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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our girl graduated


Our daughter graduated from Cornell this weekend, a glorious, physically exhausting and emotionally fraught three days. It was blinding hot in Ithaca, and there were three, count them, three separate graduation ceremonies—convocation outdoors on Saturday with speaker James Franco (I confess I thought him a lightweight choice at first, but he was actually very good and spoke for the perfect length of time), the whole school commencement on Sunday morning, again outdoors, and finally the calling of names and handshake on stage with the dean right after, this ceremony moved mercifully indoors.

I cried more than once. At certain moments I could barely contain the utter beauty and perfection of everything. At others, I wished deeply for a do-over. Our girl was radiant with her high beam smile, she and her friends fresh from a week of nonstop celebrating, with white water rafting and wine tours and messy nights at their usual late night haunts. Her final report card in the bank, she posted all As, she was determined to make the most of these last days with friends before the melancholy of packing up and saying goodbyes to a charmed moment in time that will never again be.


Her cheering section consisted of her dad and me, her brother and cousin, and two of our heart children. We didn't invite anyone else, because the hotel situation in town was impossible, and price gouging was in full effect. As we sweltered in the hundred degree day in the bleachers of the football arena, I was glad it was just us. My friend Leslie, whose son was graduating from Bard College the same day, texted me that his grandmother fainted and had to be rushed to the hospital and an aunt was suffering from heat stroke. It was crazy hot like that where we were too, with EMTs walking through the crowd handing out water bottles. I could only imagine how the poor graduates in their black robes over business formal wear must have been feeling. Everyone prayed for the ominous looking clouds in the distance to roll over the sun, and bring some relief.



Then, in the middle of the ceremony the sky opened up, and rain poured down. And this wasn't some dainty little sprinkle, it was deluge, the kind you just surrender to and allow yourself to be soaked.



I did get some lovely photos of my girl marching into the stadium with her class, before the rain, her and her three main hotelie cohorts (she was a student at Cornell's Hotel School). I call them the hotelie dream team, there for each other from day one. I loved seeing them march in together, ending as they began.


And later, there were photo ops with our girl and her boyfriend, who also graduated this past weekend, he from the engineering school, a brainiac with a gentle heart, who looks out for my girl, as she looks out for him. There was something very sweet about them going through this rite of passage together, as their families looked on, beaming, proud.


My daughter and her housemates hosted a graduation barbecue on Saturday, which went of well, thanks in part to the DJ, who had promised two nights before, when they were all at a bar, to spin for free, and who remembered nothing of his promise a day later, but agreed to be bound by it anyway, so of course, they paid him, and he was worth it. All day Friday the parents of the housemates ran errands around Ithaca, transporting tables and chairs, getting barbecue supplies, and some of the mothers (not me) cooked, and instead of cooking we supplied drinks and ice and coolers and desserts, and picked up an enormous cake with a long list of names of graduates in red icing, and somehow it all came together.



Then on Sunday night after the rain-soaked commencement, our family and our daughter's boyfriend's family went to dinner at Taverna Banfi, the fine dining Tuscan restaurant where my girl worked as student chef freshman year, and decided that she didn't, after all, want to do restaurant work, though she still loves food and beverage as a creative endeavor. There were thirteen of us at the table, and the food was excellent, and then the young folks went off on their own to check out some of the Collegetown bars one last time. They were rather deserted, I heard later, as most graduates were off somewhere with their families, or packing, or already gone.


Monday morning, the troops were joined by a couple of my daughter's friends, and we went for breakfast at Collegetown Bagels, which is an Ithaca institution. After, we went back to our girl's house and began packing in earnest. It was all very bittersweet, and then it was back to the city, back home, to begin the next chapter called "real life."



My house is now a mess of course. College paraphernalia is everywhere, but on the good side my son and daughter, along with a friend of my daughter's who just arrived home from college at Oberlin, are in the kitchen right this moment cooking quinoa, cajun shrimp and a kale and avocado salad for dinner, and then my daughter and her friend are heading out into the night to meet up with all their other friends who are newly home from college, and so here we are. Another ending. A new beginning.



I realize this is a lot of detail that probably only matters to me, so if you made it to this point, thanks for that act of friendship. I guess I'll just end the record here. Except to say, I am so very proud of our girl.


33 comments:

  1. And although I do not deserve to be at all, I, too, am so proud of her. What radiance and beauty! What a sense of accomplishment and of looking towards the future!
    You must be so exhausted, woman. I am proud of you too. Not just for raising those amazing children and getting them to this point of their lives, but for physically making it through that heat and all of those ceremonies and celebrations. I think I would have cried too, and not entirely from joy.
    Congratulations to all! You ALL did it!

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    1. Thank you, dear Mary. I am sure you understand intimately what this moment was like. And now for the uncharted terrain. I hope the next chapter works out as beautifully as it seems to be doing with your family. Much love.

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  2. I totally loved each photo which reflect lots of pride in accomplishment, the result of your daughter's hard work and talent, and the joyful faces of everyone. Like you said, college graduation is bittersweet as the world awaits.

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    1. Terra, indeed the world awaits. Yes, it is bittersweet, but surely there will be more charmed interludes in their lives, as there have been in ours. Thank you for being here, friend.

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  3. You put a bright, creative and well educated young woman into the world. Kudos to you, her dad, your family and your wonderful girl! And thank you for sharing...I not only made it to the end of this post, I enjoyed it!

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    1. e, she is an impressive young woman by my lights, so thank you for seeing that. Hopefully the world will greet her with open arms. xo

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  4. I loved it all, Angella. The graduations in my life and in the lives of my kids have been place markers for me - and, I hope, for them - and, as you said, bittersweet. And then one moves on. What a great family photo you have there! Congratulations to the new grad and her steadfast parents.

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    1. dear jenny, graduations are indeed place markers; of course there will be other graduations in our kids lives, though not always with a cap and gown to display the crossing over into a new stage so prominently. Thanks for the kind words, sweet friend.

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  5. I made it to the end, with tears in my eyes ! Wonderful, happy photos, especially the one of the family towards the end. If your girl should wish to visit UK, we have a spare bed, and are only 20 minutes from London on the train.

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    1. Frances, your tears are a kindness of heart, thank you! And I will let my girl know she has an invitation to visit! How generous and warm an offer that is. Bless you.

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    2. I believe that you can see my email address if you should wish to get in touch?

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  6. Sounds like a layer cake of happiness!

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    1. A layer cake it was indeed, with some layers preferred to others! Just life, in all its raiments. Thank you for being here, dear A.

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  7. What a wonderful record of joy and accomplishment, and I thank you for sharing it all with us! Your daughter is so beautiful and radiant -- I wish her much luck as she moves forward in her adult life! This post brought back memories of my own graduation over thirty years ago -- it seems like yesterday.

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    1. Elizabeth, sooner than you think, you will be at this juncture with Henry. I cannot even begin to tell you the blinding speed with which these college years flew by. Enjoy every moment, every move in, every move out. And thank you for your friendship here, always.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this wonderful, beautiful moment with us. She is such a treasure, as you all are.

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    1. NOLA, thank you for being here to share in this moment. I appreciate it, and you. xo

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  9. What a beautiful and resonant account of your daughter's graduation. I remember that freshman dinner like it was yesterday and now she has graduated! Exciting to think of where she may go from here. As painful as it is sometimes for us as Moms, we have encouraged these kids and made their happiness and success the top priority. This is the happy result. Also, I remember back in the islands old people say rainfall is a blessing. So you know.

    -invisigal

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    1. invisigal, such a wonderful reminder! you're right, rain is considered a blessing in the islands. thanks for bringing that front of mind. and this girl of mine, i do believe she is blessed. Let us hold that thought! xo

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  10. Yay! Many congratulations and I, for one, appreciated all the special details-can't believe that deluge! Glad everyone seems to have cherished the special transition :o)

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    1. HBF, thank you for being here, friend, and for sharing in the celebration! xo

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  11. Congratulations on this special day for your daughter!!! Your family is so beautiful!!!!

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  12. It matters to me not only because it matters to you but I have been following your girl for 4 years. I am proud of her!

    What does her stole signify?

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    1. Dear Birdie, it's a Kente cloth stole to signify pride in her African American heritage, and the Adrinka symbol on the front panels means knowledge or, as my daughter explained it, "continuous learning," which she says is one of her core values. I love that you asked! And didn't those 4 years fly by. xo

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    2. I love that. So beautiful.

      Birdie

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  13. What a shining moment for you all. Your daughter is indeed radiant. Congratulations all around and I am so glad you shared all of the events with us. x0 N2

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    1. Thank you, N2! Also, for being here.

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  14. Wow. Just wow. I feel like she is all of our baby, too. I am so, so happy for you. I savored every photo.

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    1. Kimberly, you've seen her through all the stages of high school, then college, and now this. I love that we have so much history, and that we'll make more. I'll be watching your boys graduate sooner than you think. The old cliche, which I can't seem to stop repeating: it goes in a flash. Love you, dear one. Thanks for being part of my posse, and I am part of yours.

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  15. Beautiful daughter :D Congratulation for graduation :D

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