Graduation: the act of receiving a diploma. Perhaps the claiming of freedom from any more academic studies.
At least, that second part is how I view my transition from my Undergrad program to the real world. Reality doesn’t hand us a diploma saying, “Congrats! You’re a A-class graduate in Real World studies!”. Reality is just what it is. No grades to mark your progress, no tests to challenge your wit and charisma, and definitely no professors to suck up to. Instead, reality is life’s lifelong test. Whether you can survive it or not is completely up to you.
Sara Leighton, my best friend since the fifth grade when we both found ourselves drooling over Tommy Everstein, smiles brightly beside me as we prepare to throw our mortarboards as high as we can into the cool spring air. She pushes a loose blond curl behind her ear and turns to me, her blue eyes gleaming with pride. “You know, half of these people will end up back home right after the ceremony.”
I snort and quickly look down as a guy with lanky brown hair looks back at us. I jab Sara in the arm and she pretends to be hurt. Beside her Ellie Brown, our other best friend shakes her head. “Girls, seriously,” she shrugs, her long, china-black hair down her back drifting softly in the wind. “It’s nobody’s fault that we’re going to spend the next four months somewhere warm and great.”
Her posh faux accent causes Sara to fall victim to a hysterical fit of the giggles. While people around us are shushing us so they can hear the Valedictorian announce how we’ll all do good things, blah, blah, blah.
“But honestly,” I say, calming down a bit. “Sara has a point, Ellie, we’ll be long gone while everyone else settles down.”
Ellie makes a disgusted face and Sara stares at me with one eyebrow raised. “We’re twenty-three. Screw settling.”
I smile at her and look up into the baby blue sky. Several clouds drift by rapidly, as if in a hurry to meet us at our destination when we’re done here.The graduation is Toronto, Ontario, which means that we’ve got a semi-long airplane ride. Our parents aren’t just here to commemorate our graduation from the strangle-holds of school, they’re also here to say goodbye.
Sara, Ellie, and I have no idea what may happen in Los Angeles, California this summer, but sometimes that’s just how reality is: it drags us away from our comforts and finds us in completely different situations.