Monday, May 24, 2010

the unmistakable figure cut in the picture below: the last of three graduations, the high school one, the line, at age 18, between youth and adult. there's no question we put more emphasis on this than we need to, but then, there's no question, it's a relief, a moment for parents, if you make it this far, a moment to be proud of. toward the end there, i told him, you'll be lucky if you don't tell them everything you've bottled up for twelve years, every hostility and resentment for confinement; it was clear at this ceremony that the hall monitors generally took the brunt of this resentment, and would forever be remembered for it, if not well paid.

in college, they called it "walk" as in, "are you going to walk?" which sounded eerily like an old movie about the death penalty which starred nicholas cage or some such star. you get the diploma, and off you go: some to nice colleges, far away; others closer to home. i'm always reminded of the ones that didn't make it; in this class a kid was hit by lightning (he might have been a class above or below) but they also graduated a returning vietnam vet who somehow had not made it through high school the first time around. late at night, their "lockdown" party ended at about 3:30; i thought maybe this was a last cruel joke on parents who still had to give rides, or maybe it was a way to have all the town's police converge on one spot, to see where everyone went to go drinking afterward. in any case, a group of them, class of 2010, was out on the street as i drove by at 3:30 am. i peered at them looking for my own son and not really recognizing any of them; his class was about 180, only 30 of whom i could say i knew at all, let alone well. they peered at me wondering if i were their ride; it was uncomfortable. coming back though, they were still there, on the corner. i rolled down my window and yelled congratulations. they made it. now, on to the dark foreboding world.


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