Graduation…and So Much More

May 19, 1997  Monday

My name was on the list (I checked).  I can’t believe we graduated.  When we were all getting to school, it was raining and overcast, but soon it cleared up, and was a nice day.  As we were marching in, I was too lost in thought to be nervous.  Sidney started it off by giving her Salutatorian speech.  What a speech!  She started off by saying we were going out in the real world now, which was filled with hate and greed.  It got only more blunt from there, but I really liked it.  Later I told her later, “I would have said the same thing.  Well…probably not, but I would have wanted to to say the same things.”  We had planned to throw our hats if everyone was going to do it, so just after we turned our tassels to the right side we (not all of us) threw our mortarboards in the air.  It was just something that had to be done.  I couldn’t believe all of the people that were there.  It was great to see Bushia (the Polish for “grandmother”) again, who had been my childhood babysitter every afternoon, and I thanked her for her card.  As everyone was leaving, Sidney said there would be cake and punch at her house.  I thought the rolling festivities would then move on to Willa the Valedictorian’s house, but more on this later.

Afterwards, my entire family went back to my house for a party.  I got as gifts: luggage filled with pudding cups (I don’t have to even say anything).  My parents have always been so practical.  While that’s a good thing sometimes, it can make for some lousy gifts (not that I’m saying anything).  By 4:45 Colin had escaped his own, fun, well-intentioned family fling, and came to my house.  We decided even though it was late, everyone would be at Sidney’s at Fullbright Estates, or at least we would see them driving somewhere along Route 8 coming to Elmwood (I haven’t had good experiences with finding people on Route 8.  Ha-Ha…sigh).  Anyway, when we got there, her green Audi was the only one visible in the drive.  ‘Where is everyone?’ we thought.  Downstairs, Colin and I found only her sisters–and Sidney, who was asleep.  To have no one come to a party must be terrible.  We watched some very interesting TV. May I elaborate?  Yes, I shall.  After a gaggle of home videos, we began watching a movie called The Truth About Cats and Dogs.  I had never seen it before.  In the portion we saw, Janeane Garofalo is with this other actor named Ben Chaplin, and he tries to kiss her, but she pulls away.  Chaplin’s line is then that he loves Janeane Garofalo, and she replies (quote), “You can’t love me” (Gasp, groan, ugh).  Then he tries to explain it isn’t her outer beauty he loves, but her inner beauty.  There was more, but by this time the irony had gotten to me.  I was on the left side of the couch, Colin in the middle, and Sidney on the right (now I wonder, how was Colin feeling at the moment?).  Going on, I couldn’t hold it, and stifled out a nervous laugh.  Sidney looked over to me, and said she didn’t see anything funny about the movie.  Neither did I.  Then we turned it to another movie.  I suggested later we go to McDonald’s.  On the way Sidney read the first three pages of my new journal in the back as Colin drove.  But first, a stop off.  Chase Johnston  had promised he was throwing the “official” senior party, at his house way out in the country, and I guess he was right.  After saying hi, we were gone after about ten minutes.  I will remember being offered a strawberry wine cooler in a friendly but very persistent way from a group of guys from my class.  Visibly put off by it, Sidney from my right simply grabbed it and drank a little, silently saying, “There, what’s the big deal?”  It was quite something to see this other side of her.

We tried going back into Peoria from there, and made it to McDonald’s, but being Sunday, many movies had already started.  My tape in Colin’s deck was played “Hotel California,” and I began to sing along with it.  I knew what I was going, and so did she.  During the song I received a soft jab from the back to tell me to shut up.  As the song was ending with a clash of twin guitars I suddenly realized what the song was next–“Wonderful Tonight.”  It began playing for just a moment, but before it got to any lyrics Sidney commented, “You guys like to listen to sad songs.  It’s going to make me cry.”  I turned to the radio.

While in Peoria, the warning siren went off on this, a humid, late spring night with a cold front moving in with a thunderstorm.  Tornado?  Our adventure quickly degenerated into comparing hair care products at Cub Foods.  Trying to find find something else to do, we went to Blockbuster.  Not really knowing what to get, I for some reason got The Hudsucker Proxy.  Going back to her house to see it, Sidney and Colin were both asleep within 45 minutes.  There I was again: awake but waiting for everyone to wake up.  As they laid there downstairs, stretched out over couches, I read the old journal I had given Sidney.  Being late, I finally woke her up, and in my best impersonation of the past, I whispered, “We better go.”

With Colin going to his car ahead of me, I asked her if she had done any writing recently too.  She said not yet.  I then told her, “You know, I laugh when I get very nervous.” and I think she knew what I meant.  Reminding her about Regionals, she told me to call her when I knew what time it was.

Memo on how my vacation started today: woke up at 11:40.

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