My daughter graduated from high school last Wednesday.
Loaded statement, that.
How, in a word, would I describe how I felt as the winding rivulets of Columbia Blue and white entered the stadium from the far end and slowly engulfed the track's north turn? How can I accurately portray in a single word, the intensity of my emotion as Pomp and Circumstance ushered the graduates in front of the bleachers, most wearing grins you'd be lucky to see once in a lifetime of Christmas mornings?
I think the word is "rocked."
As soon as they turned down the home stretch toward their seats on the fifty yard line, I could make out faces. Parading slowly by was a group who'd encapsulated the past eighteen years of both a childhood and a parenthood. I gazed upon the procession, a surreal documentary streaming through my mind as each face unearthed a memory nugget, however small, from earlier days.
Most commencement ceremonies end with the hurling of caps into the air. Not this one. Didn't have to worry about Great Aunt Eufagenia's bloodshot eye being impaled by an errant mortarboard and leaking gelatinous goo onto the toupee of the guy in front of her. Nary a grad wanted any damage done to this or her custom-detailed head covering.
She spent two hours decorating that thing, ensuring that most of the rooms in our house had been lightly dusted with a sparkly reminder of where she'd be going in the fall.
Here she is with one of her best friends,Trevor.
We love Trevor—and his parents. He'll be a Husky soon, bless his heart. I'm going to encourage my girl to keep in touch with Trevor, maybe grab some frozen yogurt or catch a movie when they're both home. And if, you know, they eventually find themselves with college degrees and jobs and having some sort of children together, that wouldn't suck at all.
She and Jake chose to walk together.
Jake's also highly awesome, as are his mom and dad. As an added bonus, these two will together tread the mossy climes of Western Washington University this autumn.
Grandma and Grandpa came.
These people have cowboyed up, rain or shine, for just over twelve thousand of her t-ball, soccer, volleyball and basketball games, as well as miscellaneous performing arts and school pageants.
We know how those can be.
And how could I neglect mentioning the two or three times per school year when they'd drop everything and motor up from Puyallup to care for a pink-eyed tot? Yeah, gold cord for the grandparents.
Last Wednesday was ridiculous in its riches. Here's what happened on June 12, in chronological order:
1. After a six-week construction period, our remodel was completed.
2. My wife was offered and accepted a teaching position she'd been pursuing for months.
3. Did I mention the whole high school graduation thing?
And finally, as I reclined in the living room that night waiting to drop my kid off at her grad night, I scrolled though the usual websites on my iPod. A single email popped onto the screen in the bold typeface of a message not yet opened. In the preview pane, the words read, "Thank you for your query regarding Ben's Fall…"
That's the name of my book. For the past month or so, I've been sending query letters and sample chapters to literary agencies who are currently accepting submissions. I received a handful of prompt rejections, most saying things like, "It's not really for me, but good luck finding a home for it."
I tapped the screen and the remainder of the message appeared: "…I would like to take a look at the full manuscript. Please forward it as a Microsoft Word document, and I will get back to you as soon as possible."
As if the day hadn't proven to be enough of an emotional meat grinder, apparently Wednesday wasn't quite done making sausage. I read it and then read it again and then read it about nine more times.
Someone who works in New York City wants to read the whole thing! OMfreakingG.
Being of Irish heritage, I grappled with the idea of divulging item number four, since I don't want to jinx anything. But what the hell, if it happens it happens, and if it doesn't it doesn't, right? It's a step closer, after Wednesday.