I got your words of wisdom right here.

It’s the end of May, and you know what that means: high school graduation.

When I graduated from high school, lo these 17 years ago, I was one of the speakers from my class. I know that I was supposed to speak for two minutes and only two minutes. I remember that I congratulated our golf team on winning the state championship the day before. And I vaguely remember some sort of “we’re not all going to live next door to each other and have barbecues every Sunday” sort of comment. But other than that?

I don’t remember much, other than being embarrassed that I was up there. Oh, and I had a hornet sting on my right palm. This meant that I couldn’t shake anybody’s hand and that I was doped to the gills on Benadryl. Good times.

But really, 17 years later, there’s one thing I have really retained from high school graduation.

My umbrella.

This is not some sort of allegory about protecting yourself and making it through the rain – although that’s a great Barry Manilow song. No, I’m talking about the actual physical umbrella that I received as a graduation gift.

I carried it in my backpack every single day of college. I only lost it once, leaving it in a classroom my freshman year. But because I attended a tiny little school that year, the umbrella was waiting patiently on the chalkboard ledge when I returned in hopes of retrieving it.

And now, that colorful but not outdated umbrella is in my car. The velcro on the little strap that holds it shut is long gone, as is the umbrella condom thing it came with. (Seriously – who puts their umbrella in a protective matching sheath after every use? Seriously.) But my colorful water repeller, she with the sturdy wooden handle and can-do attitude? Still kickin’ it.

I truly think this is one of my greatest accomplishments since high school. And maybe someday I’ll be asked to give a high school commencement speech and can show off my umbrella and discuss the importance of keeping your shit together.

Or maybe I’ll skip the umbrella all together and instead spread the message about how going to college totally pays off. Because at college graduation? Instead of ham buns and sheet cake, there’s beer.

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