Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A piece of paper

Yesterday was graduation day. Not mine but Wally's.

Well, sort of mine too.

I technically graduate next week but I think there's something about Wally's graduation that means a lot more than my own (perhaps that view will change next week, who knows?)

Unlike many of our friends Wally and I have always planned on attending our graduations. He had several friends who had already gradated from University or other programs before that didn't feel it necessary to be at this most recent ceremony. And of course some that just didn't want to go.

We have spoken many times throughout the past 3-4 years about this day. when others said how they wouldn't be going just to get a piece of paper we would state: 'Are you kidding? Of course we'll be there! We didn't sell our house and uproot our lives to miss out on on the moment of this day.' Even if it was just a 'piece of paper' it represents so much more to us than that.

With that being said Wally nor I geared ourselves up for pomp and circumstance. We looked forward to pictures with parents and the one of him getting his diploma (or at least I did). I also shared with his friends the other night at a BBQ that I wanted one of us together both in graduation gowns (even though we graduate a week a part). We also looked forward to sharing time with his parents over lunch out.

Now that it is over I can say we got all of those moments. Pictures with proud parents, Wally walking across the stage to get 'scarved' (they don't actually give you your diploma or a hat with strings a hangin'). I got several of him in the rather ugly bright red gown. Snuck a few pictures of Wally and his friends. And one of Wally's friends remembered my request for a picture of us in our grad gowns together and he offered up his extra large gown for me to pose in. I did and was so thankful.

All in all the memories we captured we perfect. Boring ceremony with one minute of elation, lots of flashes of the camera and a great lunch with Wally's parents. His dad made a point to mention how scary it must have been for us to 'step out in faith' and do what we did. We appreciated him noticing and enjoyed our 'parent time'.

Both Wally and I thought it was pretty cool that the programs for graduation were all encompassing holding every graduating program and participant's name in the book. We both made the President's Honour Roll, which really only consisted of an asterisk after each of our names. Have to admit, it seemed like a bit of a rip off for all of that hard work it took but there weren't many asterisks presented so we were proud to have our own.

When I got home from work later that evening we sat in our office/guest room and looked at the diploma together.

It has a bright shiny star shaped sticker of achievement (I wonder what they mean exactly, they seem to be necessary for certificates), a few signatures of people we don't really know or care about and tiny letters on the bottom stating 'President's Honour Roll Recipient'. Yes our diploma is indeed just a piece of paper.

However, I don't think I could ever look at our diplomas and just see diplomas.

Instead I see, flashes of memories throughout the past 4 years and maybe beyond...

I remember sitting in a cafe in Quebec with my cousin 4 years ago almost exactly when she (being the young inexperienced gal she is) proposes Wally and I go back to school. Initially I laughed. Then, for the first time in my life, considered it.

I remember coming home from that trip to Quebec (which by the way, was one of the first huge steps I took out of my 'comfort zone' in my adult life - beware! You take one step and it turns into a huge journey!!) and sitting outside on our back step making the proposal of school to Wally (him going). He thought I was crazy. I backed off a little to give him some time.

I remember being in the basement of our house that summer and pouring over college programs, none of which Wally thought he could do (which now seems hilarious), and trying my darndest to convince him that he could and that I was ready to put our hopes of having a family 'on hold' for three more years.

I remember (with the help of pictures) him getting his acceptance letter in the mail. Then his zillion dollar required laptop, then having to send it back because something was wrong with it.

I remember how tough his first semester was for him and how often he wanted to give up and he truly thought we'd made a mistake.

I remember the day he came home telling me of the first friend he made and how much they had in common. Then the day, a few months later, Wally found out his friend's 'other half' named Kerry was a man not a woman, and how we didn't give a rip.

I remember a year after he had applied to college I began to really get the itch to go to school (actually I had the itch the whole time we just thought it was more important for him to go). And how Wally barely batted an eyelash when I brought it up, but instead said 'Why not?' He told me later that in his head he was thinking 'WHAT?! YOU WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL TOO?! ARE YOU FREAKIN' CRAZY?!' He hid it very well and I love him for it.

I remember the first day of school driving my Neon an hour in the winter and getting to my first class by trying my best to recount the directions Wally gave me, so nervous too. I'll never forget seeing the clock that said 8:00AM on the dot and seeing a classroom FULL of nervous adults.

I suppose I could go on all day with what I see when I look at our diplomas. It really is so much more to us than a couple of pieces of paper.

Our diplomas represent so much more than our education at a school. They represent, for us, taking our first steps as a couple completely out of our normal life routine to see if there was anything else out there for us.

And finding out there was.

A whole world.

Never underestimate a piece of paper. Whether it's a diploma, a note from a friend, a drawing from a kid, or something with a few numbers scratched on it.

A piece of paper could change your life.

Or ... remind you that you can change it with one little decision, whatever that decision may be.