The Ride is Over

This summer is going to be a pivotal time in all of our lives. It marks the first summer that most of us will not be preparing to head back to UMass Dartmouth. On Friday May 16th, we will cross the stage and it will cap off our tenure here on Old Westport Road. It’s an exciting and equally nerve wracking prospect that is running rapidly through our minds. At least I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It brings up so many questions for me. The main one being, what is next for me? ***** My alarm clock rang off directly next to my ear, RING RING RING. Immediately, my head starts pounding. I’ve never been so hungover in my whole life. It’s 10am, Friday May 16th 2014. I felt so shitty that I hit snooze and roll over. The toll of senior week is really hitting me now- both mentally and physically. I don’t know which is worse, dealing with the fear that the real world is upon more or the fact that I don’t think I’ll make it through a three hour commencement ceremony without throwing up in my brand new black graduation cap. I finally get out of bed in a daze an hour past noon. Not the best way to start one of the biggest days of my young adult life. If this is a precursor of what’s to come, I better get my shit together, huh? As I stumbled towards the shower still considered legally drunk, I realized that I’m running way behind schedule. I have to be on campus in twenty minutes so that I can join the graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences in preparing for our monumental march into the amphitheater. I couldn’t have been less prepared. I rushed through the entire process of getting ready. I did as best I could in my day after drunken stupor to make myself look “presentable”. I’ve always been pretty bad at doing tie knots and the condition my body was in didn’t help. I ran out the door in my dress clothes looking like a Wall Street business man looking very down on his luck. I hopped in the truck and before I could even pull out of the driveway I heaved just as I expected. Probably the first of many that would follow that day. My mother is gonna be pissed at how I look in these pictures. I could picture her face now. Filled with pride that her baby boy, her third son, had gotten his diploma. Followed by the “wow you’re an idiot and smell like a 1970s bar room floor” type reaction after I give her a kiss and thank my parents for footing the bill of my state school tuition. But at least she’ll still be proud of the achievement at hand right? When I parked I came up with a genius idea. An old Irish trick that everyone with roots to the Éire has learned through their green DNA: the old “hair of the dog” trick. I reached in my center console and saw the shimmering green glass illuminate like the Gates of Heaven. There sat four gorgeous nips of Jameson, the finest whisky in all of Ireland, what some may call a curse to all micks. I grabbed two of them immediately and shot them down my gullet. The first one traveled into my belly like a handful of rocks. I couldn’t help but make a face of disgust. Dan, stop being a bitch. I cracked the second and did the same. Now I was fired up, ready for the day. Again, if this was a precursor for my future, I better get my shit together. I pocketed the other two thinking they’d come in handy if this hangover crept back up on my during the overly long ceremony. Our commencement ceremony finally began and I was filled with a whirlwind of emotions. It was actually going pretty smooth considering the condition I was in. It was almost time for the English-Writing majors to have their moment in the sun and cross the stage to receive the piece of paper they had paid so much time and money for. I got up and filed into line with my peers in alphabetical order. As I walked up I figured it would be a good idea to “sneak” my last two nips of Jameson. I thought I was so crafty. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Professor Blitefield staring at me as I shot them down “inconspicuously”. I could feel his glare and could read his mind, Dan that’s not a very good look for you right now. But hey, you could say this was my last day as being a kid, right? The D’s were up. And then it was my time… “Daniel Joseph Dawley. Dan comes from Revere, Massachusetts and Malden Catholic High School… blah blah blah”. That’s all I could really catch from the class biographer talking about my life. I could only focus on one thing right now and that was getting up four little steps that seemed like Mount Everest. I tripped on the first two, what a good start! I grinned and looked up. The camera that was relayed to the projectors that every parent was glued to captured the face of a red-faced, drunken idiot going to claim his prize. The chancellor stuck our her hand for a shake of congratulations and I went in for a hug. Another smooth move on my part. I could hear the entire congregation laugh at my antics. I was so happy (and shitfaced) that I could have cared less how I looked at that point. In the crowd I could hear my buddies screaming “atta boy Dano!!!” When the ceremony wrapped up, I took that dreaded walk to my mother. There’s no way she would be pleased with my binge during such an important day. “My Dano! I’m so proud of you honey!” She was glowing with pride. So was my dad. And my brothers. And their fiancés. And my grandmother. And my godparents. This wasn’t a small crowd that I had to slur thank yous into. But it was my day, my time. I had done it. I graduated from UMass Dartmouth in four years and on time. Nice job kid.

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