Friday, May 22, 2009

In a Texas state of mind

I am in Houston for the weekend, a place that was home for many years.

I'm back came for two big events: (1) my eldest niece is graduating tomorrow from the same all-girls Catholic high school that my 2 sisters and I attended and (2) my youngest Texas niece is graduating from 8th grade. Marvels, both of them. Kind, witty, smart, lovely, just plain good.

St. Agnes Academy has a tradition on the day before graduation of honoring seniors in a special ceremony called Madonna Day. The seniors wear their cap and gowns for the first time, carry roses onto the stage, and place them in vases at the foot of a statue of Mary that is 100+ years old. Awards are given, speeches are made, and lots of pictures are taken. After the event, families who have 2 or more generations of graduates come together for pictures that will appear at some point in the alumni magazine.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that this is the first time I've returned to my high school since I graduated. And I loved my high school. The Dominican sisters make wonderful educators. I loved being in an all-girls school. I had opportunities I would never have had in mixed-gender setting. So it perplexes me why it has taken me so long to go back.

I do remember vividly the thought that came to mind the minute I stepped out of the auditorium with my diploma in hand. Is this is? Four hard years, many many friendships, proms, musicals, exams, basketball and volleyball games, choir trips, and it's all over? The sentiment is not quite the same as Is this all there is? But it's related. Was I afraid all these years that the adage "You can't go home" was true? Afraid to be disappointed or terribly saddened?

Today, though, as I watched my beloved niece enter the familiar auditorium in the familiar white cap and gown and heard the senior class sing the familiar parting song, "We are St. Agnes seniors, preparing to depart..." I realized how very naive my reaction had been, and how much about me has changed and what is immutable.

I realize now that somehow, without any effort on our part, we remain linked to those places and people that have rested in our hearts, even if we have put great distances of time and geography between them and ourselves, even if we don't return to pictures, or reflect on memories, or dream of them.

And, today, I found that wonderfully reassuring.

5 comments:

Gaston Studio said...

I know, they can say 'home is where the heart is' but I still long for my hometown which I haven't lived in for at least 3 decades.

ellen abbott said...

Well, Kathleen, had I known maybe we could have met but I'm at the country house for the weekend. Send me an email thru my profile if you are going to be in town past the weekend.

Rudee said...

What a lovely post Kathleen. Enjoy yourself in Houston.

Erin Davis said...

What a wonderful tradition to be connected to and to share with the next generation of girls in your family! Lovely.

Kathleen said...

Jane: May you be able to visit your hometown soon, whilst sleeping or awake!

Ellen: Shazbaht! I can't believe I missed a chance to meet! I will most definitely send you an e-mail next time. Wharton, eh? Do you know any Schwartzbachs, as in Julie? Now a Vander P?

Rudee--Even without a photo? I had limited connectivity while in Houston. So frustrating, but I just had to get those thoughts out. The trip was woderful. Thanks for your commmet!

Erin: I sure hope we can get a 3rd generation shot some day. They'll probably have to roll me in on a gurney, but my neice said she did plan to have children (whew!) so with any luck, and if we get some girls, I just might be back to keep up the tradition. Thanks for the comment!

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