Big thanks to Libby who suggested I write about Warren's graduation. It was a lot of fun :)
Disclaimer: All canon characters and settings are the property of Disney. Anyone or anything unfamiliar to the franchise belongs to me.
"How does it feel to be back on campus, Jay?"
"This wasn't my campus, but I suppose I did spend a lot of time here. It's actually pretty weird to be back after so long."
Will looked around at the lush gardens and tall, old style buildings with appreciative eyes. "It's nice," he said. "Of course Warren got accepted to such a fancy school."
I laughed. "Like you wouldn't go here if you got the chance."
He smiled at me. "Whatever. I'm too manly for a place like this."
"You're so full of shit."
He merely shrugged and looked back over his shoulder to where our parents trailed behind, taking in the scenery. Michelle had her camera out and was snapping picture after picture, not wanting to miss a moment of her son's college graduation.
"Mom, come on," Will called. "We need to get to our seats before the ceremony starts."
Mom looked up at the sound of his voice and smiled sheepishly. Personally, I thought it was cute how taken they were by this place; I didn't even go to school here and I adored it. "Sorry, honey. Lead the way."
They weren't the only ones still hanging around the main gardens. Several families and students lingered near the outdoor amphitheater where the ceremony would be held, laughing and taking photos.
It must be a parent thing.
'Of course it is. Have you forgotten how many pictures your mother took at your graduation?'
I smiled to myself, recalling how my face had ached from the smile I'd been forced to hold for the million and one photos that for some reason were all absolutely necessary. To this day I was still impressed that the memory card in her camera still had room on it by the end of the day.
'I imagine you'll be much the same when your children graduate from college.'
Yeah, I probably will. But today Warren's graduating and if we don't hurry up we're going to be late.
My eyes scanned the sea of black clad students for Warren's face as we made our way down to our seats, but he was lost in the crowd of eager graduates. I hadn't seen him since we all went out for dinner the night before, but we had spoken on the phone earlier this morning. He had sounded fairly relaxed for someone about to finish college, yet there was an undercurrent of panic that he had been unable to hide. Not from me, at least - because I had felt the exact same way when I graduated. You didn't realize until the day of that the last four years of your life, all the hard work, the tears and temper tantrums, the late nights and excessive coffee consumption – all of it was about to pay off.
But it wasn't until you received that certificate that you realized it was all worth it in the end.
"They certainly picked the perfect day for this," Michelle said from beside me. "The weather is beautiful."
It really was. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and hints of spring still clung to the earth; there were even ducks swimming in the lake behind the stage. It didn't get much better than this.
'You're not going to cry are you?' D asked, although I could hear the joy in her voice. They were just as happy for Warren as I was.
Probably. Good thing Michelle brought tissues.
Not long after that did the ceremony begin. Everyone fell silent as the head of the school made their way to the podium for the opening speech, welcoming us to the ceremony and praising the students on all their hard work. I listened intently, the beginnings of pride swirling about in my chest; I was always proud of Warren, but this was a huge achievement for him. A part of him had always wanted to go to college, but his own self doubt had held him back until he found the courage to take that first step, just as I had. I knew how hard he had worked to get here and as the Valedictorian stepped up to make her speech I felt tears stinging the corners of my eyes.
'Aaand she's crying.'
'Oh, like you're not emotional. Leave her alone,' L laughed.
'It's just a speech. I'll understand her crying when they're being called up for their diplomas, but now?'
'Hush. It's a special day, she can cry whenever she wants. Look at Michelle; she was crying before we even got here.'
Sure enough, a quick glance to the left showed Michelle already dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. I smiled and covered her hand with my own; she gripped my fingers tight.
'Careful, Mama Bear. We need those.'
Will, who sat on my other side, cleared his throat and I chuckled quietly. It seemed everyone was emotional today.
After several other speeches, they began to call the students up to receive their diplomas. One by one they rose from their seats and walked with a bounce in their step to the stage; some people skipped and one guy even danced the whole way there, which received much laughter and applause.
It took a while to get to the P students, but I still enjoyed watching everyone celebrate their accomplishments. I felt like a kindred spirit to these students, having been in their shoes myself.
And then he was called.
I didn't care if it was silly or if I drew attention to myself; the moment his name reached my ears I was on my feet and applauding so hard my hands began to tingle. And I wasn't alone. Mom, dad, Will and Michelle all stood up with me, Will yelling and whistling in encouragement. I knew how happy he was to be here in support of his best friend, who was soon to be Best Man in his wedding.
Warren walked to the stage with his head held high and a wide smile on his face. I watched as he shook the hands held out to him before graciously taking his diploma from the Headmistress. Before he left the stage he turned and looked out into the crowd, several locks of his dark hair peeking out from under his graduation cap. He looked so happy up there and I felt the first few tears roll down my cheeks just as our eyes met. He beamed at me and the sob that had been stuck in my throat burst forth, sounding more like an overjoyed giggle.
When the rest of the students had been called to receive their diplomas, the Headmistress announced them as this year's graduating class and then the world was nothing but sound and a flurry of black caps being launched into the air.
And my cheers could be heard over it all.
Hooray for Warren!
For those who don't remember, Warren was a student at Vassar's New York campus - which is beautiful, by the way. Also, he doesn't have long hair anymore; he got it cut after his first year of college. Think of Steven's hair in The Covenant. *swoon* He was so pretty in that movie.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts :) I'm also loving that I'm seeing some familiar names popping up not only in reviews, but alerts as well. I've missed you guys.
I probably won't be able to update again before the new year, but I'll do my best. If not, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. See you in 2014!