Saturday, August 20, 2011

On Graduating

I walked because my mom demanded it. She's a single mother and I'm her only child, so of course I had to do the cap and gown thing. Here's some stuff that happened:

  1. Lots of sun and heat and sweat
  2. A long exodus from a distant parking lot to a huge auditorium
  3. Re-learning how to walk single-file
  4. Astonishingly dull speech-making by people I've never heard of and will likely never hear of again
  5. A bemused regard for the teleprompter that fate placed right behind me and to my right
  6. Immense gratitude for iPhones (and Sudoku)
  7. Admiration for Sarah and her GoPro camera
And that was just the first day. 

Joel Ackerman, bless him eternally, provided much needed comic relief, complete with Harry Potter glasses and a glittery wand. Thanks to him, I now know the words to the graduation song/music:

I'm telling you white boy
Stay away from me
(repeated ad infinitum)

The next morning involved waking up at 6am to be at the Harris Fine Arts Center (HFAC) for convocation (I discovered that this word, literally translated, means "assembly"), which was much less wearying than commencement, since instead of football stories by Alumni Association cronies, we got stories from students about more relatable achievements and experiences. I've long suspected that "fine arts" students are more interesting, on average, than pretty much any other kind of student, and our college's convocation was further proof of that notion. 

And then I walked across a stage, got handed a fake diploma, hugged Amy Jensen (whose presence was extremely welcome), got my picture taken, and sat back in my seat until it was over and they released all of us into the wild. 

What lasts is the dismal feeling of closure. I know, closure is supposed to feel good. Not getting it is supposed to be that unsurvivable psychological condition that causes depression. But closure isn't always  pleasant. I wanted to avoid thinking about the fact that I was finished at BYU, and I was doing a pretty good job of it until they forced me to don cheap, scratchy fabric, put a board on my head, and heard me into a huge colosseum with hundreds of other students dressed in like manner. 

The most surreal component was the constant stream of always-surprising congratulations from family and friends. As if the entire exercise was actually some kind of victory. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have finished my degree, and I've loved--no adored the vast majority of my time at BYU, but the arbitrary pomp and circumstance of graduation ceremonies...where's the victory there? Most of my contemporaries didn't walk, evidenced by the vanishingly small number of us in actual attendance. So what was the point?

I'm sorry. I know what's happening here. I'm a little broken up about leaving what has become my home, dear to me in a way and to a degree that I cannot adequately describe. Graduation was a long and forceful reminder of it, and now I'm venting. It's hard, this leaving business. I don't remember signing up for it, though I know I did in the very act of coming here in the first place. But this time, this ending event, was always so far off. It was far off right up until the day it happened, and I found myself saying, "Wait a minute," with a frown, "I'm not comfortable with this." And then graduation had its way with me, and now I just feel...

Well, homesick.


  1. Jordan, I'd like to be the first to not congratulate you, as you wish. But also to offer my regrets that I wasn't there to watch you hug Amy. I'll be looking for you in the credits....

  2. I agree. I just moved up to Salt Lake and my homesickness has already taken me back to Provo at least twice a week. Let me know how the clean break/ move across the country treats you.

  3. Sorry I missed this when it was first posted - for some reason it showed up when I clicked on my new little Google+ circles as the first thing to have happened...

    Anyway, I had to admit that now I will be wondering if my daughter feels the same way when she goes through commencement exercises in about 5-6 years. I'm a single mom, she's my only child. Maybe I won't make her do it. Maybe she'll want to do it. Maybe we will fly to Paris instead...

    Anyway, I really hope Boston is treating you well. I'm still jealous that you are living in one of the places I'd love to be!


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