The following is a recollection of history in the making, or history that was made. It isn’t a recollection of history to be made, because even I haven’t seen that far into the future.
The scene: CSULB’s Central Quadrangle. The star: A.T. Guy, candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Rhetorical Studies and Political Science. The enabler: CSU Board of Trustees. The crime: graduation. Yes, this is how most crimes begin. Give a person a degree and watch power get abused, especially starting this fall. But for now, the graduation experience as presented by me.
Graduation hit me like a sack of bricks, considering the whole week I had spent with other people committing shenanigans left and right. As a matter of fact, my sleep deprivation grew to be pretty severe during the process. I was granted a week’s extension to move out, yet I may have only spent a night there. The funniest thing that happened was that I acquired a cold, or at least I believe I did. I wanted to sleep, but I was convinced that partying would solve my problems. Seeing as I was weak, the three drinks I had knocked me out cold. During this process, I missed out on an opportunity for guaranteed entertainment. Lesson learned? Do not get sick during a party, because if you do, I promise you…it will be funny.
Graduation itself was funny, because I woke up extremely tired, but I had to shower and get dressed casually. I donned my WrestleMania shirt which I had been saving for this very occasion, and it did not disappoint. After debating, I also strapped on a belt underneath my robe. I sleepwalked to the gathering area, where I greeted teachers, classmates, and kids who couldn’t write lucid essays. It was an eerie sight, as the communication department is perhaps the largest on campus. If not the largest, it comes damn close, because during the proceedings themselves, we outnumbered everyone combined. It was fun connecting and seeing my days pass before me; my mortarboard summed up my journey in a math equation. Something along the lines of 170 units, six years worth of work, three years of involvement in salsa, one restraining order, three dorm rooms, two majors…and I’m still not done. That candid snapshot of me encapsulated all of my thoughts perfectly. I’ve created a lot of noise, and it’s not over quite yet.
I made a few unflattering-but-hilarious remarks while sitting through the ceremony due to Jordan being textually available. Hell, after having confetti thrown at me, why wouldn’t I be jovial and blunt? Everything I said was a witty one-liner. The top-ranked graduate majored in Spanish Translation while hailing from Mexico. No offense, but if…certain things should not be heralded. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was a forceful nod to the recent Arizona immigration law, but I digress. The fact is, they had a ready made controversial feel-good story in me, and they passed. Their loss. The most exciting thing I saw was the Master’s students getting hooded by the faculty. I await the day I receive my hood.
Hitting the stage was where the main event took place. When I arose from my seat, my sash and honor cord fell off. As I knelt to pick them up, I dropped my name card, holding up the whole line. Then, I hugged Dr. Downey who was standing at the end of the row directing traffic, and I was pretty elated that I could do that. She firmly reminded me that my mother was to see her afterwards, and I obliged. My professors did not say good luck or have a nice future; they said “see you in three months.” Wow, way to boost my spirits. I frantically searched for another card, and received one after what seemed like a lifetime. I scribbled my name and email address, passed it to the Michael Buffer impersonator, and heard the most beautiful words echo throughout the university:
ANTHONY TERRELL GUY!
I crossed the stage, shook hands with the provost and president, and even the ASI president left his seat to congratulate me. Clout comes in all shapes and sizes, but of course, the Shaman of Sexy is the gatekeeper to the in-crowd. I took a few pictures, returned to my seats, and then all the communication majors…continued to walk the stage. Holy frick. My day was done, my goals ordained, and my undergraduate career officially declared closed. A flawed success, but a remarkable success. I thought back to the time I had my first official kiss; I bought a girl condoms for her boyfriend (ultra-sensitive), and she pecked me on the lips. Fell backwards. Damn senior year of high school. Graduation was like that: unintentionally awkward, but everyone gets a laugh and a story. Took pictures with my family, introduced them to the salsa community, and well, relaxed long enough to say I’m done.
Well, not really. I went dancing later that night, destroyed the floor, had any girl I want, and that was it. For once, I didn’t think about the absurdity of things I screwed up. I thought it wouldn’t be as fun walking off the stage to a girl that wasn’t there. Instead, it was fun seeing my family beam with adoration, seeing Jordan being Jordan, my niece…and others. Seeing Marco later on that night made things come full circle. Satisfied, yet indifferent, I am now safely home in Hawthorne where I will rest until the time comes for me to shine on again. In the fall, I won’t have a problem starting over, because I did my job with aplomb this year. For now, work and lesson planning will run the day, as I figure out what it means to be calm and well-rested. My immediate plans are empty, with the exception of the final fulfillment of the Tragic Triumvirate. Brandon was last Saturday, I was yesterday; Jordan’s in two weeks. Then, of course, we’re golden. Eight questions to leave with:
• Are you graduating with broader views of what you might do in life compared to the ideas you had when you arrived? (Yes: considered the Peace Corps, law school, and East Coast schooling.)
• To what degree have you learned how to lead by subordinating your own ambition to the common good, rather than vice versa? (Salsa Club/Team Treasurer; didn’t lead, but lead through presence.)
• Have you mastered a mode of inquiry, or developed anything that could constitute a permanent and fertile source of intellectual interest? (The study of rhetoric qualifies.)
• How much more did you contribute to classes and organizations and jobs than you took from them? (I pushed myself to be the voice to stimulate others despite my wishes. I made things livable.)
• Have you as yet loved anyone or anything beyond reason? (Victoria, Pippa, movies based on comic books, being an unabashed leftist…)
• Have you learned how and why to risk a serious, public failure? (Without hesitation, for love, honor, and the good of my allies.)
• How well can you sustain a determined, focused and disciplined attempt to solve an important problem? (One year of salsa taught me my worth in spades.)
• How much more inclined and more able are you to recognize and appreciate real genius, whatever its mode of expression? (Everytime I see a freeway or a dance floor, I’m constantly in reverie.)
• What have you become willing to do without getting paid, graded or recognized? (Too much. Gambling has more or less become my calling card.)
• How much room have you been able to leave for the inconvenient exercise of compassion, kindness and generosity? (My steely veneer has been pierced; I will do what must be done at any given moment.)
Those are my answers; I can only pray I guessed correctly. Next stop, the Seventeeth Grade. Skibbedebebop. Much later.
Current Track – Train “Hey, Soul Sister”