Last night Moonie and I attended the commencement exercises for the Community College of Rhode Island, which is wrapping up its 50th anniversary celebration. The annual commencement ceremony is basically a holiday, with joyful anticipation building throughout the day, people looking for help with affixing hoods to their gowns, and bagpipe players practicing in the hallway, so Moonie was all but trembling with excitement even before the procession.
Moonie was particularly enthralled with the shiny bunches of balloons, all ready for the celebration. “Balloons!” he squealed when he noticed the display.
“Those are for the graduates,” I whispered.
“Balloons,” he whispered back sadly.
I knew he’d try to sneak over to them, and just a moment later I caught him pink-handed, trying to snuggle up to a bunch. I particularly like how his started face caught in the flash of the camera resembles luminescent-eyed wild creatures caught in nature programs’ infrared cameras.
Although he did NOT get to snuggle with the balloons, he DID get a nice, high seat to commencement so he could see everything. He enjoyed the height, and I enjoyed the break from keeping his enthusiasm in check. There were more than 1800 graduates, and he would have wanted to hug every single one of them if we’d been on the floor among them.
During the speeches, Moonie was particularly taken with Elizabeth Husted, the student speaker. Beth started at Rhode Island College in 2001 but wasn’t yet ready for college and didn’t succeed academically. She spent the better part of a decade working in hotel management and as a travel agent but, despite nightmares from her bad first experience in college, yearned to get her degree. She took a chance and enrolled at CCRI, and her brave move paid off. She kept building up so much confidence, thanks in part to the encouragement of her CCRI professors, that she ran for and won class president; ran for and won Miss Lesbian Rhode Island; and applied for and was accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year colleges. She has now been accepted into an entrepreneurship program at Bryant University, continuing to move toward her dream of opening a bed-and-breakfast on Providence’s West Side, and she gave a great speech to her many classmates. Moonie thought Beth was the coolest. Here he is trying to hug her as she ends her speech (he has a little spatial recognition problem and didn’t realize he had to be a LOT closer):
Finally, Bill Flanagan got up to deliver the keynote speech, and Moonie was enthralled with this guy whom he’d seen as an essayist on “CBS Sunday Morning” now talking about his father, who’d been CCRI’s very first and very beloved president, Dr. Flanagan. Bill spoke of how he and his siblings grew up in the CCRI president’s house and used to run around the woods (or what was once woods and now was the fieldhouse we were standing in) with bows and arrows and BB guns. History doesn’t have to be centuries old to be interesting. Moonie was excited to get a “Moonie” (Moonie-speak for “selfie”) in front of Bill Flanagan, so here he is.
All in all, it was a wonderful ceremony, and although he didn’t get to hug every graduate like he wanted, Moonie wishes all of them congratulations and his best wishes for good things to come.