BLAME IT ON THE RAIN… OR LACK THEREOF…
Tonight, it finally rained on the southeast coast of Texas… everywhere but Houston. It rained (monsooned) in the counties north, east and west of Houston, but not in Houston. My car used to be a nice berry color, but now my car classifies as dusky fawn or dusty beige metallic. I’m in the “Why bother to wash it?” phase. After all, I do work next to the freeway, so every day, my car gets a fresh coat of dusky fawn and dusty beige metallic residue, in addition to the lovely pollen, ash, and other pollutants that the Houston smog has to offer. Granted, when Houston does receive it’s weekly 4 to 5 dibble dops of rain, or I accidentally park my car next to a hidden sprinkler, the drops make the dusky fawn look like it’s been shot in about four places, but better that than washing the car only to have the satisfaction of seeing it dustless/clean for approximately 5 hours.
The salvage guy came and towed away Jene’s car, Sheila (you’ll have to ask her), on Friday. Sheila was declared officially “totaled,” and Jene’ will receive compensation for Sheila tomorrow, which she will deposit into a car fund (after she buys a bus pass). Fortunately, Houston has an adequate public tansportation system and she works about a mile from home. Church is a quick bus ride down Westheimer. Wal-Mart, more than one grocery store, and Sam’s are all within a reasonable walking distance for Jene’. I also still have transportation (that without a/c resembles more of a sauna with wheels and a radio of which the volume cannot be adjusted…). Jene’ is not one to whine or mope, so she waved goodbye to Sheila and now my dusky fawn car takes up our two spaces so Sheila’s spot doesn’t look so empty.
I will fast forward in this story (after Sheila’s departure) or rewind (it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?) to Saturday night in San Angelo, where Jene’s nephew, Josh, graduated from high school. I had wondered how the entire family was going to be able to attend, let alone sit together, but I was assured that since the ceremony was outdoors that would be possible. OUTDOORS?! Affirmative. Outdoors… at 8 p.m. in West Texas, where, though it was still in the 80’s, the humidity is low enough that the air wasn’t that bothersome. Over 700 calm and surprisingly well-behaved seniors sat on the far side of the field… a sea of blue that grew exponentially larger as the time approached 8 p.m.
My own graduation (in 1987) featured over 460 people in rented dorky silver and maroon gowns and it took almost four hours. Girls wore the caps on the back of their heads, perpendicular to the floor, to make room for their big tidal wave bangs. JoEllen sang as the graduation band played Night Ranger’s Goodbye. Several other songs were sung and more than one speech was made. Graduates received a Bible of their choice and when the prayer was uttered, it was definitely to the one true God and nobody had a problem with that.
At one point early on in the ceremony, a prayer was uttered that began with a vague “Holy One,” and continued with a list of vague spiritual references and a general sense of, well, vagueness that led me and several people in my general vacinity to whisper, “Does anybody know who she’s praying to?” I shook my head. The trouble with vagueness in this case is that though the prayer is uttered upward with good, inclusive and tolerant intentions, the prayer falls quickly to the ground, and the thud that follows sounds like the door to heaven slamming shut in disgust. I think God was pretty clear when He told Moses to pass it on to the rest of us, “You shall have no other gods before me.” I’m not going to preach on this, but this instance was a reality check. I now live in a world where God isn’t at the top of the list anymore… though He’s still on the list, He’s getting shuffled down the list in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness, and good intentions. I suppose this move allows the Christians then to also pray, but one wonders which is better — an all-inclusive, vague prayer, or none at all? Of course, if a Christian complains, she’s hateful and intolerant and her house gets egged. If a Buddist complains, his brother gets to lead his own prayer/meditation the next year when he graduates. Ok…I’m going to get off my soapbox now. Just chew on it.
As I was saying, we were sitting in the bleachers high above the football field on a warm, dry night. I was sitting in between Jean (Jene’s mother) and Julia (Jene’s sister, who is my age). Julia’s husband, Jeff, recently returned from duty in the Persian Gulf, sat on the end of the row with Grant, their 3 month old son. I could list all the other members of the McClellan/Speciale clan that had gathered to watch Josh graduate, but I need to keep this a small blog if I can (ha ha). Just trust me, Josh was well represented in the stands.
At my graduation, families were asked not to scream, applaud or anything else until everyone’s name had been called. My graduation was in a gymnasium and the screaming would have meant extra pauses between 460 plus names and graduation would have taken 5 hours… in an open football stadium… well, those noisy airhorns and cowbells were ringing and blasting all over the place, including in poor little Grant’s ears (while I was holding him). He did not take too kindly to the blasts. I did not take kindly to the blasts on his behalf, but as we’ve established in previous blogs, I’m learning that it’s not about me, so I passed Grant down to Jene’ who was further down from the inconsiderate blast-er and I let the blast-er live until his graduation.
This graduation lasted under two hours. I was amazed. Several faculty members teamed up to recite over 700 names. Some kids danced as they crossed the stage, one kid did a flip, and two sign language interpreters signed each and every one of those names… and it was over in under two hours. We even got out of the parking lot with relative ease and were home in minutes. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t in Houston and we didn’t have to wait fifteen minutes to get to the street and then another half hour to clear traffic and then home — all to go five miles. No, we were far away from Houston and I rather enjoyed the pace, thank you very much.
The next day, Jene’ and I got back into the Toyota Camry to drive home, and we arrived after 10 p.m. Somewhere in the weekend, Jene’ found a Big Lots and more dishes, all the while escorted by her PARKING ANGELS. Apparently, when Sheila left, the parking angels did not. I still don’t have parking angels unless Jene’ is in the car…
…but I digress… and now it’s time for some sleep…