Kate graduated from the University of Utah with two degrees; one in Linguistics and one in International Studies. She carried a minor in Chinese. She will move to Houston TX in a few weeks, where she has secured a position with Teach for America. She will be teaching English as a second language to underprivileged 4th - 8th graders for two years. In the meantime she will also be earning her Masters degree. Check out Teach for America's website, www.teachforamerica.org. Our pseudo-son, Jason Gardner made his way to New York through Teach for America. It is a wonderful and noble program and Kate is honored to be selected to be a part of it.
Today's Word of the Day is: flow.
May 6, 2008 Flow
Friday morning we wove our way through the asphalt veins of Salt Lake City, up toward the mountains like blood flows to the heart. Deep red blood. A steady stream of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children and aunts and uncles; we lined up like platelets, like symbols in a DNA strand and jumped into the flow that pooled in the Huntsman Center at the U of U. We planted ourselves in a row of red seats just before the music started. Trumpets sounded and everyone stood. Over to the right of us a whole section was filled with robed youth, their square mortar board hats looking like a mass of black pixels on an HD screen. Among them was our Kate.
Against the music, with pomp and ceremony, a thin flow of knowledge slid across the wooden floor below us. Professors draped in robes of many colors; bright blue and deep royal purple, gold and crimson red. Some wore hats, caps flopped to the side of their heads in a slightly sacred manner. Layers of fabric, each one added upon in the order of bestowed degrees, the colors of their Alma Maters and various honors and fellowships. Cords dangling; arms striped with heavy velvet like the thick blue-lined school paper we learned to write our names on. I have been the parent in many of these ceremonies. This is our last child to earn her first college degree. There are robes hanging in the closet in our basement in all colors and sizes. Every time I come I am moved. Emotion rises up and spills and I am every time taken aback. I am allowed, for this little spot in time, to witness the representation of life-threads weaving across each other. In that flow of professors that cross the wooden floor; in the mass of black robed graduates sitting before them. I am touched by the exchange of knowledge that has consumed their lives for so long; daily; hourly; word by word. I am compelled to be still and inhale. Likely it is the convergence of many emotions that makes it so meaningful to me: the end of an era for our child; a moment of reflection on the last how-many years; the opening of a new doorway for someone we cherish. But it is as much the purity of this unique human experience of exchanging knowledge that makes me shiver with reverence. As one by one graduate’s names were called, we watched like angels looking over the edges of heaven. Making their way back to their seats they passed their professors, lined up before them. Dipping out of line they reached out to each other with handshakes, with embraces, with salutes and bows and high-fives. Like the passing of a torch. Like the breaking of the bread. Like blood taken from one vein and poured into another which is lacking. Like rivers and streams all gather at the ocean. We stood there in our high-up seats and watched and wept.
We finally found Kate, lined up on the floor awaiting the calling of her name and the bestowal of her diploma. One of over 1,000. As I watched her and her classmates stream past the deans, I thought of the confetti blasters Mark Robinette created for the Clytie Adams ballet recitals and the 4th of July shows he produces. He loads handfuls of paper confetti into long white tubes and at the proper moment, on the exact downbeat of the designated measure of music, the confetti goes flying through the air. I imagined graduates, like confetti, floating all across the stage of the world and landing in new and exciting places. Kate? She will land 25 hours away by car. Too far for this mother-heart, but closer than Hong Kong, in more respects than just miles. She will take her diploma, still smelling of fresh ink, and file it in some drawer in her desk. She will take her equally fresh ability to learn and set it to work. And too, she will take her ancient tender heart and give it full out to the children of Houston, many of whom will not know what to do with tenderness. She will teach them, unawares, about the flow of love, hidden like Easter eggs under the words of the English language. She will become the vein. The flow of knowledge will come through her, past her very large and capable heart, and nourish the blood of a hungry, longing child. An honor, indeed.