It couldn't be 25 years, could it?
Overture, hit the lights, this is it, the night of nights. That was the tune playing in my head 25 years ago this week.
I was about to graduate from J.M.Tate High School, down there in Cantonment.
And what I want to know is how in the blue blazes is it that 25 years have gone by?
It was 1978. There had just been a Triple Crown Winner. I think Gerald Ford was president.
Heck, I was 17-years-old and had the world by the tail, what did I care who the president was?
I can recall perfectly what I wore, that I had to go out and buy a dress. There is nothing unusual about having a new dress for graduation, but for me to own a dress was a novelty. I was not a girl that wore dresses, much less dress shoes. So I had a blue eyelet skirt and blouse. I had ordered shoes, but they did not show up, and what I wore on my feet escapes me.
Maybe I went barefoot, it would not be out of character.
So I was duly graduated with 640 of my peers. I do recall that I was in the 90 percent that made the top 10 percent possible.
I also know I did not drink that night.
And I was already enrolled in college, set to take off to the University of Florida in the fall and pursue a degree in agriculture education.
I did not know what I did not know.
I had no idea that there was such a thing as agriculture communications, much less that there was a way to earn a living writing about farming.
But somehow – after 20 years – I managed to back into a journalism degree and eventually wound up right here in my own back yard.
And what have I learned in that time? Not a whole lot more than I knew then, except I like to think that now I know I don't know anything.
Well, I know how fast time gets by. I only graduated yesterday and I still belong to be 17, seems like. Except now I have a daughter that's 17.
I know that college professors and most bosses don't care why you did not learn the lessons for this test or why you did not do your job. They will fail or fire you, and it is not their fault, but your own.
I know that if you mess up, the best course is to own up to it, apologize, catch another gear and get on with it.
Most people are their own worst critics. I am harder on myself and those I love than on a perfect stranger, even though I try to treat everyone with compassion. I often fail.
I know babies grow too fast not to hold them while they sleep, at least sometimes. And the very thing that is the most irritating, like washing hair, will become the thing you miss most when they are big enough to do it for themselves, which happens all too soon.
It is a waste of time to beat yourself up for the actions of others.
Say, for example, one member of your family belches at the table. After pointing out a time or two that it is the height of rudeness, just let it go. You can't change them. It's kind of like trying to teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of time and it annoys the pig. But it will remain the fault of the pig that he can't carry a tune.
Trust yourself. You know more than you think you know. Cut yourself a break.
I know that it is all going to work out just the way that it is supposed to, and no matter what I like to think. I know that I am a work in progress. I have had and will continue to have triumphs and failures, just as we all will.
And I know that there are people who love me even in my loneliest hours and whether I triumph. In fact, they probably love me all the more for the feet of clay that walked across that stage a quarter of a century ago in shoes I cannot remember.