:: Saturday, June 10, 2006 ::
Thursday was the longest day ever, filled with emotional highs and goodbyes…
Thursday was Commencement Day, and we all had to get up at 6 a.m. to meet in the dining hall for a champagne breakfast. It was definitely too early to be drinking alcohol, but the breakfast was really nice. I enjoyed the croissant egg and cheese sandwich and all the fresh fruit.
During the breakfast my friend was sitting next to me, and she had a croissant sandwich that was cut in half. I asked her if she was going to eat it, and she said she wasn’t going to eat the other half. She started to hand me one half of the sandwich but then withdrew her hand, saying, “Oh, I think I took a bite from that half; here, I didn’t eat from this half.” And I said, “Wow, it’s like Russian roulette with oral herpes!” And my friend snapped at me, saying, “I don’t have oral herpes!” Sensing that she was offended, I said, “Oh, is it too early to be making oral herpes jokes?” And my other friend at the table turned around and said, “It’s never too early to be making oral herpes jokes!!!” Ah, my last hurrah in the Leverett Dining Hall. Good times.
Close to 7, our house master began screaming at us to line up for the procession to Harvard Yard. His usage of the German word “Schnell! Schnell!” was, um, interesting. “I thought these iron-fisted verbal techniques fell out of popularity following the fall of the Third Reich in the 1940s, but I guess a revival of Nazi Germany is in order!!!” A Dixieland jazz band led our procession into the yard, and it was fun and festive while we made our way to the ceremony.
We were led into Memorial Church for a service with Reverend Gomes, but our house got there very early, and all the students from the other houses had not yet arrived, so we waited there in the church. At least we had really great seats. After they all came and settled into the church, Reverend Gomes delivered a speech called “The Multitude of the Wise,” based on the Bible quote “The multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world.” It was an inspirational speech about how with more educated people in society, the better off it is. He also talked about the doubt and regrets we graduates may feel about our four years at Harvard and reassured us that we were prepared to take on the challenges of the world. Then he said, “And anyways, they had to give these Harvard degrees to somebody… it might as well be all of you.”
We then headed outside again and watched the procession of faculty members, led by Harvard University President Larry Summers. We then were seated in Tercentenary Theater in Harvard Yard, where we waited for the Commencement Exercises to begin. It was still a very wet day, although thank goodness it didn’t rain as hard as it did the day before during Class Day. There was light rain throughout the ceremony, but we were all prepared with umbrellas and ponchos worn underneath our gowns. The mortarboards also deflected much of the rain from our faces.
All traditional protocol was followed, with Harvard hymns and rousing anthems performed by the Harvard University Band and Choir. There were also the traditional orations delivered in Latin and English by students. Then the university president and the deans of the various schools that make up Harvard University conferred degrees to the graduating classes of 2006. It was fun to see what the students of the various graduate schools held up in the air when their degrees were announced. For example, the graduating students of the Harvard School of Dentistry held up tubes of toothpaste when their degree was conferred, and the students of the Graduate School of Education held up children’s books at their announcement. My family had gotten up early to get good seats for the ceremony. Finally, the university conferred honorary Harvard degrees to various faculty members.
After the Morning Exercises, we headed to our residential houses for smaller ceremonies to actually receive our diplomas. The ceremony was held indoors because of the rain. It got really emotional because we were finally getting our diplomas and it was the last time the senior class of Leverett House would be all together. Our names were announced one by one to pick up our diplomas in front of friends and family members, and then we said goodbye to our house masters, senior tutor, and residential tutors. A box lunch in the dining hall with our families followed. The diploma is really nice. I’ll have to find a nice frame for it.
My family and I then headed to Sanders Theater for the Afternoon Exercises. Larry Summers gave a speech about the state of the university, talking about his accomplishments as president and his hopes of continued improvements even after he leaves the university. Our commencement speaker was broadcast journalist Jim Lehrer of the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. His speech proposed mandatory public service for all US citizens in order to create a shared experience for everyone in the country. And with that, I was all done with Harvard.
My family and I wandered about the Harvard campus one last time to take pictures, and then we went to the Coop to return my cap and gown and for my mother to get some more souvenirs. We then had Thai food for dinner at 9 Tastes and then I used the $25 gift certificate I received at Finale, where we got 5 mini desserts to split among our family. We got cheesecake, tiramisu, crème brulee, Boston cream pie, and chocolate cake.
That evening, I was sad to be leaving the next day, so I was listening to sad goodbye songs like “I will remember you; will you remember me?” and “I hope you had the time of your life” and “Here’s to the night we felt alive… here’s to goodbye tomorrow’s gonna come too soon…” while looking at pictures of my friends on my computer from the past four years of college. SAD TEAR!!! I then decided I would start the rounds of saying goodbye, so I went to visit my friend Molly, who was also sad to have to be saying goodbye. We chatted for a bit and then proceeded to go to the 6th floor U, where we said goodbye to more people. A bunch of others visited, and we chatted one last time.
I then went with Marion and Angela and Molly and Mike to the Charles where we proceeded to burn lists of unsatisfactory people and things from our time at Harvard, a sort of cathartic release of the negative feelings so we won’t carry them away with us. I then went to the Kong for one last snack at that venerable restaurant where I spent so many Friday and Saturday nights. Ah, I’m going to miss the surly waiters… and the grease. I said goodbye to my friends Marion, Fran, and Kayt, and Caroline and Melissa. I then went and said goodbye to more people on the 6th floor U and proceeded to Mather to say goodbye to Kayt again along with her roommates. We chatted some more, but everyone was exhausted from getting up so early for commencement, so we all went to sleep early.
Friday, I got up early and Kayt came over. I had to finish packing and send things over to the donation bin, and Kayt ever so kindly helped me. We went to have lunch at Pinocchio’s Pizza one last time, in memory of all our late-night trips to get food from there freshman year when we lived across the hall from each other. Who knew then at the beginning of freshman year when Kayt and I first met to awkwardly watch fuzzy programming on MTV2 with the rest of our roommates that we’d end up being best friends at Harvard?
We then visited our friends Ben and Scott and said goodbye to them. Kayt then helped me get my stuff down to the sidewalk and waited with me for my taxi. We said goodbye one last time, and I rode off to the airport to fly back to California.
It was such a sad evening/morning… I said goodbye to so many good friends. I kept thinking to myself that I’d see them again sometime, but it wasn’t very consoling because I wouldn’t see them all the time anymore. I’m going to miss all the good company… the good times. Sad tear.
At the airport, I dropped off luggage with my family, since I was on a different flight. It was storming pretty heavily in Boston that last day, so my flight was delayed for a couple of hours. There were also delays in my stopovers in Philadelphia and Las Vegas. Las Vegas was nice, in the 15 minutes I spent there. The airport is right next to the Strip, and the city is lit up so nicely at night. The temperature was a nice 90 degrees in the middle of the night, too. I’m going to have to visit Las Vegas again sometime. I finally arrived back at home at about 2:30 a.m., tired and sad from all the last minute packing and saying goodbye to everyone. Alas. Time for sleep.
Thus begins a new chapter in my life. The real world awaits with new adventures and possibilities. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
“Sam J: You just graduated from Harvard, what are you going to do next?!?”
“I’m going to Disneyland!!!”
Quote(s) of the Day: “I’m disconcerted!” “Oh, poo poo.” [in unison] “PLATTER!!!” [still in unison] “We are the same person!!!”
“I am in no way racist against Asians, as evidenced by my roommates. I’ve got a South Asian, a half-Asian, a regular Asian…”
“What are regular Asians?”
“Oh, you know… the ones that aren’t South Asian or half Asian…”
“Sit down unless you want a degree in dentistry!!!”
:: SL 1:22 PM [+] ::