Here I am, in 1996, minutes after graduating from Michigan State University. I’d been trying to find my family – this was before everyone had a cell phone to track each other down, we had to actually search – and when I spotted them, I came running and struck a pose: Ta da! I did it! That’s my soon-to-be husband, there, laughing at my goofball joy.
I look like something out of High School Musical: Senior Year.
I remember that moment so clearly. I’d finished my schooling at last, lined up a very good internship and I felt confident I’d get some kind of real job after that. Also, because I’d been lucky enough to meet my One True Love early in life, I was getting married in exactly seven days.
In my mind, I went from a college kid in a baggy plaid shirt and Chuck Taylor sneakers to a professional woman and a wife in the turn of a tassel. I’d done it, become a true adult at last, achieved everything I wanted to and of course that trend would continue, right?
That naive kid waving her mortar board in this picture thought she had it all figured out. She was excited , optimistic and ready to storm the world with her B.A. in journalism. (Ha! Lot of good that does me, now.)
As an older, wiser, more cynical woman (still wearing Chuck Taylors, though) I have to confess I miss that triumphant optimism. With the economy circling the drain and the related worries of home ownership and child rearing, I wish I could capture that gleeful “ta da” feeling again. I suppose it’s gone forever, along with my curly perm and my beloved hot pink tie-dyed oversize t-shirt.
The next chance I have to feel anything close to this is my book launch, particularly the reading at my hometown bookstore, Schuler Books. It’s a graduation of sorts, isn’t it? An achievement after years of hard work and effort?
p.s. Just for fun, this is a picture of my dad, graduating from Michigan State exactly 30 years before I did, in 1966. He’s posing like a hood ornament on his ’59 Mercury. You can barely tell from looking at it this size, but down by his foot, the actual hood ornament is one of those fuzzy haired troll dolls.