It’s June in Wisconsin. The trees are green (finally) and the mailbox is full of graduation announcements.
This time of year in the US – this week especially in my environs – marks an important rite of passage toward adulthood…graduation from high school. Every June, thousands of 12th graders don the cap and gown and march (in alphabetical order) across a stage to receive their high school diplomas.
Showbiz was at the graduation ceremony for his school last night…as he was getting ready, hubs gives me a panicked look and says, “Is he graduating tonight?!?” No dear, that’s next year – honestly! Although not a graduate, he was attending since part of the
dog and pony show ceremony included performances by the Concert Choir, featuring the graduating senior members (I had an earful of how he had been stripped of his solo in The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond in favor of a less qualified senior. False modesty is not a problem for Showbiz.) When I dropped him off at call time, the parking lot was already jam packed and he later reported that the ceremony was 2.5 hours long…I cannot wait until next year! *shudder*
Commencement isn’t exactly a rare occurrence for me – my university celebrates one each and every May…I didn’t go this year but I heard it was one for the annals – held in a giant tent on the lawn with snow flurries outside and 90 minutes behind schedule inside. Sounds like my kind of event. Not. Frankly, usually I don’t pay much attention to high school graduation, but this year is a bit different since I just received the invitation for my high school reunion in the mail. It’s sort of a big one – Madonna’s Live to Tell was the number 1 song in the US the year I graduated.
Then I found this: there I am…honor cords, roses, newly short hair and a cast on my right hand from breaking two fingers playing softball for my school a few weeks before (but I made the all conference team U-RA-RA! *ahem*)…at the end of the “Ver’s”. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the tall blond kid behind me. I know the big guy behind him went on to play in the NFL and I can see the flaxen hair of one of my besties back in the “W’s”
Honestly, I don’t remember much about the ceremony. I remember there were two valedictorians – both 4.0 students when 4.0 was something remarkable. I remember being frosty because my class rank was two places below that of a friend because I took Calculus, Chemistry and Physics senior year while she took Band, Choir and Orchestra. I don’t remember the speeches, I don’t remember the songs, but I do remember being of two minds: Excited for the future, but already nostalgic for what I was leaving behind. I think the pomp and circumstance of commencement is designed to elicit exactly those feelings. And then it is gone. What seemed so important then is mere trivia now. Can you believe that not once in the succeeding decades has a single person asked me what my class rank was?! The nerve of every single body! 😀
I look back on those days now definitely older, and hopefully wiser. I probably won’t go to my class reunion. I’ve been to a couple over the years, and I find them less than entertaining. I returned to live in the town where I grew up, but I’m not that girl anymore. Yet, when I’m around the assembled gaggle of my high school classmates, the decades seem to fall away and old hierarchies and insecurities return. I didn’t hate high school, but I don’t want to go back either, and that seems to be the general intention of the reunions I’ve attended. It’s a kind of strange dynamic to be in a group of people who seem to have peaked at 17 and are anxious to regain some of that past glory every 10 years over a chicken dinner. I think I’ll pass.
One of the things I’ve tried to impress upon my kids as they struggle through school age trials is that this time is only a bump on a road. That girl who teased MiniMe relentlessly in 5th grade or the teacher who was the bane of Showbiz’ 11th grade existence won’t be nearly so important as they experience more and more of the world. I think it is great to look back, but I definitely encourage them to go forward.