Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grads


The seniors, with their water based paints on the sides of their cars, and on the back windows and trunks. "Class of 2008!!!" , "Look Out!", "Free, Free At Last!!!". The tassels in school colors hanging from the windows. The optimism, the naivite, the excitement. The uncompromising expectations. The sense of stepping off a cliff into the unknown and the urgency of youth.

Graduation week is here. I stood before a group of graduates last night, delivering a speech that will be forgotten this morning, hoping instead to impress memories with tone and excited gestures. The students were enthusiastic, trying to savor a fleeting moment, trying to understand the signficance of this moment of passage, if it possessed any at all.

As I spoke, I studied the faces of the adults in the audience. The parents. The grandparents. The aunts and uncles. Their expressions were more telling. Satisfaction. Pride. Envy. Regret. Wistful thoughts about people who exist in memory only, the world having morphed them into something else, into someone unrecognizable.

"Stewart," someone said, as I moved through the guests, meeting relatives and friends. "Will you remember me?"

I paused...and at the same time, lied and told the truth.



I

8 comments:

x_X_xThe Black Rabbitx_X_x said...

Wow Stu.

I hope you lied and said no, 'cause there is NO way you'll forget me.

Yeah.

I went there.

And how was the cerimony all in all? I wasn't there ( brushing a horse and sutting her hair ) so...
you should give me the scoop.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't remember any content from any of the many, many graduation ceremonies I've attended. But I do remember people and faces. And I've lied a few truths at those times as well.

spyscribbler said...

Awww. It's amazing. When I first started teaching, I couldn't imagine ever forgetting a student. Now, I forget details, names, stuff.

But something remains, some essence. They all leave their mark on me. :-)

SQT said...

I'm still trying to figure out what you said...

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm with SQT...

Stewart Sternberg said...

Lara and SQT, I wish I could elaborate, but then I wouldn't be Stewart.

I actually remember most of my students, Charles. I remember once sitting down with a pen and writing as many of their names down as I could to refresh my memory. I have a close relationship to so many of them.

The thing that is crazy is when they come back to you after five or more years, so changed.

James B. said...

Awe, this made me wistful for my graduation day. I wish we'd had you speak. We had Bill Cosby instead. I hate Jello brand Gelatin now.

James B. said...

BTW, my blog has moved. If you wanna update the address on your blog roll, it's now http://miamiherald.typepad.com/burnettiquette

Come and visit, please! We're doing Ask James Anything Friday, and leaving the post up through the weekend. It used to be all fun when we did AJAF, but this weekend's post has been dominated by people turning the comments section into a political forum - leaning largely in one direction. We're missing plain old non-partisan common sense dialogue. So come on over and ask a question, and bring a legion of fans with you.