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  • Writer's pictureSharon Uy

#16. Commencement

I wear my rings in phases like the moon, and yesterday, I put on the one my grandfather gave me for my college graduation. It's gold with a little pink ruby in the shape of an oval flanked by two tiny diamonds. He'd signed the card, "Love, Grandma and Grandpa." My grandmother had died almost two years prior, and I remember it taking a lot of effort to not start sobbing about all the ways, like this signing of the card, that he kept her always with him, and with us.

Other than that memory, nothing really sticks out from that day, aside from being very hungover and also very proud of myself. Not for finishing college, but for telling my equally hungover friends that the ceremony was at 10am, so that they'd show up right on time, at 12pm. It worked. And just like that, my parents became the proud owners of not just one, but now two shiny college graduates.

Commencement is an interesting word, because it signifies both an ending and a beginning. In relation to graduation, it's an "ending" colloquially, but a "beginning" etymologically. The ending of the despairing dregs of adolescence and the boundless beginning of "adulthood." I suppose, then, that every moment is a commencement. An ending of that moment and the beginning of this one. A perpetual meeting place between past and future. And when I start speaking to myself in those terms, I somehow feel validated in my indifference to the idea of goals. That is to say, I don't have many. I'm not a goals kinda gal. Other than to live a life of inner freedom and maybe come into an obscene amount of money.

One goal I do have, though, is to one day be asked to speak at a commencement. If this necessitates my becoming famous for my achievements, never mind, perhaps. But in the realm of lullabies and dreams, I'm asked to speak and I'm able to hold thousands of people's attention and make them cry and laugh and quote me for centuries to come, the direct opposite of how my art therapy groups go every week.

Maya Angelou said that people don't remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel. Miss Angelou, respectfully, I don't remember what either speaker at both my graduations said, nor do I remember how they made me feel or who they even were. Although I kind of remember the speaker at LMU being maybe drunk and kind of aggressive.

I would, however, definitely remember what Randall Park and Abby Wambach said and how their words made me feel, if I'd have had the blessed privilege to have graduated from both UCLA and LMU 17 and 7 years later to see these addresses in person.

I lovingly implore you with my hands in prayer to watch their commencement speeches, and as you do, may you cry and laugh and feel inspired as I did.

As always, thank you for reading--

<3 brookie

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