It was an unusually warm night and I was sitting outside on a plastic chair on College walk. Bleachers and chairs had been set up for the University Commencement and the fountains filled with ferns and flowers. It was nearing morning, and a group of us had decided the best way to spend our last night as undergrads was to wander the campus and reminisce. A security guard told us we had to leave and eventually, tired, we dispersed and made our way back to our respective twin-XL beds.
In the morning, we gathered outside of Avery in our powdered blue gowns awaiting the chime of St. Paul’s bells and the commencement of our Commencement ceremony. Mike overslept. So did Bill and Dan. Luckily there was Andres and Tiffany, Chris and Brendan, Jen and Rachel, and others. We were all carrying apples, which served a dual purpose. On one hand, they were our sustenance for the upcoming 2 hours. On the other, they were a symbol of the course work we had completed — Columbia College’s famous Core Curriculum. They were going to be chucked at Barnard at the conclusion of the commencement exercises. That’s the tradition any how. I think I ended up throwing mine at a dental student. I thought that was more appropriate.
Prez Bo spoke and it was a great speech. Dan and Bill caught up on their beauty rest (they really needed it). My godfather, Hilton, his wife, Heather, my godmother, Marion, my folks, and my surrogate aunts, Janet and Joan were in the audience and were very impressed with out dear ol’ super cool University President. I’m excited to hear what he has to say in 2009. We’re at the verge of a new world and the CU graduates are privileged to be walking out of this university in this singular economic climate with the degrees they have earned.
back to 2007…
Appropriately, Barbara Novak, the Americanist in art history whose books are canonical in the field, was given a special award. There were a few other important announcements and other awards and other speeches. It was 90 degrees and I was sweating into a Marc Jacobs dress that would have been considered vintage by Marc Jacob standards. The gown was unzipped and half off. I could tell my forehead was burning, and as it turned out, I wasn’t wrong. When I got home, I realized I had a peak shaped sunburn that marked the outline of my cap. Thanks. Wear Sunscreen. I should have remembered.
After Commencement, the Reckling clan traveled back to Westchester, where after a quick change of costume, there was a champagne toast. Sean joined the ensemble and we headed to midtown for dinner at Brasserie 8 1/2. Susan and Boris took seats at the table, where blue drinks in honor of Columbia were popular choices. Too many toasts were raised and too many appetizers were ordered. It was a wonderful celebration with all the people who had been there for me since day 1 or who had shaped the course my life followed up to that point.
Afterward, I was dropped back at Hogan where my task was to finish packing before the morning move-out. Fail.
I met Dan to say good-bye. A quick hug in the middle of Broadway. The short good-byes are the best. Chris, Genvieve and I met in my suite and headed over to 1020. Schneider was already there and along with Chris, the three of us closed the bar. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Schneider. We walked back to Hogan where eventually we would all make our way back to our own suites after many hugs and nostalgic reflections on the years past.
With only about 3 hours of sleep under my belt, I woke up and finished packing up my items in Hogan 4b. Saw Chris one more time in the hallway before loading the final bags into the car. Said my good-byes to Rachel and Mike and Hosey — we’d all be seeing each other soon enough. God know how much stuff was left behind in that suite. I knew I’d be back in the fall, but as the car pulled down 114th and as I evaluated the contents that had come out of the suite and thought back on Wednesday night and the days before, I knew that Columbia was never going to be the same. I waved back at a few familiar faces, ones I have yet to see again. The chapter had closed and the emptiness dug by the good-byes was mitigated only by the excitement about what lay in the near future.