A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
All of a sudden everything’s happening. Thursday I went to Providence with Darren and Brian, and saw my old friend Tiffany. We had a good day, I think, although the guys seemed a little weirded out by our idea of fun (walk down a street and look in eclectic shops? Sit, drink coffee, and talk together? What?!). That day my parents also flew in, but arrived too late for us to drive an hour to Natick, spend time with them, and drive an hour back.
Friday Mom, Dad, and a bunch of my friends – Darren, Brian, and Nora, plus Ian of course – came and helped us paint the apartment. The bedroom has one yellow wall, the kitchen has a lovely brick red wall, and the bathroom has a pale, refreshing blue wall (the better to leave you feeling rested as you leave). We ate a picnic lunch in the loft and after Mom and Dad returned to Natick, the five of us sat around upstairs and dozed, or just quietly thought about things. It was the most relaxing half an hour I’ve spent in probably six months, and I wished I could capture the moment forever.
That evening we (along with Nora, Andy, and Michelle) ate the contents of Kurt and Brian’s freezer, which included two varieties of chicken nuggets, stir fry, and corn. They agreed to humor me and go to Coldstone Creamery, but then as I rode over there, my stomach started cramping. By the time I had walked across the parking lot, it had evolved into a pain on the left of my abdomen so intense I couldn’t stand up straight; I wanted to lay down on the rainy sidewalk and weep. Instead I leaned against the wall and suffered until somebody drove me home, and the whole time I felt so frustrated because I wanted to eat ice cream and spend the evening with my friends, rather than suffering in bed.
Saturday I woke up at 4:00 this morning (only one in a series of outrageously early wake-ups; even going to bed at 1:00, I still wake up at 6:30. I’m running on fumes of exhaustion, and every night hit the pillow hoping that I won’t wake up before 8:00. Which never happens) and spent the next three hours laying in bed, thinking. Then I got up, feeling awful from no sleep, and prepared for graduation.
We graduated. It involved an hour of standing around in our robes under a cloudy blue blustry sky, then processing in to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance blaring from the speakers in the bell tower. I enjoyed looking at the professors’ ornate robes, particularly those who received degrees out of the United States. Then we stood, then we sat, and then we listened for a long time. The commencement speaker, whose name shall remain unmentioned, spouted moderately meaningful but highly cliched quotes at us (I know that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world, and indeed it is the only thing that has. Gah!), but actually the talking-at-us stage went fairly quickly. The name-reading, diploma-getting stage took much longer. Oh, and the closing prayer was addressed to the Great Mystery. I’ve never prayed to the Great Mystery before…
As an F, I was in the 8th row to receive my diploma. I saw several of my friends come before me and tried to cheer them through my laryngitis voice. Ian received his Master of Science early on, and although he didn’t see me, I grinned and felt extremely proud. Then my row stood, shambled forward, and a fellow told me GO! and I stepped up (announced as With High Distinction, Kathleen M. Ferguson), shook President Berkey’s hand, received my diploma, and walked off the stage with a brief triumphant raise of my hands. The rest of the ceremony involved lots and lots of names and faces I didn’t know or recognize, people who filled up the 20 rows behind me. I determined that a page of 45 names took 4 minutes to go through, passing diplomas to each graduate. We processed out, two and half hours after entering, in a line rather more raggedy than we came in with. By the time we reached the Fountain the entire thing deteriorated, and I scooted off to meet with my family. We spent almost two hours at a reception congratulating and receiving congratulations; I saw some but not all of my friends. Hopefully the ones I missed won’t vanish forever out of my life. I also met several of my friends’ families, which is always quite interesting.
Tired but diploma-carrying, we returned with my family to Natick after a brief apartment stop to change clothes for dinner with Uncle Bob, Aunt Pam, Shirley, and my cousin Emma, and of course Mom, Dad, and Colleen. To cap the day off, Dad bought us $1,000.89 worth of backpacking gear at REI: a tent, two sleeping bags, a cookstove, water purification system, and a bunch of small stuff we needed to get started. Man, it was amazing, and I felt like I had just fleeced my parents, but he seemed alright (if a little shocked) with the whole thing. In fact, I’m a little shocked that they did that for us, but I appreciate it all the same. This means we only have a few things to pick up to be totally set for a seriously awesome backpacking trip.
It’s been a long, long day. In fact, a series of long days — days that I didn’t want to end, but at the same time, started too early. I wish I could keep living these experiences forever, but I know they would become cold and meaningless with repetition. Anyway, I feel like life has suddenly stepped up the pace; our limbo weeks have zoomed by and now real life begins. Commitments. Bills. Homeworkless weekends. Sleep. Life with a Bachelor’s degree seems pretty much like life with a Bachelor’s, only now I have one more thing to gather dust or lose in a pile of Important Memorabilia.