While I was waiting for new lenses to be installed on my eyeglasses, I walked around West Towne Mall (yes, I can still make things out without glasses) and browsed through a couple of stores such as Windsor, where I spotted and photographed the display you see to your right. As you can see, the mannequins are decked out in some awesome looking dresses, and in a respectable neutral color for late spring/early summer (off white). Look, too, at their feet; those are some pretty gnarly heels they have going there.
As you can also tell, there is also some serious gown action going on. You know, the kind of gown that goes well with a mortar board on the head. Yep, it’s the second half of May, which means graduation time. By now, your nearest high school or college will have had or are about to have their annual graduation ceremonies. Here in Madison, the University of Wisconsin already had their ceremony a couple of weeks ago. And this weekend, my oldest niece will walk down the gymnasium aisle, take her diploma, turn her tassel, and enter the post-high school world.
And that last sentence is something I’m still trying to wrap my brain around. It seems like it was only yesterday that Em was running around her parents’ yard or watching Nickelodeon. Now, she’s completed her senior year of high school, getting all her needed credits a couple of months early (she really cracked the books). And she still has a side job at a nearby nursing home. On top of that, she picked up a steady new boyfriend, and they already have the itch to find a house together. I sure hope they take things very slow, though; young love can sometimes pull one’s mind towards distant directions.
What I hope Em does before her graduation ceremony on Saturday is give herself some time for quiet contemplation. Next week will mark 30 years since my own graduation from high school. My mom tried to make a big deal out of it (well, as big a deal as our family could afford), inviting a couple of our relatives over for an afternoon pre-graduation luncheon (the ceremony was that evening).
I, however, let them have their fun. I’ve never been a party person, for one, and I wanted some “me” time for, well, quiet contemplation. Which is why I took a 12-minute walk to a nearby park. Well, it was actually a softball diamond with a swing set for the kids. Where we lived in the woods, we took any definition of “park” we could get.
In the short time I was there, I just sat on the swing, rocked back and forth, and thought about how far I had come: A couple of relocations from one town to another. One school after another. One good or bad grade after another. A few ups. Quite a lot of downs. But I made it through it all. Yeah, it felt somewhat exhausting, but I made it through. And, now, I was ready for one last round of high school. One last day (well, evening actually) with my classmates. And one grand entrance in a blue and gold gown (our school colors) turning into one grand exit into the real world and a new set of ups and downs that awaited me.
I kind of hoped, too, that my parents had their own contemplation time that day about their son entering… well, not quite adulthood but more post-high school life. (I was 17, almost 18, so I don’t think I could quite consider myself an adult at that point. Yes, your opinion may vary.) I hoped, too, that my classmates had their own thoughts about how far they had come and what awaited them.
When you think of it, really, everyone should have at least that one brief moment of perspective when they venture from one stage of life to the next: Single life to committed relationship. Schooling to the working world. High school to… well, whatever awaits my niece and the millions of those who will pick up their diplomas this month or early next month. Take time to that have “me” time and think about that milestone that’s being passed on the road of life.