I guess I was due for a less-than-perfect weekend, just to cap off all my babbling about Spring bliss. But I have to say, the last three days of Ithaca-set graduation festivities still threw me for a loop, what with the screaming and the crying and the cruelly non-alcoholic punch at every freaking reception.
Is it just me, or are graduations kind of inevitably awful?
I mean, I adore the pomp and circumstance as much as the next devotee of Harry Potter and the Ivy League. And I couldn’t be more proud of Dave’s brother, a budding meteorologist who’s taking a chance on a career that scoffs at the idea of handing out health insurance and a livable wage, all so he can follow his life-long dream. (Literally, lifelong – he informed me at his Science of Earth System major ceremony that he had an epiphany of sorts during the blizzard of ’96. Also, his nickname is ‘the Blizz.’ Pretty cute.)
But adorable career aspirations or not, the next time someone wraps up their four years (or seven, in the case of one astrophysicist-to-be), I plan on watching the ceremony via CCTV with the old people. As long as it’s old people I’m not related to. You can also expect me to periodically sneak sips from a flask of tequila stowed tastefully under my white sun dress.
Because I firmly believe that commencements are essentially logistical disasters with some fancy robes thrown in to soften the blow. And should not be endured without liquor.
I was trying to explain my theory (regular family members + estranged family members + insanely hot/cold/rainy weather + decades of unexplored issues clearly deserving of several therapy sessions = an event to be dreaded and endured in the same way as dental work, or vacations to developing countries) to Dave on the drive up to Cornell, and he was all incredulous and shit. But that was before the three massive blow out fights (you know, the kind that end with a mutual understanding that you two will be walking in opposite directions as soon as it is feasible to exit the vehicle.) And the emergency late-night, tear-tinged phone call to my best friend from the lobby of a Hampton Inn. Not to mention the escorting of the three elderly grandparents up and down what seemed like hundreds of steps, and the sibling beer pong party where I was repeatedly assumed to be his sister. (Maybe that explains why his parents got us a hotel room with two separate beds?)
Which reminds me, his parents got us a hotel room with two separate beds. Added bonus: the hotel was attached to a Wegman’s! And populated by mulleted women. But I digress.
In the end, I think we made it home with minimal permanent damage done, save a few sunburnt spots and a dependance on having dessert after every meal (this happens to me every freaking vacation, I swear to god.)
Most importantly, though, I think I officially won my “the image of graduation perfection is a total farce” argument. On Sunday afternoon, while indulging in the graduate’s 18th photo op, a sudden hush fell over the group as drama started unfolding across the street. Still clad in her cap and gown, a girl was screaming at the top of her lungs at someone who appeared to be her mother. After about five minutes of berating – complete with violent hand motions! – she turned around and started walking away, only to reverse course a few seconds later to come back for more screaming. I turned to Dave with a smug little smile, satisfied both because I’d obviously proven my point and, simultaneously, lost the award for Cornell Commencement 2010 Most Obnoxious Attendee to a clear front-runner. With graduation drama, it’s always relative.