Preface 01: The Garden

I have just under twenty three days left until I depart for my internship. Twenty three days into which my family has packed as many doctors appointments, get-togethers, work hours, weekend outings and schedule-able emergencies as humanly possible. Surprisingly, I seem to be the least nervous about my situation within our household. I’ve been biding my time with podcast episodes, planting flowers and trimming the grass in the formal gardens of my old high school in preparation for their graduation ceremony – which took place today.

It was strange to watch as it took place, if I’m being perfectly honest. I’ve only ever experienced it via participating, when I walked down that same neatly trimmed grass walkway three years ago in ill fitting wedge sandals and a white romper to receive my diploma. And for the first time since that ceremony three years ago, I watched another class graduate – albeit from a safe distance with the rest of the grounds and maintenance crew (we put a lot of hard work into making that ceremony possible, we certainly weren’t going to miss it).

As I suspected, many things were the same; The orange rose corsages and boutonnieres, the student orchestra making their best attempt at pomp and circumstance as names were called out, and the shrill sound of bagpipes to announce the arrival of the senior class in the gardens. I watched as every student waited the allotted time to begin their procession so as not to walk faster than the one in front of them, and then I watched as they took their seats and tried to stay still for the hour and a half ceremony that was just about to begin. Then, my father stepped up to the podium to begin his commencement speech, and I stopped watching in favor of listening.

The commencement speech is a source of unparalleled stress for my father. Every year, around this same time, he grinds away at his laptop through the evening, often times coming to dinner later than usual or with a little more prompting from my brother and I. Afterwards, we offer to listen to him read it to quell his worries of making some mistake he’s certain will happen when he addresses the graduating class. There never are any, it’s a wonderful speech, and we tell him this every year.

(I often feel like he doesn’t really believe that).

Yet when I heard him give his speech this afternoon – despite knowing and remembering almost every word he read to us from it last night – I was struck with an odd sense of finality. Not in a negative way, but in the way that you feel when you finally close the cover of a book, or put the lid back onto a box full of freshly separated puzzle pieces. Despite my love for my job, my crazy family, and my wonderful dog, I’d finally accepted that I would be entirely cut off from them for six weeks. And that was okay. Was it scary to think about? Of course it was. But for the first time since I got home, I truly felt like I was starting to get ready for the next phase.

I have just under twenty three days left until I depart for my internship. In that time I still have questions that need answering and anxieties that need soothing. But I am ready, and I’m excited to see how this will change me.

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