It’s an exciting week here in Camden, especially for parents like me who have seniors graduating from Camden Hills Regional High School.
Last Saturday was the prom, in which the gym was transformed into an underwater paradise befitting the “Atlantis” theme.
On Monday, my daughter and her fellow Class of 2013 mates gathered at the middle school, and then, accompanied by the memorable strains of bagpipes, marched through town toward the First Congregational Church for the baccalaureate service. Main Street was lined with parents and friends, businessmen and tourists, all wishing the soon-to-be graduates well.
Tuesday was the parent-senior dinner, featuring surprisingly good food, student-proffered musical performances, a slide-show, and tear-jerking talks by father-daughter and mother-son teams. Awards night is tonight, and early tomorrow we head to the cafeteria for the parent-senior breakfast.
And then, finally, comes Friday night’s graduation ceremony. The gym will be festooned with red and white banners, chairs will be set up for parents, grandparents. aunts, uncles and friends, and, at precisely eight o’clock, in will march the graduates in their black caps and gowns.
Some parents grumble about the week-long build up. They recall their own high school graduations as simple, one-day affairs, and wonder why they have to slog through so many different events. Perhaps these folks are jealous of the attention lavished on the “kids” for this week, attention they didn’t get and maybe never will, or perhaps they’re just grouchy curmudgeons. (We have a few here in Maine.) I think it’s more likely that they’re missing the whole point.
Anticipation. It’s what Carly Simon sang about all those years ago, before her words became a catsup commercial. Remember how the song starts?
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway…
It’s the same thing we do in Maine with the whole month of June. While the lilacs, lupines, and lady slippers are blooming, we’re dreaming about summer and all the great warm-weather activities we’ll do. I envision lots of hikes in the Camden Hills, sailing on Penobscot Bay, a visit to Popham Beach, Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market, and long, lazy afternoons reading mysteries in the hammock at our camp on Pitcher Pond. Maybe I’ll dust off my Lady Sandra Palmer golf clubs for a few rounds with friends, start writing a new novel, and hike the Beehive in Acadia. It’s all a possibility as I write these words.
One of my friends commented recently that pre-summer is actually better than summer, precisely because we get to anticipate. Summer is a short eight weeks, she reasons, over before we can barely bat an eye. “The best part of summer is before it even happens,” she says.
A pessimistic view, and counter to our “live in the present” mantra, but I think she’s on to something. Anticipation is like a tantalizing drug, tempting us to believe all things are possible. As Carly says, we can never know about the days to come – whether we’ll be too busy with work to get in many hikes, if the weather will cooperate as we plan a sail, or if we’ll even be around in a month – but in our dreams, all things can happen.
It’s the same way with a book release, right? The excitement over what the finished product will look like, the suspense of wondering if readers will enjoy it, the agonizing wait to see if sales support all the work that went in to producing it. (Not unlike the feelings of some of the parents of high school seniors, I suspect!)
I wouldn’t be a mystery writer if I didn’t bring up Hitchcock, the master of anticipation, whose famous comment about the
subject goes like this:
There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.
He’s giving those if us who write a subtle hint about creating suspense, as well as proffering advice for 2013 graduates like Lexi (or Alexandra Leigh Doudera, as the school principal will announce on Friday night as he hands her a diploma.) The future isn’t a frightening place unless you think it is.
My graduate is good at living in the moment, at knowing that what Carly Simon said in Anticipation is true: These are the good old days. They aren’t coming; they are here, right now. Yes, she’s excited to start her new life – the one that begins on Labor Day when we take her to Northeastern University – but she’s also living fully in her wonderful present.
And that’s a real gift, one that I can strive to emulate.
Good luck, Lexi, and to all members of the Class of 2013!