Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Apologia to the Classmates whose Graduation Gowns I Pinned Together During the Ceremony

Well, first of all, I'm sorry. I have ceremonial issues. It's knee-jerk, instinctive. When people become very serious, I get nervous, sometimes giddy. Remember how I almost didn't get to play in the state tournament because I became hysterical when the bishops came to visit -- all of them in their gowns on the stage? (Of course you don't remember. Because you've long since forgotten about me and my field hockey aspirations. I'm the one who still sometimes dreams of a freshly mown field, my hockey stick in hand, the solid thunk of the ball -- in my high socks and my plaid skirt and mouth guard.)

One of the problems was that I was so ready to leave already that I couldn't fathom anything but relief and flip-the-bird joy. I'd been suffocating for about a year. I remember walking along with the principal at one point in the halls telling him how I felt. "Kids these days. They drive me crazy. How do you stand them?"

So there I was -- with some time on my hands, an abundance of safety pins, and an abundance of gown sleeves lined up in the stadium row in front of me. I was jerky, impulsive, stupid. I barely gave it a thought. I worked quickly, quietly.

And then your row was called. You all stood up. Shuffling down the rows, you were all so close that none of you yet realized that you were attached. That happened once you hit the gym floor.

It was momentary, really. You saw that you were attached -- by what, how? It didn't matter. You flapped the wings of your gowns and, for a suspended moment, it was beautiful -- the flapping, the pulling, the springing loose -- one and then the next, you were free of each other.

I didn't laugh. I just looked on, thinking that you represented how I felt more than any ceremony ever could. Flapping, yanking, and breaking free.

This isn't much of an apology. Did you ever even look back and wonder what had hung you up? Did you find a little snapped safety pin in your gown sleeve later and wonder who the hell might have put that there? I don't even know if you noticed. The day was big and loud and fast. It flew by -- the way days tend to do.

And there's no apology that will fix that. I wish there were.