Wednesday, May 27, 2009
On Saturday, May 23rd, my (not-so-little) little brother graduated from high school. The same high school from which I graduated 10 years ago. But being back there for his big day, I realized that almost nothing was the same. The short list of things that remained after 10 years was limited to the color/style of the caps and gowns, the school's superintendent, the founding pastor and his wife, and the covers for the diplomas. Everything else, everyone else was different.
Despite the differences, I still found myself reminiscing about my high school days. I remembered activities such as Spirit Days, pep rallies, basketball games (to which I always had a front row seat), prom (or more appropriately Jr./Sr. Banquet since we didn't dance), homecoming, chapel, and the Senior mission trip. I tried to recall who was on the student council, in the national honor society, on my cheer squad. And I found myself remembering how complicated and challenging high school seemed 10 years ago. Relationships, tests, papers, homework, extracurricular activities, peer pressure, breakups, it was all so overwhelming. But it's fascinating how as soon as you toss your cap in the air at graduation, things suddenly begin to change. You begin to change.
High school is its own world. And graduation is when everyone moves to new planets all at once. Suddenly those people who were with you every day, who you allowed to define your world, your person, are gone. Your new world is larger, full of new people. And it doesn't take long for you to see the bigger picture and wonder why you were so intimidated in high school. College work makes you laugh at yourself for thinking 3 page book reports in high school were hard. While working your first "real" 9-5 job, you find the confidence you never seemed to have in high school that would've allowed you to talk to people outside of your "social circle".
As I sat and watched Ethan and his peers walk across the stage one by one to receive their (fake) diplomas, I wished for a few moments that I could go back and relive high school with the knowledge and confidence I have now. I thought about the things I'd do differently and the things I would've kept exactly the same. Cheerleading, for instance. I wouldn't change a thing. I loved it. I learned more than just jumps and motions and dances and stunts. I learned discipline and dedication and camaraderie and sportsmanship. Things I still carry with me and will attempt to instill in my children.
The ceremony winded down and I watched as the graduates hugged each other and took pictures together. I remembered doing the same thing 10 years earlier. But then a feeling of sadness overcame me as I realized that I now no longer have a relationship with the people in those photographs that sit in a box in my basement. I said a prayer for the graduates on Saturday that they wouldn't find themselves in that place in 10 years.
As I write this, I can't believe that my brother is a high school graduate. Even more unbelievable is that it has been 10 years since I graduated. Ten years doesn't seem like that much time until you step back and realize how much has changed in that time. Then once you take all that into account, it seems like it could've been 20 years.
And in 10 more years, it will have been.