Saturday was my graduation.
I thought maybe after a few days I would know what to say about it, but I find that it’s still hard to find the words. It was a long day. The ceremony itself was 4 hours long and then we had the party. But honestly, everything was perfect.
It was so inspiring to see everyone graduating. At Fairhaven, because the school is small, every student gets to choose a faculty member to present them. You get a little speech about everything you did, sending you off into the world with love and appreciation. I have gone to school with some truly incredible human beings, some of whom I was privileged to know and some I only knew by sight. But for the past two years I have been surrounded by deeply passionate and intelligent people, fighting actively for what they believe in. The world will be better off because of every one of them.
My professor did a linked speech of sorts with all of his graduates, comparing us all to different parts of a forest. For me he said I was the red cedar tree, strong and wise. He said many things, they were all kind and loving. It felt as much like a blessing as anything I have ever received in a church. He spoke to me and about me, knowing who I was and what I care about. He sent me into the world with all the belief I know he has in me, and I felt deeply loved and surrounded by a community that I believe in that believes in me as well.
The party was amazing. I believe 25 people came in total. I know there were a few who couldn’t make it but would have come if they could have. There were so many people I loved and who loved me. I got presents and money and cards, my BFF was amazing and ran around forcing everyone into pictures so I even have pictures of the night like I was hoping.
Also amazing, was my friend who went straight up to my parents to confront them on not coming to my graduation. I knew she was going to and somehow knowing that someone else was taking care of that allowed me to not have to think about it. I largely ignored my parents for the night. Occasionally I had to respond minimally but it was never more than a couple of sentences before I went running off to someone I actually wanted to talk to. They gave me an empty card with a signature that they were still praying for me. I laughed. I felt like a break had happened. I had considered, I had given them their chance and, in the end, they were everything that I always thought they were. All the toxicity, all the nonsense, it was all still there. And I just don’t have to deal with it anymore. Why should I? I am surrounded by people I love, who are supportive and amazing. There is nothing more in life I need (except probably a job on a practical level, but you know).
When my friend asked them why they weren’t at the ceremony, she said my mother’s response was proud, smug even. “That’s cause we weren’t there!”She said that’s when she knew that I was right, that my mother had done this to spite me. She wasn’t remorseful, she was proud of her decision.
I was glad to hear that, honestly. I had told a number of people that they weren’t coming to my graduation, and also that they were coming to the party. Many people seemed skeptical it was for the reasons I thought. Why try to spite me and come to the party? Why come at all? I kept having to go back to that I didn’t really know, I couldn’t explain it, but I knew on a very specific level that this made emotional sense to my mother. You can’t make sense of crazy. But I knew the emotion behind it was spite. So many people questioned me that I began to question myself, so it was validating to hear I was right.
This was an ending note in a lot of ways. The end of my time at Fairhaven, a place I have loved and been loved. But also what feels to me to be a firm cap on things with my parents. For so long things were up in the air. I knew I would invite them to graduations, I used to agonize over what would happen if I got married and how I would proceed. It felt like they were gone and yet things could change. Maybe not them but I could change.
And you know what? I did change. I got stronger, I put down more roots. I collected more and more people who were wonderful and supportive and kind. I studied and learned and grew. I learned about myself and my community. And what I found, when all this was said and done, was that I didn’t want or need them. So if I ever get married, I know it will be a wonderful day… and I know who won’t be there. When I someday graduate from grad school, I know who my guest list will not include.
I am incredibly fortunate, loved and able to love. I am surrounded by everything I ever wanted growing up and I’m so excited about what is coming. That is more than enough.