After the ceremony, my mother had said that it was “the perfect day” – the sky threatened to rain, and it did eventually drizzle, but otherwise it remained a stolid grey throughout.
Graduation is one of those things that you always know eventually comes, but when it actually arrives it feels too sudden. At least that’s how I felt, having neglected my blog during my entire senior year because life was just so busy. Regardless, I think time just keeps rolling along despite the best of intentions.
So. Graduation at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. It’s the only time I’ve ever sat beneath the bandshell, where all the seats are. Usually I’m staring at it from the back of the lawn during one of the free concerts, but sitting in one of those red plastic seats was something special. The school was also nice enough to put a raincoat and bottle of water under every seat – not that I used either of them, but it was a gesture that was much appreciated (especially by those who wasn’t sheltered from the rain, or who were thirsty).
The ceremony was a little confusing at first, since the school didn’t give graduates any instructions whatsoever apart from “show up with your ticket and guests”. So I ended up running back to the check-in table at the back of the lawn in my 4-inch heels. Hm.
Anyway, after the presentation of honorary doctorates and the speech-songs by Patti Smith came the long line of students to receive their diploma. I was last to go, so I had the pleasure of observing how other students received their degree.
Some had a dazed look. Some were smiling. Some went in handmade clothing, while others went for the bizarre, artistic look (e.g. pyjamas). This is art school, people. It’s what we were taught! There was also one person who purposely dropped his pants after shaking the school president’s hand.
I think I was one of the ‘dazed’ ones, because even though I knew exactly what my body was doing, I had no idea of what was going on around me apart from a steady roar of excitement. Later on my friend told me she screamed my name, and my family kept asking me whether I remembered how the presenter pronounced my name, but I had no idea how to answer either. Maybe I was too overwhelmed at the prospect that for the first time in the past 19 years, I wasn’t a student anymore.
When does one become a ‘graduate’? Is it when you receive the letter of confirmation? When you shake the president’s hand? When your hands touch the diploma – which by the way, doesn’t actually contain your diploma? When he says “with the power vested in me” and says you are a graduate? When months later, the actual diploma arrives on your doorsteps?
Well. Whatever the answer is, here’s a big congratulations to the Class of 2011. We made it, and whether we believe it or not, we’ve crossed the finish line. And that’s something to be proud of.