puzzle pieces”.
One of the things we did was go out to one of those Happening And Hip Baby Clothing Stores and buy almost identical Hawaiian print shirts and the only difference was the sizes: 0-3months, 3-6months, 6-12months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, and 5 years. My goal for this was to have the kid ask, when he was 16 or 17 and looking through the childhood pictures, “why am I wearing the same shirt for 5 years in a row?”
Well, that kid graduated from high school this week.
As I was sitting there in the audience listening to the various vice-principals, principals, and superintendents offer bromides to the kids, I remembered all of the speeches I received at my various graduations… or, to put a finer point on it, I failed to remember pretty much any of them (well, with one exception). High school graduation? Nothing. I remember milling about in the gymnasium and sitting in the blue plastic chairs that were the same color as my gown… but I don’t remember the speeches at all. How’s about college graduation? Nope, don’t remember a thing. I don’t even really remember milling about. Maribou’s Master’s Degree? Nope, nothing.
I did pick up a fragment of my 8th grade graduation, though. The art teacher gave a speech about how we were all likely to be corporate drones in the future but we needed to hold on to some parts of our childhood. We needed to retain some of our youthful idealism. The line that came back regarded the day when we’d buy a car. We shouldn’t just pick a car out for what it can hold in the trunk or how fast it could go… we should look at the color and say that it was the color of the sky of a summer day that we enjoyed when we were children.
I guess “sky blue” was a popular enough color for a car back in the 80’s. I guess. (Then again, my car is technically the color of a sunset.)
And I thought about what I might write for a graduation speech, if pushed to do so, and how I didn’t remember anything from any of the speeches that I’ve been given, except for one line about how I needed to think about my childhood when I bought a car.
Most of the lines were stuff that are things best discovered organically. “Grownups are faking it. They’ve always been faking it.” See? That’s one of those truths that needs to be unearthed for oneself.
There were a couple of things that came to me during the happy graduate’s celebratory get-together. The first was when I was standing around with his dad and mom (both of whom I met when I was a senior in high school) and said something to the effect of “It doesn’t seem THAT long ago that we were doing this for us.” The second was when I asked the grad himself “What will you be doing in 26 years?” He confidently answered “Getting the Nobel Prize”. I told him “Yes, good… do that too, but what you’ll be doing in 26 years is *THIS” and I pointed to the hobnobbing grownups all there to celebrate his graduation. “Oh yeah…” he said.
It probably won’t stick. It wouldn’t have stuck for me. Some things you can only find out for yourself.
Which means that this weekend will be spent contemplating mortality and the circle of life and running errands and doing chores.
So… what’s on your docket?
(Featured Image is “Let’s go, let’s eat!” by Pavel Mishchenko. Used under a creative commons license.)