To clarify, the day of my high school graduation went a little bit more like this.
Rehearsal started in the early morning rain and lasted for several unbearable hours. I, like many people, was wearing shorts, a tank top, and limbs full of goosebumps. I pretended to listen while our doofus of an assistant principal exerted his last bit of authority over us by making us walk through the motions at least four times. The secretary I wrote about a while ago (yes, that one) meanwhile muttered to the powers that were and jabbed her hands around in furious directions so we could all see how powerful and important she was. I chewed gum with vigor as my choir ran through "Lean On Me," because, honestly, no one could tell me not to anymore.
The rain took enough of a pause that evening to not disrupt the portion of our ceremony that wasn't under the roof of the pavilion. I wore that dress I showed you guys and matching earrings, but since the traditional graduation getup pretty much covers every surface from mid-calf up, all anyone saw were the strappy, silver prom shoes I wore to be eccentric. It was really sort of warm and pleasant on the stage in a very early summer kind of way. My friend Seers texted me, "I might fall asleep up here. Seriously. It's warm and this robe is like a blanket."
Oh yeah. Which reminds me. My friends and I exercised four years' worth of surreptitious texting practice by tweeting through the entire ceremony. My brother @replied me saying he'd pay me $500 if I screamed "FIRE!" Friends from the school newspaper staff in the audience begged me not to make them cry and made snarky remarks throughout. The funniest messages, by far, were in response to Andrew's commencement speech.
Oooooh, goodness. How is one expected to feel when she is designated Girlfriendthing of the guy barking Klingon into the microphone? I kid you not. It began with alien language and ended with a combination of "Live long and prosper," and my humiliation. The director of my musicals, seated in the front row, made eye contact with me, betraying her vicarious embarrassment. My brother texted me, "You've kissed that guy. FYL." It's possible that I would have found this charming and funny a few weeks ago, but feeling a thousand eyes reading my reactions made me sort of want to vomit. In hindsight, that was out of character for me... but I'm trying to preserve the hellish night I left Hell High School exactly how it happened, and last night, I almost embarra-barfed.
The last speech of the night could very well have been the last speech of my life, because if it weren't for the sheer grace of God intervening, it would have gone on for six more days. I sound like a jerk for saying that. It was delivered by our principal, who's battling leukemia. I've always genuinely liked the man, especially compared to the rest of the faculty, so the past couple of months have been hard. His speech was heartfelt, and I recognized that he tried to be inspirational, but by around the twenty-minute mark, it was losing its grasp on my heartstrings. I don't know... maybe I'll go to hell for saying that. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and have to go through four more years of high school with Satan himself as my hall monitor. I'm just trying to tell it as it is.
Anyway, when I finally went to walk across the stage, I felt absolutely nothing. Not excited, not nervous, not melancholy, not proud. I might as well have been walking from the fridge to the couch on any other day. Our present stand-in principal read my name (correctly, this time-- in rehearsal, he thought my middle initial was A) and I went through the process thoughtlessly. The school board, principal, and assistant principal greeted us for handshakes. By chance, the first board member in line was my closest family friend, so we had a long hug. The second member in line was Seers's dad, who's helped raise me, so I hugged him, too. Then--HAHA!-- the most awkward moment of the whole night. I barely know the next woman in line, and she obviously just assumed I was the hugging type. She reached out to sincerely embrace me, and I instinctively stuck my hand out like a dead fish. We fumbled around for way too long, trying to gauge what to do, and ended up sort of leaning towards each other while moving our hands robotically. At the end of the line, as I was handed my honors diploma, I honestly considered ripping my robe open, screaming, "SUCKAAAZ!" and running off the other end of the stage, all the way home.
But I would have missed the Alma Mater! Have any of you ever seen the VeggieTales episode in which they're forced to sing a worshipping song about chocolate bunnies that symbolically threatens their religious beliefs? Well, Junior Asparagus and I have a lot in common, and I don't just mean our unruly hair. The lyrics to my school's Alma Mater are preposterous, and I'd probably think that even if I felt this way:
Praise we bring you, Alma Mater
Hell is your name.
Songs we sing you, Alma Mater
Widely known your fame.
In our hearts, we'll always know
Our pride in you will grow and grow.
True and loyal, Alma Mater,
We shall always be.
And forever, Hell High,
We pledge our hearts to thee.
I don't know who idolizes fire and brimstone like that, but I certainly don't. I've had issues singing along to that damn thing my whole schooling career, and last night, with my diploma on my seat, I stood at its opening chord just so the audience could see my lips not moving. I looked over my shoulder to Lauren, and I practically pulled a muscle from laughter. Wild and bold, she sang it out like some kind of negro spiritual tune, squinting her eyes closed in mock appreciation. I love my friends. As it came to a close, I couldn't help but think of some more fitting lyrics:
God, I hate you, Alma Mater
You cause me much pain.
God forsake you, Alma Mater
Disgusting and mundane.
Long as we're here, we'll always know
Nobody will learn, benefit, or grow.
Repelled and angry, Alma Mater,
I shall always be.
And despite all your attempts,
No one here can define "thee."
The band came to a crescendo, the assistant principal gargled something inaudible into the microphone, caps were thrown, hugs were exchanged, and I bolted out of there as fast as I could. "SCREW ALL OF YOU!" I shouted past a collection of teachers. My choir director laughed and told me to call her by her first name. At least some good came out of that idea.
Which brings me here. I'm a free woman. I only had to endure the hopeful uncertainty of elementary school, the awkward tension of middle school, the penetrating annoyance of high school, and ten flipping speeches about what Confucius say and reaching for the stars. I wish I could say that the ceremony made me want to start go-gettin', movin' and shakin', but it really just made me want to eat a box of Oreos.
Chipotle burritos this year: 21
Subscribers: Youtube won't tell me because it's doing site maintenance. I posted a video on hayleyghoover today, too, but good luck watching it until tomorrow.
Bye, guys! Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow. But not while I'm seeing LAUREN FAIRWEATHER! Once again, if you live anywhere near Akron, Ohio, you should come to the wizard rock show tomorrow night. Can't wait to see some of you, blog readers! <3