My family has just left, and the house is quiet again. I am, of course, sad to see them go, but were they to stay forever things would be very crowded around here. Besides, one of the silver linings of childlessness is the time that Michael and I have alone together, and I definitely miss that when we have weekends as busy as this one has been.
The weather is beautiful, in the low seventies and sunny. The birds are twittering out of control. It was like this on Friday, for my college’s baccalaureate Mass and commencement. The choir sang a Palestrina missa brevis, and there were eight priests concelebrating with the bishop’s delegate (a monsignor somebody-or-other) – not a bad ratio considering there were only thirty-seven of us graduating. At the commencement ceremony each graduand knelt in front of the president, who pronounced the Latin words admitting us to our degrees while the dean of students put our hoods on us. When we stood up, we had turned from graduands to graduates.
I’ve been to commencement at the large university from which my husband graduated, and while I am by no means an unrelenting traditionalist, I have to admit that I thought our ceremony, with all its dignity, much superior to his. At his, half the people galloping across the stage after receiving their diplomas (fake, as the real ones were mailed later) had “HI MOM” written on their caps with masking tape, and the names being read could barely be heard above the chatter of the people in the audience, who were simply bored at having to listen to eight hundred names. (This was the commencement for the engineering college within the university. The commencement for the university at large was held in the stadium, and we spent the entire time trying to figure which of the faces within the sea was Michael’s. We never got it right.) (I know that it is simply impossible for a large school to have the kind of ceremony my school had; I guess I’m just saying that I’m glad I go to a small – all right, tiny – school that values tradition.)
I started out at that big university, you know. My little Catholic college is only about twenty minutes away from it, and I didn’t even know about it when I graduated from high school in 2000. But my little sister started there in the fall of 2002, and the first time I drove over to see her, I cried in the car on the way home, heartbroken that I’d missed out on the chance she was having. I’d started my junior year at university, and I ruled out transferring on the basis that it was impractical. I spent that fall in misery, unsatisfied with the education I was getting but seeing no alternative. Then one Sunday after Mass, I realized that I was being ridiculous and informed Michael that I intended to transfer, whether it made sense or not. He said fine. (I think it’s possible he knew all along what I should do, but wanted to leave the decision up to me.)
In the end, the decision to transfer to my tiny liberal arts college made more sense than most other decisions I’ve made in my life. I made some friends whom I still expect to have years from now. I spent five semesters there, and I am enormously enriched and intellectually fortified by the education I received. Hooray for learning to think thoroughly and systematically, for learning to examine evidence and seek truth in the way which humans were made to do. I can’t imagine being happier with any other sort of education.
Still, I can’t say I’m sorry to be done. I’d just gotten to the point where papers seemed like burdens, where with every exam I was counting how many I had left. It’s time for me to be a college graduate, to start learning on my own timeline, reading books because I want to read them and not because my professors assigned them, and writing about topics of my choosing instead of ten pages on the history of the nuptial blessing (just did that a couple weeks ago).
I’m glad to be graduated. For all those of you who asked, and those who wondered but didn’t ask, I’ve got no job right now. I’m planning to do temp work this summer, in between all the trips we’re taking. In the fall – who knows?
Michael’s going to DC on business this week, and I’m going down Monday through Wednesday (any DC residents who want to get together for lunch or coffee on Tuesday – email me!) and then going to Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday to see my uncle get his doctorate. I’ll be able to blog from DC, but not from Kentucky, so expect sparseness over the next week. I promise that the interview questions are still coming eventually!