This past weekend, Susan and I went to a Graduation Party for a fellow Doctorate of Education colleague of hers. It was a fancy party, black tie, everyone was dressed up so nice, in sequins and fitted tuxedoes. There was even a live band. We were one of the first ones to arrive- Susan is anything if not prompt.
There was trepidation in the air for us both as we walked from the parking garage to the one, then another elevator in this large venue. We both noticed that some people were wearing masks, as so many have been over the past year, while others looked as if the pandemic had never happened.
As we approached the banquet hall, several thoughts struck me all at once:Susan seemed nervous…
Nervous about her dress… she looked breathtaking!!
Nervous about seeing her cohort, her peers that were all Doctors now… I am so in awe of her!!
Nervous about “Is COVID over now??”… it seemed like a step in that direction.
Nervous about how the evening would go… it turned out to be the exactly what we both needed.
I started to wonder if I would embarrass her… She is a doctor now, she is beautiful, and she is a hell of a better dancer than me. Not to mention, my mind wandered to the fact that I had to buy a new shirt for this event, because I’ve gained weight in this past year and none of my old dress shirts fit me right. I wondered if I was the only person who didn’t rent a tux… I didn’t want to spend the money on a tux for an evening of celebrating someone I only knew through my successful wife. I felt incredibly inadequate.
I was here to support Susan… she had doubted coming and seeing her friends and colleagues all day. All the nervous things I listed above, plus probably 50 more things that I couldn’t even guess. I had asked her earlier: “Will you regret going?” her reply: “No”… “Will you regret not going?”… “Probably.” So here we are, and I have to remind her that she belongs here. That she is radiant and that even thought we are here celebrating her peer, this would also be a celebration of her accomplishment too… they did after all graduate together, and she did it with such style and grace.
I thought, “is this a trial run for her graduation party in a couple of months?” Different kind of party… Susan’s party is scheduled to be casual, with a lot of dancing, and family all surrounding her, honoring her accomplishment with laughter and joy. This party seems formal, and serious, even though we haven’t gotten inside yet, I fear that this will be a some kind of formal lecture, describing in great detail for family that already knows the honoree how he overcame his obstacles, and how he has reached his final destination.
Well, all of those worries and distractions melted away. First, we were greeted with couples photos, and a live band… I didn’t stutter… a live band!!! We haven’t seen a live band in over a year… Our excitement grew. Then she started to see the names of her pals… so many of her doctorate pals were going to be in attendance tonight. Then we saw the photo booth, and this suddenly felt like a wedding or something fancy but fun.
Every five minutes or so, Susan would see a dress she liked, or a pal she hadn’t seen since graduation which was virtual. She actually hadn’t seen some of these future pillars of education in person in over a year. I could tell she really missed them. I could also tell that she was as proud of all of them as I was of her.
As the night went on, there were speeches, but not the kind of speeches I had dreaded, but speeches that were not about the honoree’s accomplishments but more hopeful about his future. This was barely a night to celebrate what the man had done, it was more of a celebration of anticipation of all the things he would now do with his influence and passion. It was just so hopeful…
and I paused and remembered that this is how I feel about Susan every day. So she has a doctorate… but she is nowhere near being done. She is just getting started. She will change the face of education, one child, one teacher, one family, one school, one district at a time if she has to. She and her cohort are a formidable group, a group of educators who are not willing to settle for the status quo, and are keenly aware of how change comes to be reality.
This was a revelation… coupled with the revelation that everyone was in fact vaccinated and had taken their masks off… The singer of the band got people dancing, and it was the most refreshing thing we’d heard in so long. Good Music, Wonderful People, and a Brave Old World to live in. While these titans of virtue planned a Brave New World for our Kids.