Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Au Revoir (or Adieu?) to Normal

Greg is now a college graduate, and in mid-December we spent what may well be our last weekend in Bloomington-Normal!

We headed down there early Friday afternoon--after several years of starting just a bit too late and getting stuck in afternoon traffic filled with motorists who, like us, were impatient to break the steely bonds of Chicago for the weekend, we finally made in on the road before the great exodus. Smooth sailing, all the way!

Friday night we took Greg out to Kobe, one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook your meal flamboyantly right at your table. The food was tasty and the show was amusing. A good time was had by all.

Saturday was commencement day, and a bit past noon we headed over to Redbird Arena and took our seats for the 1:00 ceremony. Right on time, the procession began: The doctoral candidates, the masters degree candidates, and the baccalaureate candidates, followed by the faculty and administrators. I have to say, every time I watch one of these processionals, I covet the regalia. My undergrad institution, Madison College (now James Madison University), provided hoods to the baccalaureates, albeit modest ones, so I have a black hood lined in purple and gold (the colors of that alma mater) and white (to signify my Bachelor of Arts degree). I didn't attend commencement to receive my Master of Arts degree, so I don't know what the hood for a Syracuse University MA would be. I love the doctoral robes and hoods, though, as well as the puffy hats and luxurious tassels. I really am a magpie, huh?

Anyway, back to the proceedings. It was a very nice, economical ceremony, without long speeches about how this was the first day of the rest of their lives or why it's called "commencement." Just hearty congratulations for attaining this milestone and good wishes for the future.

After the crowd had cleared and the pictures were snapped, we headed back to Greg's apartment to load the bulk of his possessions in his mom's car, and from there we drove to Destihl, a local brewpub with wonderful beer on offer as well as excellent food. The four of us--Greg, his mom, Jeff, and I--celebrated the new grad with toasts of ale, lager, and pilsner brewed on the premises and good wishes for a happy and fulfilling future.

Allow me to get a bit sentimental here: Greg had just turned eight a few days before I met him, and I met him on my very first day in Chicago. He was a bright kid, and a sweet kid, and, as I was soon to learn, a whiz at strategy games. He soon learned that I WASN'T, and he took great pleasure in beating me at Risk, Battleship, and (to my dismay) chess. He had his academic ups and downs during his elementary, middle, and high school career, but I never, ever doubted that he would make it through. And on December 12, he did us all proud... but most of all, he did himself proud. I won't lie, I shed a few proud and wistful tears as he strode across the stage to receive his degree. Congratulations, Greg! Here's to a happy and fulfilling future to the best stepson an evil stepmama could wish for!

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