Today was the last day of classes. It means that I have a paper for Advanced Organic due on the day of the final, and that's on Friday. It means Lab 7 for Meth Chem is due that same day, and I have four other finals. It means I have to write the official report for this semester's research by Monday. It means that everyone I have come to love this year is leaving, and I won't see some of them ever again. It means I'm going to my dad's house after graduation to work my butt off so I can afford an apartment in August. It means looking for an apartment, and finding a way to get my stuff there. I means changes, big ones. I should be worried, or excited, or something. Everything for me, right now, is more or less blank.
I almost don't want to graduate. Not because I don't want to leave all the people here. Not because I'm going to miss Le Moyne so much. I don't want the stress associated with the ceremony. That's it. I haven't formally invited anyone, because I technically don't want anyone to go. Arranging my parents in different positions at the ceremony itself was a hassle. I had to dictate sides, times. I had to tell them not to come looking for me after it was over, that I would come to them, because I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent them from seeing each other. I had to tell Anthony he couldn't come, because I was worried my dad would search him out and murder him, probably as they called my name to receive my diploma. Okay, that's exaggerated slightly. But my dad did say that if he knew Anthony came, he would find him and kill him. "I'm not afraid to go to jail," he says. There was frustration, talking to my mom and telling her that I didn't want Anthony to come, as much as I didn't care either way before. It seems unfair. He invited me to his graduation, when he got his Master's degree. I'm still not his best friend, he still bugs me, but courtesy should be reciprocated. Besides, he's not intolerable, just annoying. But still, I'm being affected by this several-years-old animosity, and the way people are acting is making ME feel like the villain. Maybe I'm just over reacting. I know at least three people who would tell me that.
Anthony and I have settled on a way to celebrate, though. He's going to throw me a graduation barbecue. He seems excited about it, which is a relief.
So how do I really feel about graduation? Indifferent. I want to get it over with, because I'm tired of the excitement everyone has for it. "You excited?" "How does it feel?" "Last finals for you, woo!" But I'll still have finals. It feels normal. I'm just going to another place where, for another year or so, the same process will be repeated before I'm lost to the world, living in a lab for several years.
Samantha and Julie are so excited for me (mostly Samantha). She and I have developed a friendship that I really didn't expect. She brought a cookie to Advanced Organic for my birthday, and playfully threatened to get the whole class singing, including Mullins. My relationship with her has been a pleasant surprise. I'm definitely going to miss her.
That said, I'm not completely jaded on the subject of graduate school. In so many ways, I'm excited. I'll be living on my own, making my own decisions. I'm not even worried about making dumb mistakes, like travelling a half hour to a grocery store to find out there's one closer, or taking the wrong bus to town or something. I'm kind of excited to make those mistakes. It'll be funny to look back and say to myself "remember when I took that bus that went all the way through downtown, when I could have taken one straight there?" I'm excited to have ridiculous stories to tell the people who will still be at Le Moyne, or to my parents. I'm excited to do all my own grocery shopping, and never (hopefully!) have a dull meal again. I can't wait to have house guests, and take them to places I have learned are fun or cool. Living on my own is going to be exciting, interesting, and full of exploration. I plan to walk around a lot, to get a new bicycle. So many new things will be open to me.
I realize this is an idyllic view, and it could actually be way more boring than what I hope, but then again, these are hopes. And I'm sure I really will make dumb mistakes.
On an unrelated note, the weather here has really picked up. It's so nice to have some warm temperatures, and slightly less rain than we've been getting for the past month or so. I would still prefer to be pretty much on fire, but when you live in Syracuse for four years, you learn to take anything above 45 as summer weather.
Today, I got a card from an old family friend, Donna, congratulating me on my graduation. She included twenty dollars in the card. I opened it on my way to work today, and I remember smiling to myself. I know that she got the information from my mother, and I haven't even seen her in something like eight years or so, but still, she felt it appropriate to wish me luck, and it's really touching. I know a lot of family members who will probably never even know that I've graduated, let alone gone to college.
It's almost surreal, too. I'm the first person in my family to (successfully) attend college, and I'm even going to graduate school. There are people in my family who find it remarkable. "Finally someone in this family is doing something important, moving up in the world." Everyone who cares is so proud of me. I am, too. Kathy, my grandmother, told me once when I was seven that I was a "little slut" and I would grow up to be nothing, just like my mother, and just another disgrace to the family. She said that I would never even graduate high school. After my elder half-brother dropped out, having repeated the ninth grade several times (well, more accurately, John Gulisane called us and said "Please stop sending him to school, it's not worth it."), the sentiment was strengthened. "You'll end up just like him," she said one day. But my mother is a successful supervisor of a mental health care facility, and here I am. I'm going to change the world somehow. Maybe I won't synthesize a life-saving drug, but maybe I'll teach and inspire the kid who does. It's exciting to think about. How can I not be proud of what I've accomplished, and will accomplish some day?
I do have really good news, two things, in fact. My grandfather is coming up to see me graduate. He's always made it a point to come up and see important events for my brother and I. His Parkinson's is getting a lot worse, from what I hear, and his smoking and diabetes can't be much of a help. I have to face the fact that he won't be around much longer, so I'm happy to see him whenever he comes up. Last time I saw him, last summer, he could barely light a cigarette because his good hand shook so much. The nerve damage from losing his thumb makes it worse, I think. He can't drink from cups anymore without an extra long straw, or sign his name or, well, so many other things. But still, he jokes and laughs and enjoys life. He's one of the bravest people I know.
The other good news: I've adopted another baby rat. Bielle cannot live by herself during the summer, when I'm spending so much time working to save up money, so I've found her a roommate. She's currently five weeks old, and she's sort of honey-coloured. She's very sweet, and cuddled me when I met her. Because of the size of Bielle's current cage, though, I can't bring her home until the day of graduation. But she's so cute, and I can't wait to officially add her to the family.