The Day After Graduation Day

It happened: Thom graduated from high school. That’s not the shocker. This is: When you hear people say things like, “Gee, it seems like just last week that we were taking him to the first day of pre-school,” believe them. It’s true. I saw our neighbor Asa today — he lived next door when we moved in in April 1988, and he’s still there. He and one of his roommates once baby-sat for Tom (then without the H). Their big adventure while Kate and I were out for the evening was changing his diaper. I know it happened a long time ago. But not that long ago, and now that kid is getting ready to pack up his stuff and move on. It’s what’s supposed to happen among us middle-class Americans and what does happen when all your hopes and work and planning and luck fit together right. Two boys out the door to next adventures. I can’t believe how quickly it all happened.

That’s all for now, I guess, except to say that for the most part I liked the event. It was crowded and wild. The Greek Theatre has an official capacity of 8,500, and the place looked like it was packed. It was as close to a true community celebration as Berkeley has — all the kids in public school go to Berkeley High (if they haven’t managed to get themselves sent to the “alternative” campus a few blocks away), and it seemed like all the families with seniors showed up. The crowd was raucous. The kids were often unruly. Most of the student speakers — and there were many — were sadly forgettable. In an exercise of hyper-democracy or gesture of anti-elitism, the program didn’t explain how any of the kids earned the distinction of a speech or say whether they were chosen by lottery. Still, I loved seeing so many of the kids I’ve known or heard about over the years going through the graduation line; and it was a great moment when the ceremony ended and the 680-some kids in the class just moshed together for about 15 or 20 minutes. It was one group of very happy-looking kids.

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