This is the time of year when we all are forced to travel down the road of High School Graduation. Be it our own Grandchildren or shows on television, we are once again reminded of that fateful day when life as we knew it as children was over.
It’s been forty-two (42) years since I walked the walk to that never-ending Pomp and Circumstance March on a June night in 1970. I always thought it would be so much better if the class marched in to Pomp and Circumstance but then walked out to the tunes of the year. I suppose that walking out to “Play That Funky Music,” or “Disco Inferno” might have taken away from the dignity of the occasion… Then again, we all could have carried flowers and handed them out as we twirled our way out to Ray Steven’s singing “Everything is Beautiful.” I’m just sayin; there are ways to spruce up this whole process!
I really don’t dwell on the past all that much, but when I have to sit through one of these grueling ceremonies for hours, I find that my mind does tend to wander a bit. I try to sneak in my Nook Color so I can at least read or enjoy a game of Angry Birds, but, Susan will give me one of those looks, like: “What are you 12?” and I understand that a 59-year-old woman should be setting some sort of example to her grandchildren who are not allowed to be playing games on their phones or whatever little electronic thing they have smuggled in, so I put it away.
I find myself thinking of teachers who put so much on the line to make me understand the importance of an education. I wish I would have listened more and talked less. I wish I had the chance to sit with a few of them and just let them know they made a difference in my life.
My mind drifts to friends who have come and gone from my life. Sadly, the ink that signed “friends forever” in our yearbooks has outlasted most of these friendships. I understand now that this is one of life’s mysteries, never really to be understood. I lived in a small town and went through twelve years of school with the same friends. From Junior High on I would spend every waking hour with some of these friends – a few of them I spent so much time at their home and they at my home that each set of parents believe they have another child living with them. We screamed at the invisible ghosts and cried at the inevitable heartache, we discussed the did you or did you not do the whole “French Kissing” thing, and I absolutely could not imagine my life without these friends by my side or at the other end of the phone. And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I left the confines of our small town for college, others got married, others got jobs and stayed – life happened to us all.
I don’t have much contact with my high school friends. There is a gaggle of us on Facebook who tend to make my days brighter simply just be being there, but , most of my High School friends remain that – High School Friends. A different time, a different place, with sweet friends who were there when I needed them to be. I used to believe that I had some sort of responsibility to keep these people in my life. I no longer believe this to be true. I also used to wonder why I was no longer friends with these people. How could I just let them go out of my life, what sort of person does that? Well, I’ve discovered that every sort of person does that – this is what life is, people coming and going from your life. Some come and stay a very long time, some come and go, and come and go, and some come; and then go forever.
I’m certainly not the same person I was in High School. I never had the strength or the courage to tell my family or my friends I was gay. Some tell me now it would have never mattered, but, we’ll never know that for sure. It was 1970, and it was, and still is, a small, rural, conservative Republican town. I was afraid and I felt alone, so I told no one. Well, the girl I was sneaking out to see knew, but that’s for an entirely different blog!
What I know for sure is this: My life is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Had I made one small change, who knows where or who I would be at this very moment. Had I never gotten married I would have never moved to California, and that would have meant never meeting Susan, and that’s a road I don’t even want to think about traveling. And what of the hard stuff in-between? Well, that’s just life; you get through it and life goes on.
So, in a few weeks when I’m sitting at my Grandson Cabot’s High School Graduation, I’ll be humming the tunes of the 1970’s in my head while listening to Pomp and Circumstance and handing Susan some tissue!