Tuesday, June 07, 2011


It's now been thirty years since I graduated from high school, a rite of passage I now barely remember. The only thing I remember positively is that I'd wanted to skip the ceremony. I'd already gone through freshman orientation at Penn State, moved into my dorm room, been to all of my classes once, and so did not relish the quick back-and-forth trip that was necessary to achieve graduation attendance. Granny came, so of course I did. And I would've, anyway; Mom would have come to get me, ready or not. Skipping out was not an option. I shared PSU's main campus and the same dilemma with approximately nine hundred other freshman, so it must have been a rather strange weekend on campus, with everyone scurrying back home again.

That's why I was too distracted to remember graduation. If it weren't for the few pictures that were taken, I might not be sure that I was there. I hardly remember going to the prom, but I know that happened, too. Yet, if I hadn't gone to the prom or graduation, I would be regretting it now, sure that I'd missed something very exciting. (Jealousy is all the fun you think they had, as Erica Jong wrote in Fear of Flying.) I did miss my class trip because I overslept, but looking back, that might have been a Freudian nap, because I don't feel any pangs about missing an amusement park trip, none whatsoever.

Getting back to what happened thirty years ago, though, what did they say to us at graduation? Surely, we were given advice or some sort. Who spoke? I haven't a clue, and I probably didn't know the next morning, either.

Thirty years. If I didn't know that, if I just woke up one morning with all my vague memories, but had no concept of what year it was, how old would I take myself to be? Ah, middle age is so cruel. See, I get up in the morning feeling either fine or pretty good. As far as I know, there are no worrisome health issues plaguing my body. Yet. But at some point, I will stroll into the bathroom and see myself in the mirror and then any delusions are over. Reality will return, this isn't a dream, it really is no longer 1985 and that really is my face, my body, my hair. Sometimes, I catch sight of my eyes in the rear view mirror as I'm driving and think, those are my eyes? Really? Shit. I keep forgetting. I don't feel like 47 going on 48, especially not mentally. Surely, no one believes that I ever became a real adult, because let me tell you, I did not. I still see myself as immature and insecure, and I'm certainly distractible and scatterbrained. (And my voice never ever sounds like waawawaa, like Charlie Brown's teachers.)

What have I done with the last thirty years? Oh, this and that.

I still have this daydream of being a lighthouse keeper in some beautiful place.

I told you: I'm not a grownup.


Lisa said...

Oh, that damn mirror! I've been dying my hair for years and this time when the roots grew out I discovered a patch, not just a hair or two, but a patch of grey hairs. How did that happen?! I still think of myself as much too young for any grey hair!

actonbell said...

Hi, Lisa, thanks for dropping by:)

I really don't know just how much gray really lurks beneath my dye job. It's going to be a shock someday.

Doug said...

Lucky for you that the blue doesn't fade, huh?

I'm not sure whether I went to my High School graduation, but if I didn't, it's probably because I had some point to make. I don't remember my point, either.

Logophile said...

Oh yah, I feel ya, and
because I was my entire graduating class I can say this too;
I spoke at my graduation and I have no idea what I said.

Forty may be the new thirty but my synapses keep forgetting it.

Quack Birder said...

I can relate to this post... I remember graduation reasonably well, but I feel like I've never grown up. Though my gray hair and general bodily entropy say otherwise.

actonbell said...

Ah, Doug, that's nice of you, but it probably has. And yes, it's impossible to remember those adolescent agendas. I suppose that's really the only way of dating ourselves.

Logo, were you homeschooled? That's interesting.

Quacky, you really should remember more than the rest of us, since you were valedictorian and had to speak in front of an auditorium's worth of people. See, I thought people like you felt like grownups. It's universal, then:)

Bone said...

My twenty year reunion is Saturday. I remember prom more than graduation. Missed my senior trip, as well, but for different reasons altogether.

Although unlike you, I'm clearly very grownup ;-)

Really like your lighthouse keeper dream. And kind of disappointed that I haven't thought to dream that myself.

tsduff said...

36 years for moui, but hey, I'm just swooning over your picture. Simply beautiful!!!

actonbell said...

Thank you, Terri:)