Looking Forward, Looking Back


The thing about my sister’s commencement is that it not only marks the end of an era of thirteen years of undergraduate education for my siblings and myself, it also represents the first time my siblings and I have all been together for more than a year and a half. You might think this would make for an uncomfortable period of readjustment to each other but you would be wrong. We seem to snap right back into our old roles as if nothing had happened. The day began at four AM when we were awoken by loud voices outside our door of someone who mistook our room for theirs and were no doubt just shocked to see the door open to reveal a bleary six foot redheaded man squinting at them like Moleman and asking if they needed help. I heard the ruckus but didn’t know what it was all about. In my half-sleep state my mind decided that the only reasonable explanation was that they were covert agents of a secret government agency sent to gather information on us. I remained convinced of this until the record was set straight over breakfast. After breakfast we ran errands to prepare for the weekend. This involved stopping at a Goodwill where I was drawn to the section of books in search of a good token gift to give my sister to provide knowledge and wisdom for her journey into the real world. I settled on a old favorite: “I Can Do It Myself” from the Sesame Street reading series. My older siblings and myself all remembered having that book as kids and somehow it seemed so inappropriate that it was coming around to appropriate from the back side. After Goodwill we had a few hours to killed before we could meet with our future graduate so we went to the Indiana Museum of Art and wandered around the gardens for a while. When all the siblings get together our appreciation of art tends more towards absurdism than profundity. This manifested itself as a series of forced perspective photographs involving ourselves, installation sculpture and a pair of pocket sized plush bears named “Blue Bear” and “Green Bear” (guess what shape and color they are). Sculpture garden shenanigans thus completed we then joined the Girl Of The Hour at her home near the university campus for lunch before going to the Baccalaureate ceremony. It was a Baccalaureate ceremony like none we had ever attended before. A Baccalaureate is a ceremony designed to inspire and bless the graduating undergraduates- so it does have its roots in religious ceremony. This Baccalaureate was a much higher proof of religion than I have been accustomed to: and this is having attended graduations at Methodist affiliated universities and an Episcopal college that began life as a seminary. This university made great concerted effort to include ALL the major religions and not just Christianity but the emphasis was on scripture not philosophy and prayer not music. We are all passably musical people although some of us are good enough to play and perform in clown bands and jazz ensembles while others of us have been cheerfully relegated to the bass, so we have become accustomed to a certain level of musical technique in the events we attend. The music at this event reset the curve. The opening number was a praiseful spiritual number that had been left in the sun until it warped and then all the notes shaken loose and poured into a leaky bucket. The closing number involved a repetitive refrain that was sung mostly in key but sung into such a badly balanced microphone that it will forever keep me out of sin lest I be forced to listen to it on the elevator ride to hell. Once the baccalaureate was finished we retired to my sister’s house again for cheese and fruit and a rousing game of ImagineIff which involves figuring out what kind of dog, car, motto, catchphrase and so best suits a player. If I was a dog I would evidently be an Afghan Hound. If my Dad were a source of energy he would be a wind farm. Take that as you will. Much hilarity ensued. The day wrapped up with Chinese food and the presenting of gifts which then led to story time with Dad as he read us “I Can Do It Myself” in true Dad-fashion including commentary, voices, and his signature sign off of: “and that’s the end of the pickle!” And that’s the end of the pickle.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 10, 2013.

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