What Do You Say At Graduation?

It’s different from graduating from high school, but there’s a common thread of not feeling like anything’s different, at least at first. Written at the end of the week of commencements.

What do you say at graduation?
Besides the usual congratulations
When everyone’s gotten their commendations
But what you’re grateful for are the stories.

“What was your biggest take-away from UC Berkeley?”
Hellos; goodbyes
Beginnings and ends
Some two or three hundred new Facebook friends.
Thirty-two-some classes
Projects, performances, professors
Or what I wrote on my card:
“There is no magic; we create the magic.”

But what do you say at graduation?
It’s been a week of enumeration
And remunerations
But when it comes to the actual words…

“Wow”
“Remember when…” “Good job”
“Goodbye”
“Good luck”

“I’ll miss you.”

Handshakes become hugs
Images captured on (digital) film
And on everybody’s lips are “keep in touch”
Though beyond occasional Internet contact
It probably won’t happen much.

“So what are your plans?”
The number one most asked and most hated question by graduates.
Would you believe I don’t know?
It just feels like summer.
It hasn’t yet hit that there’s no fall.
No TeleBEARS panic in July
No more paved road—but open sky.
(It’s only been a week; give me time.)

What do you say at graduation?
We made it—but we have so much more to make and to do.
I guess that’s why they call it “commencement”.


Edit: And a bonus missing stanza, from the scrap paper I started on, then lost, then found.

What are you doing after this?
Tonight? No, in life.
Where are you going to miss
me?

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