I’m still waiting for my various family members to send my graduation photos, but I still wanted to share a few things that happened. Some of the best moments of an intense day:
(*) It was announced at the rehearsal on Friday that because of concerns about swine flu & contamination, the President of UMW would not be shaking anyone’s hand as they received their degrees. (So far, no cases have been reported at UMW.) As I was milling around on Saturday, waiting for the crowd of 1000+ graduates to eventually reach some kind of order, one of my classmates told me his plan to tackle the President in a bear hug.
“See, I’ll hold out my hand, like I’m going to try & shake her hand, but then I’ll go in like this!” he said, demonstrating on me, making me teeter on the heels of my combat boots. We both started laughing, wondering what the probability was of security taking him out. But, when the time came, Justin Lee Toney pulled it off and was the only one who got a hug from President Hample.
(*) One of the other BLS candidates essentially told me that my degree was worthless. He was this Computer Science major who’d been commiserating with another guy about their Dahlgren jobs. When there was a break in the conversation, he turns to me & asks me my major. I tell him English & the next words out of his mouth are “Are you going to teach?” I say, no, that I’ll try some writing, just sort of see what comes my way. He nods & then say, “Yeah, you can’t do anything with a language degree, unless you teach. Or ‘write’.” Thanks, man.
(*) Before we processed out of Jefferson Square down Campus Walk to Ball Circle, I saw a whole cicada shell in the gutter. It was unbroken, somehow still intact despite the shuffling and stomping of all the graduates. As I walked away, getting ready to mark the end of undergrad, I like to imagine that it survived the march.
(*) The hats that the professors wear look like something from a Renaissance Fair. I stick by this statement, no matter what anyone says. When I mentioned this to one of my professors, he said, “No. No. Let’s set up the scale here. Renaissance Fairs = uncool (holds up his left hand). Me = cool (holds up his right hand, distanced way far away on the opposite side).”
When I persisted, he said, “The two sides don’t meet; this isn’t a circle, where one thing eventually becomes the other!” before again demonstrating the cool/uncool scale again. Later, as I was standing in my row watching the faculty enter the field, another student behind me said, “Man, it looks like they’re coming straight from a Ren Fair.”
So, Sir, I would still like proof positive the Ren Fairs are uncool.
(*) When the BLS students stood up to have their degrees conferred, I started hyperventilating. Deep, gasping breaths that I struggled to control. I grabbed the chair in front of me, I started slapping my wrist, just anything to get myself to stop. The woman in front of me tried to help. She turned around & said, “Now’s not the time to get nervous. The work’s done; you’re getting the degree!”
Then, I looked over at my mom, who was 9 or 10 rows away & she was making the universal “calm down” sign. Somehow, seeing her & the rest of my family combined with the irritation that some misplaced student was holding up the line was enough for me to get it together. Everything else is a blur: getting to the stage, handing over my name card, breezing past the President, & getting the envelope. I didn’t see or hear anything; I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.
Then I sat back down in my seat & realized I had someone else’s degree.
(*) The one thing I really regret is that I couldn’t find any of my professors after graduation. I wanted my family to meet some of the amazing people who’ve influenced me over these past few years & I couldn’t find anyone. So, the group of us broke & went our separate ways to our cars. Then, on my way out, going through the main gate for probably the last time, I spotted one of the professors. I screamed out their name like a crazy person and waved them over frantically.
So, after introductions, my professor was chatting us up. He kept using “we”, which was a little overwhelming in sweet way: “We saw you were nervous; we commented on that.” The last thing he said to me was, “We were cheering for you, did you hear us? You are a department darling!” Wow.