Chapter Forty-Six—Hurry Up and Wait…
There were nineteen days left to our wedding day, and things seemed to be ready to go. I finally had my vows written—still needed to print them on cue cards. My dress was packed and ready to go, Palucid’s outfit was packed and ready to go. My mom found an outfit to wear, and Palucid’s mom was just days away from finding something to wear. My bouquets were ready for pick up, and Palucid’s ring was enroute and set to arrive in a day or so. Our rehearsal party, salon, menu items, and honeymoon reservations were all set. The To Do/Obsess Over list was getting shorter by the minute.
For me, Grad had come and gone, and all I had to do was ready my classroom for the summer maintenance and repairs. This was not a favourite job for many on staff—but one that marked the nature of which time could crawl. Personally, I had one week from my last day of work to pull together all the last minute things that were likely to pop up in that inconvenient way things tend to pop up at inopportune times. Having time crawl while at my “day job” was infuriating. I had places to be and other things I could be doing.
For example, I had another grad to go to. My youngest niece was graduating, and from the same school both her sister and I had graduated from. True, being relegated an “ancient” status by my nieces, I shamelessly admitted that my graduation happened sometime in the last century (rumour has it they played O Canada on an eight track back in the days I went there!). Because of both nostalgia, and my love for my nieces, there were two events I was keen to go to, and one of them happened to fall on my second-to-last day of work. My boss knew about it and was fine with my leaving early that day.
It was not a lengthy event, but it was meaningful to me. As far as I know it is something unique to that particular school. It is called “The Garden Party”, and it is simply a chance for friends and family to see, and photo-op their beloved grads in their formal attire. They line up the shiny formally dressed grads in twos, and march them out the front doors of the school and around the block. The march, of course, is a symbolic gesture celebrating their emancipation from the mighty institution poised to issue a diploma of matriculation.
The street that leads straight away from the school was renamed “Graduate Path” during my time there. I am pretty sure that the neighbours felt very touched to have their street renamed. It likely was a warm and fuzzy feeling that faded rapidly by the day for those fussy about their lawns. You see, it is province wide law that no cigarettes, alcohol, or other controlled substance be consumed/used on school property. Teachers wishing to have a quick smoke, for example, would have not only do so in their cars, but the cars have to be moving and off of school property.
For students who smoked this proved awkward. If they wanted to smoke, they would have to find a place close to the school, but not on the school. In many cases, the ideal location would be in plain sight, right on Graduate Path. Gaggles of students would gather, sucking on paper sausages jam-packed with (hopefully just) tobacco. Once finished the filter tips of the cigarettes would meet the unglamorous fate of being tossed to the ground where they would accumulate and look quite ugly as far as landscape features go.
As far as my nieces and I are concerned, this was barely an issue. None of us ever picked up the habit of smoking—and to this day, we can be accused of having the lungs of a deer. On the day of their formal, it would likely also prove moot. Many students were too worried about ruining dresses or even rental suits to indulge in smoking. Additionally, their parents were near by—armed with cameras.
I tried to talk Palucid into taking a quick break from his work to witness this. She was the last among my nieces and nephews to graduate from high school, and this meant it would be Palucid’s only chance to witness such an occasion. He could only promise me that he would try—he would not guarantee anything. I resigned myself to the adage “beggars can’t be choosers”. In this situation pushing Palucid would be akin to begging. I guess I would just have to wait and see….Yippeee, more waiting—my bladder totally wanted to pee its pants.
The day itself turned out to be a scorcher. This in no way inspired the tired administration to be efficient in their handling of things—quite the opposite in fact. Back “in the day” when I graduated from that school, there were around 500 grads. We were lined up two by two, and marched out of the school. There was a photographer present and willing to sell us a snap shot taken of us “marching” in our formal wear. No one really announced our names. I suspect there were those at the time, who may have considered it back luck to “announce” the grads prior to their convocation—who knows?
This time around I watched as family and friends mulled about in the scorching prairie heat while the administration took its glacial time organizing the grads into their alphabetical order so that they could be marched out, slowly, one at a time—all two hundred of them…one…at…a…time. My parents were there basking in the shade of an oak tree, and I think my brother sat in his running—air conditioned—suv until it was time to photograph his baby on her grad formal.
We managed to get all kinds of photos of my niece and her boyfriend; my niece and my parents, my niece and me—it was lovely. By the time we were done, they were just finishing the W’s and anyone with the last name starting with zed were receiving first aid for heat stroke.