I graduated from the University of California, Riverside fourteen years ago today. I remember the day fondly, it was hot. I memorialized the scene in my short story, “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer“. I’m not big on the Medieval hubbub of graduations. As I have pointed out in the past, where is the distinction in the mass graduates garbed in black. Standing in the sun for 3 hours doesn’t make me any more graduated than those who skip the ceremony. But there are parents and siblings and grandparents and so we make a small sacrifice in order to please them. I couldn’t tell you who spoke at my graduation. It might have been the mayor of Riverside. Truth is, I wasn’t paying attention. I was just pleased with myself for having graduated in four years, having done fairly well in my studies, and for finally, finally being done with school for a while.
I can’t recall the exact date of my high school graduation, but I think it was on or about June 18, 1990. That means that it was 18 years ago and that is significant. I was eighteen years old when I graduated from Former President Steven Grover Cleveland “School Without Walls” Humanities Magnet High School. Among the other famous graduates in my class were strausmouse, vickyandnorm, kruppenheimer, and amo2761. I am now 36 and that means that 18 years have passed since graduating from high school. In other words, if I had been born on my graduation day, I would be graduating from high school right now. It’s as though I’ve lived two lifetimes, the one before and during high school, and the one, equal in length, since. I have only vague memories of my high school graduation. There were lots of students graduating, and once again, little distinction. (I think this is when I first decided that graduations were really for parents and not for the graduates themselves.) I seem to recall finding all my friends, though with some difficultly. I remember tossing up the caps. I think my family went out to dinner to celebrate. What I do remember, however, is one of the graduation parties I attended. It was at Dorit and Orlee’s house. It was nighttime and the thing that stood out most was that one of our humanities teachers, Mr. Acardi, was at the party.
I don’t think I will ever be graduating again (although one never knows) and in some ways this is an incredible relief. No more standing in endless processions. No more wearing black caps and gowns with the hot sun beating down upon us. No more long, boring speeches by uninteresting speakers, telling us what to expect in a mostly unpredictable world. No more shaking hands with a mid-level administrator who has shaken the hands (and who knows where they have been) of a thousand other students. For me, graduation is a very personal achievement, one that can’t properly be celebrated en masse. Nevertheless, I look back on my graduations with sardonic amusement, thankful that I had them and glad that they are forever over and done with.