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Saturday, June 04, 2005

On a foggy morning

Before 6 every morning these days my nurse nerves wake me up - Zed needs medicine at that hour and he has trouble remembering on his own. If I wake up at 5:47 I have a few minutes to look out the windows at the trees and listen to the birds and bugs.

It's so foggy and quiet this morning. The kids are sleeping that exhausted kid sleep that suggests they'll sleep several more hours.

I've been immersing myself in Brendan Taaffe's Ireland Journals this morning. Brendan will be one of the three teachers at the Village Harmony traveling camp I mentioned and since I've never met him, and am curious what it will be like to teach with him, it's fun to learn about his year in Ireland studying traditional fiddle and the adventures he's been having. He writes very well indeed, and you can follow his link to his home page and listen to his music at the same time, as I am. I liked this insight:
Certain words here carry vastly different meanings: to be bold in America is one of the cardinal virtues of the culture. Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, grabbing opportunities, and the myth of the frontier, where anyone with the gumption could stake their claim and make their fortune. Being bold in Ireland, by contrast, is the reprimand for a misbehaving child. "Ah, you’re a bold boy," when the lad isn’t minding his nanny or is being willful.

Zed's graduation day yesterday started with horrendous rain, which disappointed us all since it meant he'd graduate from the gym instead of outside. We got his painkillers into him (spinal fusion surgery doesn't just heal in a couple weeks!), got him into his nice clothes, got some breakfast into him, and got him over to school.

Melina and I went later - the rain had abated a bit - and found that her grandparents (my ex- in-laws) had saved us seats fairly far to the front, in front of the band which soon started playing Pomp and Circumstance in the traditionally dreadful manner. The choir (it wasn't bad, but it made me wish I'd pushed harder to bring a different kind of music to the school) sang "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "You've Got a Friend," with soloists in that sort of American Idol style, whatever, as a mom (remembering that those songs were popular when I was graduating from high school, was that intentional) I felt entitled to tear up a bit.

Thinking, as I did those many years ago and as I've written here, that it may be our INTENTION to be there for each other, when darkness falls and pain is all around, but sometimes it just can't happen. Sometimes somebody calls out your name and you can't come running from wherever you are. That chills me. Someday I won't be there for my kids.

Pulling back from that gloomy precipice ... Doug Marlette, who draws the Kudzu comics and whose son was also graduating, gave the best commencement address I've ever heard (and I've heard quite a few). Then the tiny Harvard-bound valedictorian, who lives in an intensely happy, nerdy world inhabited only by her parents and her older brother (who wears plaid shirts under shorts held up by suspenders and also goes to Harvard) gave us lots of advice. That's what we need, advice about how to live life from a 17 year old.

Then there was a pleasant and banal reception and then we drove away from that school - perhaps, after eight years of almost daily trips, I'll never go back there again! - and had a nice Greek lunch at Taverna Nikos where everybody but me at the table had the same last name - luckily my ex's parents and brother and sister-in-law are still fond of me and vice versa.

The sad part of the day was when Zed found himself without a ride to the final party of the day and, pale and exhausted from the week's festivities, also without the energy to do anything about it.

He stayed home with Melina and me and we watched "Clerks" - the movie made me howl with laughter but made him suddenly realize he had no plans for the summer beyond the three weeks he'll spend at singing camp in Vermont.

And that he hadn't said a proper goodbye to his friends, and basically that, hey, graduation means high school is over. And even after all this time, I still remember and honor the real sadness of that moment.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

I always do a double-take when I read about someone 'graduating' and then realize it's from high school. We don't graduate from high school in NZ. We graduate from university. As far as I know, we just 'finish' high school.

Well, some people do. I didn't. I did two years of high school and then started working. I got my high school qualifications at night classes, which looks funny on my resume (so I leave it off), because the night classes were held at a boys' high school.

I wonder whether the leaving ceremony in NZ is as elaborate as the US ones seem to be? I didn't experience it myself, obviously, but I don't remember ever hearing anyone talk about it, either, so perhaps not...

At 3:22 AM, Blogger EdWonk said...

Congrats to all! Graduating is quite an achievement for both student and parent. (The 13-year-old TeenWonk begins her high school experience this August.)

I'm looking forward to reading some guest posts!


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