Graduation means different things to different people. Did I just blow your mind? Probably not. You probably knew that, because you’re a smart person. (I assume that stupid people don’t read—this, or anything else.)
Typical graduations come in three flavors, depending on how you felt about school. Either it’s a relief knowing that you don’t have to go back there anymore, or it’s an overwhelming achievement that will make everyone who knows you proud, or it’s a stepping stone to something else.
For Kyle, graduation was miserable all around. It was miserable even though he knew he’d be going to college, he knew he’d be studying music and going on to bigger and better things, but think of everything he left behind. Not just the Elk, he’d always kinda known in his heart of hearts that the Elk (Strings, Chords, whatever) was a shitty band, a garage band with nothing really going for it. But those guys… he kind of loved them. And by the time graduation had come around, he’d manage to completely alienate them.
“The band doesn’t suck!” Tommy kept trying to tell him.
“Tommy,” Kyle would reply, and then he’d just look at him, as though pleading with his eyes for Tommy to accept the truth that should have been obvious.
And Mickey. Mickey knew that it sucked. Mickey knew that he sucked. He’d accepted it. Kyle couldn’t help but feel guilty about that, too.
At prom, my sister had finally managed to convince him to have sex with her. It was one of those awkward moments where you get what you want and then real quickly you realize it has nothing to do with what you actually wanted. It wasn’t so much disappointing as… I don’t know, closure? They didn’t speak. They didn’t have to. At least, they thought they wouldn’t. But once they’d committed to silence, they both realized they weren’t on the same page. Their reasons for fucking each other were different and neither was doing it for the right ones. She was doing it to fulfill some, I don’t know, teenage dream? He was using her to rebound.
That was the other thing that sucked about graduation.
Now Declan’s graduation is kind of bittersweet. I guess that’s pretty much par for the course. It’s great to be getting out there, out into the world, he’s taking Raven with him to UNC-Trinity. He has one relatively (for a high school garage band) successful band under his belt by now, he’s confident he could have another if he decides that’s what he wants, if college rock bands are even a thing—
“They must be, right?”
“I wouldn’t know,” his girlfriend shrugs at him, “I don’t know from college.”
He will be leaving Jasper, of course, and Jasper’s graduation barely even registers on his radar. “Sweet,” he figures, “Got that high school diploma out of the way, that mean I can get a real job?” And the answer is yes, of course. Gotta have a real job if you’re gonna be raising a kid.
For Raven, it is an unqualified relief. Not so much graduation, I guess, that’s kind of just the cherry on top. By the time she actually walks across the stage, Raven has already turned 18. She’s flipped her old life the bird, showed it her cooch for the last time and now she’s shaking that ass extra hard so it knows she’s not coming back. Not that she’s moving that far. They’re spending their first year at college in the dorms, separate rooms obviously, because only gay couples get to live together on campus in college, but they’re on the same floor and they manage to break their way into the arrangement-cascade where everyone’s roommate has a significant other—or another bed to sleep on when they break up. That’s another story, though.
That’s as far as we’ve gotten. As far as you’ve gotten, anyway.
I, of course, have gotten further.
My graduation will be tense. I can’t say how yet, I can’t tell why. I can just feel it looming right now, looming with almost some kind of trepidation. Is that vague enough for you? There are some things that I know, some things I can sort of make out and derive. I know that Lucy will be happy. Not that that’s a real surprise, but fine, I’ll take it. I know that Isabella Millar will be a wreck.
And I feel some sense of urgency surrounding Trevor. Like I want to talk to him, need to talk him. But he won’t look me in the eye. He hates me. Sometime in the three years between the end of my freshman year and our graduation, Trevor will come to hate me. Does it have something to do with him being gay? Why does it always have to be that? Did I steal his boyfriend or something? Wow. Original. I don’t know. But there’s something else.
There’s something else and I’m not sure about it. I can’t quite get there, you know?
There’s something else, if I could only…