Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roadtrip Retrospective

Since we got married three years ago, I have paid particularly close attention to what families with young children go through on beach vacations. It seemed to require so much stuff. And it has always required stuff for me anyway, because I like to have a variety of sunscreens, towels, blankets, books, beverages, lunch and snacks at the ready-- I don't like to go back inside. Over the last three summers I have motioned to those families and groaned, "One day that's going to be us." I've watched their minivans and SUVs pass our sedan on 95, OBX stickers on the windows, bikes on the back, car top carriers on top, smudged fingerprints on the windows.

Now said sedan has a white leopard print car seat on the backseat and dismembered "fishies" and crumbs strewn everywhere. When my friend Mindy visited last week, she got Mirabella out of her seat and tactfully said, "Wow, it must be hard to keep a car clean when you've got a toddler." I laughed. Because here we are, having accepted that our trunk cannot accommodate suitcases and a Pack and Play, and a stroller, and food for breakfasts and lunches for the duration, and everything else we need, renting an SUV to take our little family of three, plus my sister, on vacation. I have bought shovels, pails, sandcastle molds, sunscreen, a beach umbrella, a sunhat, a tiny tankini and flip flops. We are borrowing a cooler and boogie boards and scrounging up folding chairs. We're going to the beach! When I used to watch those families trudge, loaded down, through the sand, I was not envious. But did you hear me? We're going to the beach! Who cares what we have to bring? This morning we were running late, as usual, but The Boy folded laundry on our bed, "to make it easier for you when you get home," he said. We have piles arranged throughout the house, and lists galore. He stooped to kiss the baby goodbye, and our usually nonchalant little girl didn't want to let go.

"Guess what?" He told her, "After today, we're going to the beach!"

"Beach!" She said, though she doesn't know what it is.

"We're going to get to spend all kinds of time together!" I got a little choked up. I might have grumbled about not being able to take a week off or about having to bring my laptop with me, or about going to Virginia Beach instead of somewhere warmer or more exotic. But we're going to the beach. And I couldn't be happier.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pomp and Circumstances

Nearly seven years ago, I sat in an auditorium surrounded, mostly, by strangers. Because I graduated in the summer, a year early, I did not graduate with my friends. We came from all over. The girl beside me had been in college, living there, for 8 years. There were some traditional students, like me, but there were also graduate students and adult students. My whole family had come-- my parents, both sets of grandparents, all of my siblings, and even my boyfriend's family--everyone was there. But to me, it didn't seem like that big of a deal.

When a representative from the program for adult learners spoke, I tried to understand the emotion, but I couldn't. The speakers kept prompting graduates to give their families a round of applause because they were responsible for getting the graduates through. I saw extended families clutching these graduates after the ceremony, bawling. Everyone wanted pictures taken. And I just didn't get it.

But then I married a man who, despite early claims to the contrary, had not finished his Bachelor's degree. He had started college right out of high school while working full time, took a job that moved him to Baltimore and to me, and took classes sporadically. I encouraged him to keep at it, and he did when he could, but with homeownership, marriage, demanding jobs and then parenthood, often it got pushed aside. When he looked to change industries, we began to realize that potential employers probably weren't even getting to his (professionally written, ahem) resume because he didn't have a degree. He vowed to get on it and I vowed to make it possible for him.

He worked through one class every five weeks with only a couple breaks, enabling him to graduate on his birthday last month. I threw a huge party-- parents and siblings and uncles came from up and down the east cost, and we had to borrow space for the extravaganza. But first, I sat with his mother and stepmother and father at the ceremony. I thought about why I felt more nervous and excited for his graduation than I did for my own.

"I never really doubted that I would graduate from college," I told his mom, "It's just what came next." But I watched him face significant fear that he would never finish. And maybe that's why those people at my graduation were so emotional. Because they really believed they might never get there.

So I sat just about as high up as I could at the Meyerhoff and though I'm grateful for my now better-than 20/20 vision, I still couldn't really see. But I listened to the speeches and I got it when the representative from the class thanked his wife for enabling him to be there and spoke of his kids as his inspiration. "How can I speak of the importance of education if I never finished college?" he said. And I understood.

I cried a little when the keynote speaker spoke. I felt energy in the room. The Boy would later say that the students were all friendly to each other. No one was "too cool" to be there. In the lobby I saw a woman in a cap, gown and stilettos with three young children around her feet. I saw grandparents walking across the stage. I saw hope. There was no other place I would have rather been.

We threw the party, despite obstacles of remote location and threatening clouds, and I lit the candles on The Boy's favorite banana dessert as my family clamored for him to give a speech. He deferred, "This was really all Christina. A typical night for us over the past year and a half would be her coming home and cooking dinner and taking care of the baby and cleaning the kitchen and keeping the house running so I could have time to do homework. She edited papers late into the night. I couldn't have done this without her."

But really I couldn't have been prouder, even if he really did have all those degrees he said he had when we met.
C'est-à-dire - Free Blogger Templates, Free Wordpress Themes - by Templates para novo blogger HD TV Watch Shows Online. Unblock through myspace proxy unblock, Songs by Christian Guitar Chords