Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Graduation Day!

While looking for a book to read I found my yearbook. In an instant I was transported to that sunny day in June when graduation was going to take place. It must have been around noon when I was waiting outside the dean’s office.

It was no surprise that he wanted to see me. Finally it was my turn to go in. He said “I am doing all I can to see you graduate but to be honest with you I am not sure if that will be possible”.

I was hardly in school that senior year. I skipped so many classes, hated math class and I didn’t go at all. The only class that I loved and was always there was French. Although my teacher was a phony and an asshole, I loved French class and everything that had to do with France. I used to play with the idea that one day I would move to France and meet a handsome guy; we will marry and live happily ever after. French was the only subject in which I never had less than a B in all my tests and quizzes.

I came out of his office not knowing what to do. How will I be able to tell my mom that I’m not graduating? What am I going do if I can’t finish high school?
My friends were talking about the clothes they were going to wear underneath their gown and the way they’ll do their hair. But not me, I didn’t care about that. I was hoping for a miracle.

Everybody started going home but I didn’t want to go, home was the last place I wanted to be. I headed for my locker and I saw my 7th period teacher (an after school program were they help kids with their homework.) Mr. Dominguez asked if I was ready to walk the aisle in full cap and gown. If I was relived that all my hard work had paid off. I didn’t say anything, for one I didn’t want him to know about my problems and on the other hand I was the president of the Hispanic club (a 150 member club.)I was mortified if he found out what a bad example I was. Embarrassed to tell him that I was never in school because I partied a lot, I responded “yes I am ready” he said “what are you doing here, go home… you girls take so long ... You will need all the time you can get. He was smiling but I wasn’t. He then asked if everything was OK. I didn’t reply … I was asked to go to his classroom.

I explained what happened. He had no Idea that I was always skipping school. After a much deserved scolding, he asked If I had been to summer school and have done community service. I was always going to summer school. Not because I wanted to learn but because being at home was hell, it was better to be in school then to put up with the constant yelling and screaming at my mom’s house. In regards of the community service, I had tons of hours because being the president of a club meant that you have to volunteer so others can follow and then again, I rather do that then put up with my mom.

Mr. Dominguez called every place were I volunteered and asked them to send faxes stating that in deed I was there. He also called the dean and explained that every year I had been to summer school, took a 7th period class and had tons of community hours.
After much deliberation the dean said:” you are graduating, I want to see you at 4:30 today”. I was thrilled, I couldn’t believe it! I hugged Mr. Dominguez, thanked him for helping me out and rushed to get home.

When I arrived home, mom wasn’t there… While waiting for her, I started to get ready. It was 4pm and my mom finally arrived.

I said “mom are you coming to my graduation?”

For the longest time she kept asking when was I going to graduate? I didn’t give her a date because I wasn’t sure.

She said: “ok, tell me when you are going to graduate so I can ask for the day off”

I said: “I am goanna graduate in about 2 hour.


She was furious. I told her that if she didn’t want to go she could go to work, but for Hispanic parents (or most parents) missing your daughter/son graduation ceremony it is like missing their wedding day.

Standing in the stadium looking at the crowd, I could see my mom; she had this gigantic flower arrangement. It felt so good that she was there; I was hoping that she was proud of me. I changed my direction to the names on the floor, all in alphabetic order. So many empty spaces, many friends that didn’t make it to graduation day. Some of them in juvi (juvenile hall, jail for minors) others got pregnant, a handful had to drop out of high school to start working and help their families, a few got lost in the world of gangs, violence and drugs, and some simply didn’t have enough credits to finish high school. In a class of about 1000 students about 500 made it to that day. For many, high school is the beginning, for us was a long and enduring battle. We couldn’t believe that we were standing there, after much struggle we made it.

The stadium was filled with our hopes and dreams. Some wanted to be rappers or entertainers, others athletes, most of us if not all wanted to make our families proud, a few had dreams of going to college and many just wanted to get the hell out of that town and live life. We were ready to experience the world and eat it whole in one bite. We were naïve and immature, we were young.

After the ceremony some of my friends were throwing a party. We danced and drank, but mostly we talked. We started talking since 11pm until the next day around 9am. We were closer than ever, all of us were able to open up, talk about our wildest dreams and the way we were feeling about becoming adults. No one poked fun of anyone, we treated each other with respect as good brothers and sisters. We advised one another, we laughed, cried and laughed some more. We promised to be friends forever, to never forget about one another, to keep in touch and that no matter where we go, we will always remember where we came from.

I haven’t seen most of them since, and do not keep in touch with any of them, but I would never forget that night. There was no drama, and no judgment. That night, when all of us were there for each other, a true familia.

We felt like an army, some soldiers were not with us anymore, others were wounded but for the ones there, we were delighted to be together closer than ever. We couldn’t wait to start living.


.beee. said...

I remember my graduation was incredible too. One of the absolute happiest memories of my life =) I'm glad you shared this. It made me smile in remembering my OWN graduation♥

All my ♥

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget my graduation day either. I almost didn't graduate. I was a mess in those days. No goals, no future, no plans.

But, like yours, that night was magical. My friends were all headed off in different directions, some to college, some to jobs, some to the military. We all had different goals, but none of that mattered that day. We were friends, and we were happy for each other. And we all promised we would always be there for each other no matter what.

Years later, I found out who my real friends were - the ones who were there when I needed them more than anything. And the rest just faded away into the past, never to be seen again.

Faker said...

I am gutted because we don't have high school graduations here in England.
My uni graduation was definitely a special occasion though because despite the fact i wasn't graduating with close friends they made the effort to be with when I graduated.

Kristy said...

I can relate to how you felt that maybe you wouldnt get to graduate. I skipped most of my junior year and got pregnant! So I didnt even have a senior year or graduation.
But thank you for sharing this, it brought back missed memories!

Anonymous said...

I was thiking about my graduation not to long ago too. I find myself looking through my yearbook every now and then. Great memories! This year will be our 10 yr. reunion and I cant wait to see what everyone has been up to. It seems as if it had been yesterday.

Elizabeth Marie said...

Hey girl! I'm feeling a lot better thank you soooo much!

I love this post...brings me back to my HS graduation day. I don't talk to many from HS anymore, but the ones I do, I treasure. I'm coming up on my ten year reunion! CRAZY!

I hope you're having a fabulous day! XO

Shania said...

I am glad that all of you have fond memories of your graduation...except for faker lol (that sucks).Thank you all for your comments,they mean the world to me.

Thomas said...

I had totally forgotten about this song. Wow!