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10:59 p.m. - May 22, 2004
A satisfying day
Long day is over: Three commencement exercises and an early-morning consult with a teacher about assessment models. Fortunately the commencements occurred in the same location and I was given the use of a private break room so I had a place to read between acts, as it were.

I love interpreting commencement. The music, the robes - the literal pomp - has always been to me what I imagine the rosary is to Catholics: Just beyond my understanding yet comforting in a way that I cannot articulate. I suppose it's allowance to indulge in nostalgia but it's much more elemental than that: I go because I like to see the families cheer for the graduates. Somehow it makes me feel connected to this great mass of people with whom I'm solely the guy who waves his hands around next to the speaker. I am far more than a fly on a wall; my eyes tear up, too.

My family has never attended any of my graduations. It still smarts in a way that has mostly ebbed but not wholly. Does this make me a silly person to feel this way? I no longer feel anger or regret, just a brief tinge of disappointment. My high school graduation was at the same time and date as the graduation of the school where my parents taught, so that was a no-brainer. As an undergraduate, my exercises were the day after my brother's graduation from high school and nobody could make it from California. For my master's degree, it was my sister's turn to flip the tassel. The photos I have of me at graduation are with other people's families. I wonder if I am a hateful person deep down (or maybe not so deep) and am oblivious about it, hateful enough that not only do I drive people away, but have so removed myself from my family that I don't register at a level beyond late birthday cards. One reaps what one sows, that's for sure.

This is one of my favorite photos of me, though I say differently when someone sees it Ė my face looks bloated or something and is definitely moonish in this photo. But you know, I pull it out of the box where I store (read: throw) photographs once in a long while not because it reminds me of the fun I had in college or anything like that, but because I had friends at each of my graduations. I got to borrow families Ė or I was borrowed Ė and while now I wonder if itís because they felt sorry for me, wonder if my friends had whispered letís invite him, too because Iím that way, I am lucky in that I had people who insisted on taking photos and cheering and making far too much noise. And how much I resisted it, thought how foolish or what a scene, but in truth it made everything okay.

Being a better friend is difficult for me. Any closer than armís length and I donít know what to do as if Iím adrift on a rickety vessel. Bathsheba points out she never knows if Iím doing okay or not because I donít share either good things or bad things, consigning her to a shadowy Purgatory where she has to make informed guesses. I think sheís the only real friend I have left, or someone whom I consider to be a friend. Everybody else is fading away Ė no, itís me pulling away Ė and I discourage potential new friendships. I donít know what Iím afraid of with people and can see misanthropy beginning in my feet.

Hmm. To go from commencements to this.

I had a really nice day.


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