The scene: a football stadium, Catholic high school, upper-income neighborhood. Late May, hot and humid Friday morning.
The cast: 200 newly-minted high school graduates in green cap and gown, 1000 spectators in the stands, 50 or so faculty and staff in black gowns and multi-colored "hoods". One of them was me--black gown, pink and purple trim (isn't it interesting that pink is the official color symbolizing music?).
The actions included, but are not limited to, the following: sweating profusely, listening to speeches, watching 200 young people receive diplomas, sweating profusely, listening to Pomp and Circumstance being played over and over and over and over.....oh, and did I mention sweating?
But when it was over, and time to leave, I had a moment in which I wasn't sure I was going to hold it together emotionally. As much as I've had my spirit broken by that place, I'm gonna miss it too, in some ways. And as I walked around afterwards, looking for some of my students to give them one last hug or handshake, I felt drops of H2O leaking out of the corner of my left eye. And it wasn't sweat. I was determined not to spring a big leak, at least not in front of everyone. I managed to wipe away the drops, but they kept being instantly replaced by more. Slow and steady leak.....
I really didn't find the students I wanted to see, in the crush of people trying to get out of the heat. I chatted with a couple of teachers, several of whom still seemed to have not heard I was leaving, and then walked to my van. And that was it. Took off the gown and hood, and drove off of the island. Door officially closed on that chapter of my life. I didn't expect to react the way I did today. It's almost like I graduated too. When the speakers talked about "leaving this place that's been such a part of our lives, going out and making our mark on the world, making a difference" etc, it felt almost like they were talking to me too. Hope I can live up to the expectations--the ones I set for myself.