Graduation day is very slow, waffles, your boyfriend does not want to wake up and cannot find his dress socks, your parents manage to get parking in the Vine lot because they arrive early, there are a lot of pictures, you are flustered. Everyone seems cranky and you bristle and he shakes their hands. More pictures. They go off together in an odd, unnerving trio. Your procession group, C through E or something, is very hung over. A bro keeps slurring and yelling his number in the lineup, 169! and you suspect he is not a student you have shared a campus with for the last four years but is actually a sitcom character thrown in to add flavor at the last minute. The graduation episode has to maintain the audience’s interest, of course. The sun is strong. Finally there is a procession that takes forever, down Foss Hill the long way and through the massive tent, and then there are people taking pictures right in your face and you go through the rows and you search and you search and Mom yells Ell! and you look over and you see her but mostly you see your boyfriend. You see him and he is smiling.
There are a lot of speeches about glass ceilings and questioning Wesleyan and a woman’s right to a safe education and affirmative action, PR, PR, PR. It takes forever, you are dying in the heat, you take off your robe and eventually the cap too to let the sun attack your skin directly and you will pay for this later. There is a this is why water bottle under your chair and thank god because you think you might die (this is why not: heat stroke). You wish you were sitting with your friends like Leada and Pickles got to, Fuller and Fung. You wish you’d brought your cellphone after all, at least live-tweeting this would keep you alert. Finally they start calling names but there are 156 people ahead of you. And then it is your row, and a real photographer takes your picture, and you are walking up the marble steps and maybe it’s then that the world does that odd wub wub sensation thing, time speeding up like a film reel off kilter. Dean Melendez is shaking your hand and you are holding a leather diploma case and then Ella Dawson and you are in front of President Roth and he is smiling at you full of white teeth and eyes. The crowd is a blur, you cannot see anyone or anything. Shake Roth’s hand, turn around. Bob is waving to you, your heart is in your throat, you grin and wave back, did you just graduate yes you did. You graduated college. It took four years, it took hours, it took five seconds. And then there is the rest of the alphabet.