June 9, 2000
Graduation Day


Twenty-four years ago tonight, I stood in the middle of a stage  --  in front of my parents and my grandparents and my boyfriend and my teachers and 365 classmates and several hundred assorted onlookers and well-wishers and total strangers  --  and tremblingly accepted my high school diploma.

I wasn't trembling because of stage fright, or uncertainty about the future, or deeply-felt emotion about closing books and long last looks, my friend ...

... and I wasn't trembling in relief that I was even managing to GRADUATE in the first place (see: amazing 1.3 GPA!!) ...

... but because I was wearing a pair of stoopid, ugly, ludicrously-trendy, ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable four-inch white platform heels.

I looked and felt like I had a small Frigidaire strapped to each foot.

As I stood there shaking hands with the principal, I was already dreading the descent back down those narrow steps at the front of the stage. I was positive that I was going to trip and wind up taking a nosedive (thereby inventing the concept of 'diving into the mosh pit,' about a year ahead of schedule), in front of my parents and my grandparents and and my boyfriend and my teachers and all 365 of my fellow classmates and several hundred onlookers and well-wishers and total strangers.

And that, as far as I was concerned, would pretty much be the cherry on the ice cream sundae of my high school *career.*

What can I tell you? It was 1976. The shoes  --  along with a lot of other stuff that makes me cringe in retrospect  --  seemed like a good idea at the time.

sadly ... no *photographic evidence* exists of the stoopid, ugly,
ludicrously-trendy, ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable
four-inch white platform heels.
but here's the boyfriend and me... from the waist up.

Oddly, graduation is one of very few landmark events of my life that doesn't feel like it happened "just yesterday."

Learning to ride a bike? Feels like it happened just yesterday. My first wedding? Just yesterday. Birthing the Tots? Just yesterday. Falling in love with David and moving to California? Just yesterday. The best damn chicken salad sandwich I've ever had in my entire life? Just yesterday. 

(Actually, that one WAS just yesterday.)

But high school in general  --  and graduation night specifically  --  feel like they took place in another lifetime altogether. I look at this photo of eighteen-year-old Secra  ...  in her *urine yellow* graduation gown, her face all bright and shiny, standing next to her cute boyfriend ... and I have no memory of what she was thinking that night.

I can take a guess, though.

  • She's probably worried about her hair, for one thing. It's a typically overcast, drizzly June evening in Seattle, and from the looks of things the Adorn *Super-Typhoon-Strength* Extra-Hold has already given out. She's probably worried that the top of her hair is too "flat," and that the bottom of her hair is too "straight," and that her hair in general is too long, and too greasy, and too reddish, and too-this and too-that and too-the-other-thing ... and if she could only figure out some way to get it to look more like Jodel Darchuck's hair  --  blonde, smooth, glossy, with those perfectly-flipped Farrah "wings" on the side  --  her life would be whole lots better than it is.

  • She's probably worried, too, about her parents. This is the first time that eighteen-year-old Secra can ever remember seeing her mother and her father together in the same room at the same time. And even though the Highline Community College Auditorium is a pretty big place, she's concerned that it's not big ENOUGH. How are divorced parents supposed to behave around each other, anyway? Especially at a momentous occasion like their daughter's high school graduation?

    Should there be an emergency aid crew standing nearby, just in case?

    Eighteen-year-old Secra doesn't have a clue.

    secra's mom [screeching]: 'yes there is! yes there is!
    *i* have a photo of the stoopid, ugly,
    ludicrously-trendy, ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable
    four-inch white platform heels! anybody want to see it??'

  • She's got her nice new boyfriend standing next to her ... but she's probably scanning the crowd, wondering if The Ex-Boyfriend From Hell is lurking somewhere in the back of the auditorium. She hopes that he is. She hopes that he's here, and that he's alone, and that he can see how great she looks tonight, and how happy she is with her fabulous new boyfriend, and how she's getting on with her life without him ... and she hopes that he's eating his two-timing, promise-breaking, lying lowlife scum-sucking dick-for-brains dysfunctional piece of shit heart out.

    (And -- of course -- she hopes that he calls her again someday.)

  • She is undoubtedly wondering where the best after-graduation parties are going to be ... and how much longer it will be until she's holding a nice big Dixie cup [or ten] full of warm beer, right out of the keg.

    Judging from the *rosy glow* on her face, I suspect that she's already dipped into Dad's hidden bottle of Jack Daniels. Or else she and The Nice Boyfriend have talked his grandmother into buying them a half-case of beer, and they've had a little pre-graduation parking lot *party* of their own.

    (The "party" won't end until 22 years later, when she stands in the kitchen of her dinky apartment in Oregon City and weepily empties that last bottle of Mountain Chablis down the sink. But that's another story for another day.)

  • And I'm absolutely certain that she's counting the minutes until she can climb into her boyfriend's Camaro, pop the Dreamboat Annie tape into the eight-track, toss the *urine-yellow* graduation gown into the backseat (and the diploma out the WINDOW) ...

    ... and kick off the stoopid, ugly, ludicrously-trendy, ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable shoes.

Isn't it amazing? The more some things change ... the more other things don't change at all.

throw a rock