I’m nearing the end of another one of those crazy periods in life, full of stress and errands and little sleep. Which, with the dust storm and the new job and some unexpected medical issues of Oliver’s, is probably understandable. (Oh, how quickly I forgot those fleeting days of retirement.) And last weekend was the culmination, the prime reason I had cleaned for weeks and shopped and chewed all my fingernails off. I graduated from business school.
My family descended on my barely-cleaned home to witness my walking across a stage in a cap and gown one more time and to celebrate such an accomplishment. It was three and a half long, yet still quick, years in the making, and during the weekend I reflected often on the friends I’d made, the classes and people who made me want to pull my hair out, the lessons I’d learned, those stressful times where I’d barely known my own name, my South Africa trip, and ultimately all the fun I’d had. It’s the end of an era, which is always bittersweet.
The best news is that, while it was unnaturally hot in early May, it was my first graduation ceremony ever that wasn’t affected by rain. At my high school graduation, the downpour on the coliseum’s tin roof completely drowned out all the speakers. And the douse of big, fat rain over the outdoor stadium before college graduation just made everyone mad and uncomfortable. So, it was a miracle that we had a clear, if a bit steamy, day this time. And all the scheduling went smoothly — everyone arrived on time and was able to secure decent seating, I didn’t trip over my robe or otherwise embarrass myself and dinner was a big hit.
It was in conversations with my family during the weekend that a central theme of my life began to emerge. Now, I am apt, in my particularly rash reactions, to declare that I will do certain things in life, “over my dead body.” And, I realized, in the way that God laughs, the very proposition seems to come true.
My mom kicked it off, by announcing as we headed to the graduation ceremony that she never thought she’d witness me finish a graduate program. That’s because, when I finished college 12 years ago, my 22-year-old, burned-out self promised I would go back to school again “over my dead body.”
Then there was that time in my late 20s, while still reveling in the glow of my borrowed New Yorker-ness, that I told my dad I’d move home to Charlotte “over my dead body.”
Well, we see how both of those turned out.
The next day the prophecy reared its head again.
My aunt and I were discussing how nearly all of my cousins, my entire familial generation, do live or will live in Charleston, S.C., in the next few months. (There’s some weird, magnetic migration underway.)
Then I said it.
“Over my dead body will I ever live in Charleston.”
I mean, Charleston is a beautiful, historical place. I have familial roots there. Friends, and now tons of family, reside there. I’ve visited a handful of times and decently know my way around. It’s a great food town. It’s much closer to my family at Hilton Head Island.
But, it’s just not my cup of tea.
Too hot and humid. Too preppy. Too many real estate agents and soccer moms in SUVs. Too traditionally “southern.”
But, wait. I suppose I could say all of those things about Charlotte too.
So … I guess I should order my “change of address” postcards now.