Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Life In Holidays - Graduation

After twenty years of school, the habit of measuring time in semesters is a hard one to break. In December, for instance, I left my four jobs to visit home for Christmas break. Lately my grandparents keep asking me when I "get out for summer." Gradually, however, I'm learning to delineate the seasons and months by the occurrence of Major Holidays. Being a New Yorker, this takes more effort than one from a normal place might imagine. It goes without saying that Jews shoulder the largest possible burden of special dates, but I find that we secular, young adult heathens have plenty of our own calendar crosses to bear.

I moved to Brooklyn mid-May of last year, so I'll start there. College graduations present a monumental opportunity for reckless intergenerational merrymaking. Relatives smother the graduate with love and pride and deluded charges to go forth and Do Great. They ply you with tear-stained cash, but not enough to cover four years of higher learning. Definitely enough to dull your sense of your own "cost of living" for the first moth or so, though, for which I was terribly grateful.

I feared my graduation would be stressful because the date would have marked my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. Of course they were both in attendance (they love me more than anything in the world), along with legions of family from both sides (ditto). Including my aunt's new beau whom I had never heard of (I put it together real fast that, oh yeah, I hadn't seen Uncle David in ages).

It wasn't, though. Graduation was stressful because I went into my typical itinerary-planning Family Trip mode. Organized activities included me shepherding a caravan across the Verrazano Bridge to show everyone my new apartment, and scrambling to find family-friendly events in the embarrassing town of New Brunswick, NJ that would make the North seem a little less shitty. My parents managed to locate sweet tea vodka at the Buy-Rite, so then the turnpike sprawl didn't seem so bad.

Of course everything turned out fine. It meant a lot to my family that I graduated with the highest GPA in the theater department, and not for a minute did it occur to them that this indicated a gross academic shortchange in Conservatory World. They were still enthralled with my academic prowess even after I veered into this maximum security prison en route to the Newark airport.

Graduation made me excited for my new city and new house and new job, but mostly it made me excited to visit home a couple of weeks later to see Jaci graduate high school. Her version was pretty similar to mine, only with better food and prettier people. The graduates were shiny and hopeful and, for the most part, had finally lost all their baby fat. White zinfandel haze notwithstanding, for Jaci and me both, graduation was a treasured bit of ephemera surrounded by the ones who love us best.

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