Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Commencin' to Live in the Real World

In true Griswold fashion, the first leg of our road trip involved visiting family. My cousin had one daughter graduating from high school and another graduating college. Rather momentous.

Now these two girls have always had a more than special place in my heart. K. was probably the first baby I ever fell truly, madly, deeply in love with. I adored her. Is that redundant? No matter. It can't really be overstated.

A few years later, when my cousin had J., I learned a lesson most folks don't learn till they have their own second child. J. taught me how our hearts can grow. When my cousin asked me to serve as J.'s godmother I was flattered beyond words.

So this weekend my cousin had a party to celebrate her girls. K. graduated college with a teaching degree and J. graduated high school. As we arrived at the party, both girls were there to greet us with hugs. J. got to me first. I hugged her and said, "I'm so proud of you! Congratulations!"

She said something on the order of, "Yeah, thanks."

Then I got to K. I said the same thing to her. "I'm so proud of you! Congratulations!"

She said, "I know, isn't it sad?"

It seems like an odd answer, but I totally understood. I squeezed her a little tighter and said, "I know. It'll be ok, though, I promise."

But I lied a little bit.

Not a lot. Not a big lie. Not even a lie, really, I guess. Because things, of course, will indeed be ok.

But they will never again be college.

K. loved college. She found her peeps in college. She fit. It was good. And now it's over and you know what? That IS sad!

I remember my own college graduation. My parents had a little get together at the house afterwards and I remember watching people arrive and thinking, "Why are so many people coming to celebrate the end of my LIFE?"

(when I complain about my daughter and her drama, I never say she didn't get it honest)

And that was the difference between J.'s experience and K.'s. In semantic terms, J. had a commencement. Finishing high school (with high honors! go J.!) was just a stepping stone - an important step towards the next exciting chapter of her life. A beginning. She is excited about her future. (and K. is, no doubt, thinking right along with me, "well, what's not to be excited about? Her future is COLLEGE!!!) K. had more of of a graduation. An ending, leaving something behind - something beloved. Something she wasn't quite ready to say good-bye to. Where she's going next is a little more uncertain.

Oh, K.

Oh, sweetie.

The post-collegiate world IS scary. And it ISN'T the same. But it can be pretty wonderful, too. Just a different kind of wonderful.



MiMi said...

Talk about bringin' it all back. This is so true!

the girl said...

I love that you can see the girls' different perspectives on this one.

It really is true that finishing high school is like the start of your 'real' life - the opportunities seem endless and you can't wait to see where life takes you. You god-daughter seems excited to take the next step in her life, and she's lucky to have you there to cheer her on.

Can't comment personally on what finishing uni feels like - I'm 24 and have been in tertiary education since I was 19 (took a gap year after high school). Sadly, there's no end in sight just yet, as I'm in a medical-related field and will probably be studying in some form for the rest of the conceivable future (ie. at least 'til age 30... Haha!) In some ways, I welcome the end of uni. SO sick of it. But I really can appreciate where K is coming from, too. My man finished his undergrad degree at age 21 and STILL has no idea what he wants to do with it (needless to say, he went back to university...)


Alex the Girl said...

No kidding, huh? I wish you could know my girls, they need an aunt like you.

Anita said...

When reading this post I was thinking back to both of my graduations and how I was so excited to begin both new phases of my life. College was a nice step, because well for me I had the benefit of moving away, but mom and dad still supporting me, and upon finishing there, it was scary and exciting, like saying, hey world look at me, I did it, now give me a job............please....LOL.
Your trip sounds like a really good one!

Pam said...

How well I remember that "set adrift" feeling after college graduation. Those first tentative steps into the real world can be very certain. Congrats to both girls!

Unknown Mami said...

It's true, graduating from college is scary. It's almost like you're in shock for awhile.

mama-face said...

hey this is weird...

cause I had 2 graduates this year myself; one college, one high school...

the college girl is a K. and you guessed it...

the high school girl? J.!

It's been a roller coaster of emotions for both of them. Everything changing, everything is new.

Carpe diem. (no idea on how to make that accent thingee.)

Housewife Savant said...

Speaking as The Smartest Woman in the Universe I have two words for K; grad school.

It was way more funner than college.


This is so cute! Stopping by from SITS to leave some hump day love!

Grand Pooba said...

Oh how I miss my college days too! So many good memories! (And a few not so good ones;)

But life goes on and now it's career time! Whether her career is out in the work field or at home on the battle front, she's got a lot more to learn!

Kathy B! said...

Each graduation, kindergarten and on, opens a new set of doors. It really is a complex time.

I like how you wrote this. It really takes me back.

WhisperingWriter said...

Very true.

It IS scary but wonderful.

MaryRC said...

oh life never comes to an end but change is tough and can be sad too. but the prospects of the future are always something to look forward to. i get it, but i dont get it. ya know?

Gibby said...

Oh wow, I totally get it! I bawled as I closed our door for the last time in Athens. My roomie (who had been with me all 4 years) and I cried the entire way home, singing Crosby, Stills, and Nash the whole way. Surely there was nothing left for us in life that would ever be this good.

Luckily, it did get pretty good, though. She'll just have to wait and see.