This is how I graduate: the only Centre commencement in living memory on which it has rained, in alphabetical order yet in the middle of the pack, ending up shivering in the library halfway to the auditorium, which was in neither the sunny nor rainy day plans. Our baccalaureate speaker was a fervent liberal and our keynote speaker a stolid conservative; hackles were raised at each and both. I tried to dry the rain off my glasses and found that polyester robes don’t soak up much.
My apartment has been messily slaughtered, furniture shoved and stolen and hidden mold revealed. One more time I’m the last one to move out. The walls are bare, and most of what I own is in piles on the floor. I’ll never live with Jon or Amanda or David again.
I said goodbye and soon to many, many people, and went to my uncle’s house to see Ken, Jon and Emily one more time and to be astounded by the generosity of my family. I fell asleep sitting up before we came back here. I’m going to pack all night and leave in the morning, which I was explicitly told not to do.
Those of you who know me from my first Governor’s Scholars Program will be gratified to know, I hope, that I brought an umbrella onstage with me at the ceremony. As we were leaving, I ended up facing the wrong way and didn’t notice I was supposed to be moving for several long seconds after the rest of my row had gone. I jumped and cursed onstage (at my own commencement) and scrambled out. I was so flustered I forgot the umbrella.
On my way out to meet my family I stood for a few minutes on the stage in Weisiger. That was the first place I found myself on the first day of GSP, here at Centre; I stood in the dark, having come in out of the rain, and wrote about quiet stages on a chalkboard. Later that night, Milton Reigelman would point it out in his opening convo speech, and I would feel a strange mix of shame and pride at having something I’d written read.
This is how I graduate: I am bone-deep nothing-left weary, and I have miles to go before I sleep. I know my time here is done and I am satisfied with it, and I’m ready and willing and glad to go. I’m hurt and hollow, childish and scared. I want desperately to put off the deep wrench I’m feeling, because it means I’m really leaving home.