Sunday, May 16, 2010

Last minute preparations

So I graduated. All I have left is to pay my last bill (consisting mostly of parking tickets) and I get my diploma. Graduation day was fantastic, although I suffered a mild sunburn on my face. I was seated next to Alyssa Lord when it was announced that she received the alumni award for all her hard work and service. I really can't think of anyone more deserving. When the rep from the alumni association was reading the catalogue of her accomplishments, Kat Reid piped up and said, "guys, she's gonna take over the world." Somehow, I wouldn't be totally surprised. I got to meet her huge family which is almost a mirror opposite of mine with four girls and one boy. Her brother and my sister exchanged their sympathies.

All in all, the whole experience was fairly surreal. I took quite a few gentle ribs from my fellow English majors about my double white and gold tassel, signifying a B.A. and a B.S. Alyssa and I spent most of the ceremony joking with each other like little kids in church. It's something I do to keep myself in the moment. I do pretty good with the present; I can even handle the past pretty well. It's the future that bugs me out, and what is graduation but a celebration of the future?

I saw the future the previous night from the balcony at Duke's on the west shore of the Susquehanna. The future is a silent, dimly lit river: inscrutible, overwhelming, vast. No line can plumb it's depths and no sextant can scry it's horizons. From the balcony, the present was joy, joy that you could wrap yourself up in like a knit afghan. I was surrounded by almost the entire senior class, all my friends all ready to depart on their own journeys. Everone was tipsy, happy, and talkative. But I couldn't ignore that looming fact of the river, black as midnight, silent as a snowy wood. I knew there was a city on the other side of that river, hazy and indistinct beneath the post-thunderstorm mist. I knew that if I were to jump into that river and swim, it might take me a while and it would be cold and lonely, but those sturdy towers and glittering domes would rise up to meet me. I knew that the city before me was a good place, and the bar around me was a good place, but what separated them could not be known, could not be guessed at.

Later that evening, after a couple drinks had me loosened up, I had a short talk with Hazel Shively. She's working with AmeriCorps for the next two years in Mississippi. I felt a bit jealous. Hazel's future promises a lot of long days and a lot of weariness, but a degree of certainty that I lack right about now. I don't know how things will work out when I get back from Europe. Moreover, I don't know if I will be happy. I told Hazel that I didn't think I had the same passion that I had observed in many of my friends, that dedication to an ideal which I see in people like April Lindley or Frank Eanes. Hazel asked me what I thought was really important. I told her that I feel best when I cook for people, that when I cook I feel a connection to both the ingredients and the diners. I guess I thrive on that connection. I would love to do a complete earth-to-table garden/restaurant. Hazel and I joked that we should start one when she gets back from Mississippi. I'm guessing I'll need to provide capital.

The future is misty, murky, uncertain, and in my case, subject to the whims of shifting volcanic ash clouds from that damned volcano in Iceland. Just yesterday, I about pissed myself when I heard that airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland had been closed again. Now, off to pack...

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