So, what’s a two-week gap among friends, huh? Sorry about that — there’s been a lot going on, some of which I’ll cover in a potpourri in a day or two.
But in the meantime…
15 years and about 50 weeks ago, I accepted a position as an assistant prof here in Mondoville. When I took the gig, I mentioned I had a daughter who was ready to start first grade, but I referred to her as “a member of Newberry’s Class of 2019.”
Turns out I was right.
This afternoon, a whole slew of folks packed into the college gym/basketball arena for the Spring commencement exercise. I always enjoy these things — I like seeing the kids moving into their futures — but I was particularly attentive this afternoon, as it was the Spawn’s turn to take the walk. I had a third-row seat in the faculty section, behind a couple of emeriti and a few senior colleagues, but I could see quite well. Somewhere in the stands, Mrs. M and the Spawn’s Main Squeeze were watching as well, but I didn’t spot them.
Of course, some of that could have been the sweat in my eyes. The temperature was in the mid- to high-80s, and South Carolina’s famous humidity overwhelmed the gym’s AC unit, so the event proceeded in terrarium-like conditions. That was compounded by the fact that my academic regalia is 100% polyester and breathes about like a Hefty bag. To top things off, the faculty traditionally forms a gantlet along the sidewalk into the arena, and we applaud the kids as they proceed into the arena; our procession follows theirs. So I spent about 15 minutes standing outside before we entered the terrarium. I’m pretty sure that after about the first ten minutes, I was sweating gravy.
But the show must go on, and after the usual formalities, the kids got to pick up their degrees. At the appropriate moment, one of our theater profs announced, “Emily Bay Moore, Major in English, minors in Creative Writing and History, from Newberry, South Carolina,” and the Dean added, “Ms. Moore is graduating with Summerland Honors and magna cum laude.” She was hooded (Mondoville began hooding our grads a few years ago), shook the president’s hand, and got her sheepskin. I nodded to her as she made her way back to her seat.
After she and about 150 classmates had gone through the process, we were dismissed to the portico at the admin building for a reception. As soon as I got there, I ducked into a back room and divested myself of my regalia, and then went back outside to the reception. I couldn’t find any of our party, so I made my way back to the gym, and eventually we all met up. Observing the wisdom of her elder, the Spawn stashed her gown with my stuff, but kept her mortarboard, sorority stole, and honor cord from Sigma Tau Delta. She found some of her other favorite faculty members, received congrats, and shared hugs with them and with the occasional classmate. She also introduced folks to the Main Squeeze, who came down from Maryland for the occasion. (Yes, that’s a reason she’s going to UM-College Park for grad school, but not the only reason.)
After a bit, we all headed back to the Mid-Century Mondohaus to cool off and unwind, and a good thing, too.
Today, 4 May 19, is a date with considerable personal significance for me. My maternal grandfather was born 110 years ago on this date. Unfortunately, today also marks the fortieth anniversary of the death of my cousin and closest childhood friend, about whom I’ve written previously. And now, it’s the Spawn’s graduation, and we’re celebrating that, as we should. I believe Jeff would approve of that, and I approve of the idea that dates, like the lives of which they are a part, can bring joys and sorrows, beginnings and endings. And we notice and accept them both.
So congratulations to Mondoville’s Class of 2019. I’m proud of you all, but trust you’ll indulge me in favoring one in particular.