Colby and I at Preschool graduation.
I am currently sitting in one of my “Top 5 Places to Sit”: the ratty, dog-hair covered, Christmas-colored, plaid couch in the sunroom of my house. This is where, in summers past, I could be found on any given day waiting out the afternoon thunderstorm wrapped in a beach towel with the reading selection of the week held inches from my nose. Today was very reminiscent of those past summer days because I found myself waiting out a particularly gloomy cloud-covered day and, per usual, completely immersed in yet another summer novel…
But there was a lot more to today than losing myself in the intricately witty writing of Megan Mcafferty; today was the day of preschool graduation at Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church and the dismissal of several of my favorite four- and five-year olds into the uncharted territory known as elementary school. The majority of today’s graduates had been in my mom’s Pre-K class for the last two years, and I spent last summer in a few of their homes getting to know them as I took on the roles of Spiderwoman and Evil Step-Mother and coloring-artist extraordinaire. So today, as I sat in row three of the onlookers behind the mommies and daddies I have come to know so well, I cried right along with them as cap and gown clad kid after cap and gown clad kid entered the stage as the little ones I knew who sang alphabet songs and exited as a mature kindergarten-bound bundles of potential.
So as I watched these little kids, whose hopes and dreams currently range from growing up to be Darth Vader to princesses to famous motorcycle riders, it slowly dawned on me how the long and happy roads that lie ahead of them are much the same as the one that spread out in front of me when I donned the red cap and gown that designated me a graduate of Happyland Preschool 15 years ago.
Today, as I sat eating Pad Thai with my parents at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Thai dive, the conversation turned to graduation once again, but this time to my ever-drawing-nearer college graduation. It shocks and awes me to think of the 16-year gap, that seemed like 16 minutes, that will separate my preschool and college graduation. And something even more shocking is how, a breath ago I was marching across a stage to get my high school diploma.
The last three years have been eye opening. I know so much more now about where I want this winding road to take me than I did when I stepped off that stage a high-school grad. If someone had tried to tell me then that my plans would shift from being the next Katie Couric to a photographer of all things southern I would have had no idea how to get there, because the map I had drawn up did not lead me down that road. But somehow, I am well on my way. Opportunities have presented themselves in a way that seems like nothing other that a fate orchestrated by God’s own hands. And although, most of the time, it feels like I am running on over-drive and couldn’t slow down enough to take a sharp right that comes at me from no where if I had to, I know this is the path I should travel right now. It’s bumpy, and sometimes lonely, but it is leading me somewhere down the road that will most certainly surpass my expectations and make the highs outweigh the lows…Like my fortune cookie said tonight, in a wise tone that only fortune cookies can convey: “The road is never crowded on the extra-mile.”
So, just like when you graduate from preschool and enter into the unknown halls of elementary school, you can’t let the fact that the faces are new and the routine is different throw you off. You just have to take it in stride and put one foot in front of the other and believe, in the words of Bon Jovi, “ That right here right now, you're exactly where you're supposed to be.”