Friday, June 24, 2011

Pomp and Circumstances

And yet another year has passed.

As I stand in the library of my office, I watch another class of wide-eyed, optimistic and enthralled seniors graduate from high school. They are jubilant. Their parents (step-parents, relatives, friends, whomever) are there, watching with pride on their faces. The ceremony is unchanged probably since the beginning of commencement ceremonies….and the traditions as well. The popular kids get the loudest hoots & hollers…the obnoxious horn-thingy rents ear drums in two….the band plays – the caps are tossed in the air, and another summer begins…the juniors are now seniors and have this day to dream about all summer, while the newly graduated concentrate on the biggest 3 month party of their lives (even if they have jobs) because come fall, comes adulthood. College. Junior college. Trade school. The working world. The party is over. They know it. But they have NO IDEA. None.

This is the 10th of these graduations I've eavesdropped on since working here. And the first class I saw dancing with their diplomas are now 10 years out in the world. I wonder about them at times. Some are just finishing medical school, some a few years into their law careers. Since the crash, some are waiting tables at restaurants their parents used to take them to. And some are waiting tables, but they really want to direct. I wonder where their dreams are now? Are they fulfilled as expected? Or are they tucked away in a box in the backs of closets in their parents now-guest rooms along with their yearbooks and letterman's jackets?

Their first reunion will be this fall. The first time some of them will see each other again since this day 10 years ago. Ah, the peacocking that will go on at that party…10 year reunions are all about the had-nots proving to the hads that they made something of  themselves. The unpopular girls hoping that the cheerleaders are fat & divorced. The geeks & nerds hoping the jocks got fat & bald. (That is usually how it goes. Unless you went to high school with Troy Aikmen or Eli Manning – bad break, there, then).  It's ugly. Everyone tries to prove to everyone else that they are SPECTACULAR and SO HAPPY and life gave them the golden ring and they're riding it all the way to the top.

Everyone is lying.

The only thing that makes it better is the alcohol. And hopefully you have someone on your arm to make it less daunting. Once you walk inside and put on that name badge, a weird thing happens. You step right back in time – everyone looks so different: for about 2 minutes. Then the clock turns back magically and everyone looks the same. And the same old cliques re-clique and you're in high school all over again. It's weird. But you down a few drinks, try to eat the dry chicken and the gray broccoli and unless you're either hammered or having fun for real, you bolt out of there as quickly as possible and thank your lucky starts you survived high school one last time.

I hope these men & women are really going for it. Living their dreams. Becoming what they WANT to become instead of becoming something out of necessity. Before they get stuck and can't face their 20th reunion because the future firemen and princesses turned out to be parking patrol agents and secretaries.

To this year's class of 2011 and all future classes – live. Be. Don't settle. Do everything you can that makes you joyful and if something feels twinge-y in your gut, walk away from it. Don't sell your soul for money or fame or a Prada bag or a large salary. Because a large salary at 20 sucks at 40. Believe me. Life is long when you're stuck in it. But if you're dancing through it, life seems very, very short. Always remember the feeling you feel today and strive to feel it for the rest of your life.

And congratulations.

1 comment:

Kate, Dating in LA said...

I've never gone to my high school reunions-- odd because I've gone to all of my college ones and had a terrific time. Maybe it has something to do with the experiences-- high school is something I'd like to not dwell on, but college is mostly fond memories.