Sunday, June 12, 2011
One for the Books
The first time I ran along the UC Davis Arboretum trails, I wondered what would unfold during the next four years and what it would feel like to be finished, as in “done done” – a parent of grown children. I never pictured graduation day, and maybe that’s a good thing considering how the real day developed.
We arrived in Davis hours later than expected due to airplane delays, cutting off an afternoon of planned activities once we reached our destination. I am not complaining because you can’t predict the weather. Still, it was an omen.
“Get out of the car – now! I don’t care that it’s moving!”
The next morning, we were enroute when we were asked to buy bandages. Our older daughter had cut her foot. She also was (temporarily) ill and vomiting.
On the way to the pavilion, we hit heavy traffic and our daughter got sick again. On the outside of the car. Both girls were told to get out, one to get fresh air and one to get in her graduation line on time. At the time we were stopped at a traffic light, but no one made their move until it turned green and we started rolling. By then passengers in nearby cars were no doubt thinking, “Thank goodness I’m not with that family.”
No commencement speaker and still it lasts three hours When you attend a big, big school, you have big, big ceremonies. Even broken down by college, it takes awhile to go through that many diploma recipients. Especially when there are almost 2,000 in your college alone.
Our daughter had affixed a lowercase e to her cap for a group photo that spelled out their major. Everyone else apparently went with uppercase letters, but that made her easy to spot as she entered the pavilion. She found us too, waaaaay up in the stands. I did go down and shoot video of her moving across the stage.
Afterward, we were heading out for lunch when a motorcyclist failed to fully round a corner, lost control and slammed into our car. We all screamed, convinced we'd find a bloody mess as we exited all four doors and rushed to the rescue. Both the paramedics and police were great.
It was quite an impact, but the lucky young man had invested well in safety gear and was spared all but a few bumps and bruises. Even his bike looked better than expected. But it left us all a little shaken for the remainder of the day. We saw him later that night because he also happened to be my daughter’s next-door neighbor.
“Dad smells like sewage water!”
Before leaving for our dinner reservations in Sacramento, my husband and daughter went to an automatic carwash to clean off the vomit. They almost immediately felt a surge of foul-smelling sluice rush into the backseat and realized someone had left their window partially down. That would be me.
An hour later we all piled back into the soggy Corolla for pictures and Benihana’s; my husband needed to be “Febrezed” to make the trip tolerable. It’s a good thing we took these steps because we ended up in the car much longer than anticipated, having been given directions to a farm instead of a strip mall.
We were 45 minutes late for our reservation for 12, made many months ago. I really want to commend the staff at that restaurant off Madison Ave. for not only accommodating us after we blew our start time but also providing exceptional service.
And so, when a new day dawned, I put on my running shoes, grabbed my recyclable key card and retraced my first run through Davis, only this time from a downtown hotel instead of a dorm. I had the place to myself and sometimes I stopped to read placards or cross a bridge or jump over a sitting duck.
The arboretum looked just as I always remembered it, and I exited with the same mixture of pride and bewilderment as I had four years ago when we first arrived on campus. It seemed as if nothing had changed since I stepped onto that unknown path. And yet, everything had.