My best friend from the University of Washington messaged me the other day: “Last class of my undergraduate degree!” I responded positively, albeit less animated than usual as I was waking up from a nap. When I got up from my bed, I walked to the bathroom and stared at my reflection. I was panicking.
In five weeks I’ll be sending that same text message.
(To be fair, I’m distracting myself by mentally planning exactly what alumni apparel I get to drop $300 on at the M Den.) (As if. I’ll be buying the $20 gray hooded sweatshirt with “Michigan Alumni” emblazoned on the breast that you find in that bonus room on the second floor that smells slightly like library books.)
I tend to think that something is much, much harder (grandiose, or easier or happier) than it really is. I hype something up to the point that I’m creating an entirely different situation than what is presented before me.
I propose that graduation is not like this. Our hype, our panic, our worry, our oh-my-god-what-is-happening vibe is completely validated. I also propose that this transition manifests itself in our manic dinner reservations. Bear with me, I swear I have a point out of this ludicrous statement.
Over Thanksgiving Break, I remember talking with my mom about making dinner reservations for graduation weekend. I explained that the reason I was doing a less-than-stellar job at saving my minimum-wage paycheck was because I was “researching” restaurants for graduation weekend. We agreed that as soon as the restaurants would take reservations, I would make three, one for every night my family is coming out to Ann Arbor.
Winter Break, I couldn’t make the reservations.
Spring Break, I couldn’t make the reservations.
In all honesty, I came back from Spring Break, spent three days not checking to see if I could make reservations, and then decided to wait a more couple days before checking again. Two days later, I couldn’t make a single reservation (hyperbolic, I managed one on Friday night).
Like there was just one zebra carcass in the middle of the Serengeti, the vultures swooped in and devoured the innards and licked the black-and-white skin off their lips (in this metaphor, the reservation is the zebra and the seniors are the vultures).
Our hyped-up sense of nervousness about graduation transitioned into hyper-awareness about over planning. Planning for the one thing that we can, because we can’t plan for the feeling of throwing our hats up in the air and letting go of this place we call home.
I’m only slightly bitter that everything was booked. My mom prefers cooking at home anyway (healthier, cheaper, easier), and considering I have a kitchen in my apartment, it all works out for the better. Instead of rushing to make a reservation, everyone is welcome at my house for some baked salmon and roasted asparagus over a bed of quinoa. Or just some roasted chicken and frozen peas. Either way, it’s going to be with my family.
And either way, I’m going to graduate.
How to: Listen to your mom and make a reservation for graduation the first time she asks you.
1. You know you will feel better if you can check that off your mental to-do list
2. She’s usually always right.
3. That restaurant you really want to eat at will be booked within the next week anyway, right?
4. Ask them in the sweetest, sugar-coated tone you can if you can make a reservation.
5. If they say yes, smile and say you need a table for 16 in the middle of their dinner rush.
6. Congratulations, you won the game of life.
7. Re: your mom is always right.
8. If they say no, don’t lose faith.
9. Clear your throat, and call the next place on your list.
10. Repeat step nine as many times as necessary.
11. Your patio really isn’t a bad option, either.
12. Congratulations and have a good graduation weekend!