Notes On a High School Graduation
I attended my son’s graduation this past weekend in the Atlanta suburbs. Congrats, Charlie! Twelve occasionally anxious years of private and public schooling are making way for four more years of higher education.
I have blogged before about how much air travel sucks and, sure enough, having flown maybe 30 times to Atlanta over the past five years I had never experienced what occurred on this trip into Hartsfield. You know you’re in trouble when the wing tips noticeably because it means you are in the dreaded circling pattern waiting to be cleared for final approach.
Being the smart guys they are, the leaders of the airline industry thought it would be a good idea to make hubs out of Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, two of the most thunderstorm-prone cities on the planet Earth. Didn’t affect me because Atlanta was my final destination but I felt sorry for all the folks with connecting flights into the now closed Hartsfield airport due to some nasty storms in the area.
We didn’t have enough fuel either. The pilot matter-of-factly informed us we’d have to gas up in Greenville, South Carolina. New one on me. Turns out other flights in the same boat as us were diverted both there and to Alabama for refueling.
To make a long story shorter, we were the first plane in to the humble little South Carolina airport. We hung out on the tarmac for about 45 minutes, fueled up and left for Hartsfield which, gratefully, reopened. We finally landed three hours past arrival time, but thanks to a $91 cab ride directly from Hartsfield to Roswell High School, I made it to the graduation with literally 3 minutes to spare.
It takes a long, long time to read the names, congratulate and hand diplomas to 500 graduating seniors. Today’s High School students are considerably tamer than those from my generation. If I’m not mistaken, the Herndon High School class of ’74 was the last Fairfax County school for awhile to graduate from Wolf Trap. That would be thanks to one smoke bomb and one streaker. Roswell High’s version of mischief was a beach ball that was let loose upon the sitting and giddy graduates. It was quickly confiscated.
My binoculars and Charlie’s grand-dad’s cell phone camera captured the big moment as my son’s name was called to a nice round of cheering and applause. He had found his place in the mini-universe that is High School. From a nervous Freshman to a confident Senior, he had achieved this right of passage with flying colors.
The Parties and Barbecues
The weekend was spent shuffling from one barbecue gathering to another, congratulating Charlie’s friends, many of whom I had known as 8 and 9 year-olds and now on the verge of life itself with, for most, only a brief 4-year college interlude before assuming true independence.
The final barbecue was at Sean’s house. Charlie and Sean used to be the best of friends and played on the same soccer teams for years. As happens in High School, they had pretty much gone their separate ways but Charlie put in a gracious cameo appearance before heading off for a musical performance at a friend’s church.
Sean is headed for the University of Georgia and loves politics and economics. Smart kid. I swear the conversations I had with him at the barbecue were the most intelligent of any I had with most of the adults over the weekend. As I left the gathering, the poignancy of the moment hit home as I wished Sean luck and told him it had been fun watching him grow up.
Middle Tennessee State- Here We Come
As for Charlie, he’s known for a couple of years now precisely and exactly what he wants to do with life. He’ll be moving on to the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee to pursue his degree in audio engineering and music production. He doesn’t care about money. He cares about the business and art of music. Period. His heart is so in the right place, I know he will do very well. All I ask is for a small little bungalow on his estate twenty years from now where I can close out my existence typing out my final blog entries about how great it was to have such a kind, smart and successful son.