|Can you tell how awkward I was?|
Six years ago (oh man, I can't believe it's been six years already! I'm old!!), I sat in a very different seat. I wore a bright yellow gown, a hideous cap that made my large face look even bigger, and an orange ribbon for my best friend Kellie. Though I was nervous and excited, there was a hint of sadness...my best friend wouldn't be able to make it.
I sat through several graduations before my own. Usually they were my sisters', and sadly, they usually had a moment of silence, because the kids at Shepherd High School couldn't seem to make it out alive. Laura's graduation was especially gut wrenching as they showed four pictures behind the podium, and asked for a moment of silence for the graduates who weren't in attendance. Kellie, my best friend's picture was up there. Kara, Laura's best friend was up there. Two other graduates, guys I was less familiar with, were up there. In the silence, there was a collective cry through the auditorium because these were fresh wounds.
These were the types of graduations I was used to, the gut wrenching ones that played a slide show of happier times with Kenny Chesney singing, "Young," or Vitamin C, "Friends Forever (Graduation)". They got me, every time.
This winter, I had the honor of coaching what I'd dubbed my all star team. We met on Sundays for four weeks. There was a brilliant girl who was the valedictorian of her high school, and also established a dive team, pretty much single-handedly. There were other people, cheerleaders who placed in competitions, racers...etc. Overall, I was always impressed to hear about their accomplishments each week. On the last Sunday, the group asked if they could friend me on Facebook, and I said yes. One of them took me up on the offer. Her name was Emily.
|My all star team and me (in red)|
Since the winter, we've been chatting pretty regularly and keeping each other updated on our lives. She's an aspiring veterinarian, and overall awesome human being who started her own foundation. IN HIGH SCHOOL. She talked about her graduation speech, and knowing that I'm a writer asked if I could look it over and offer suggestions. Okay, so you guys thing querying is nerve wracking? This about leveled me. I didn't want to say something wrong, or impose too much because this was her address! Like, this was huge! So I offered what I could, making smart-ass remarks here and there, and in the end, she thanked me, and let me run through it one more time.
It was around then, that I asked if I could attend her graduation. I felt like an invasive species, moving in where I didn't belong, but dangit, I taught her over the winter, and we're friends. I wanted to be there for her because #1, the people at her school sucked (bullies) and #2, I remember how awesome it felt when not only my family showed up at my graduation, but my friends.
|Her, walking in with Cherio, a service dog in training :)|
When the band started playing Pomp and Circumstance, the people in attendance rose and greeted the graduates. Truth be told, I'm only used to seeing Emily in a helmet, goggles, and a pink jacket. I was terrified that I wouldn't recognize her. I sort of told her family this, and then laughed saying, "I'm really just looking for the fluffy hair," because that's what I remembered from the day I didn't have lunch money and she "tipped" me five bucks so I could eat. (Thanks again, Em).
I ended up sitting through the graduation with the chair digging into my back, listening to her speech (which rocked, by the way!) and cheering louder than I had on the mountains. It was also kind of cool because since I've redirected my life to focus more fully on writing, I hadn't attended a graduation since college, so this adventure doubled as research (as My Sister's Memories, and Character Defects have a graduation piece, and After Elizabeth may, too).
|I am so proud of her!|
Long story short, Emily is one of many of my friends graduating this year. So here's to you; Eli, Annika, Emily, D.J., Matty, and anyone else who makes up the class of 2012 (even if some of you graduated college, not high school :) ). You're all amazing and thanks for being an awesome part of my life :)
(If I missed anyone, lemme know, and I'll add you to the list, too :) )