I have a confession to make: I remember very little about the June night that I walked across the stage in The Brickyard and received my diploma from Thomson High School.
The whole evening has become little more than a 13-year-old highlight reel in my mind.
It starts after I've already walked off stage, with my diploma in hand. I remember smiling and winking at several classmates as I made my way back to my seat. The next memory is standing outside the stadium, hugging Elliott Fulmer and hearing him talk about how high school was over and the rest of our lives were coming fast.
That's it. Nothing from before the ceremony. Very little from the actual ceremony. Then, a hug to end things.
Funny. I always thought it would be more memorable.
For some of the 2004 class of Thomson High School, I'm sure it will be. The class -- the largest ever at THS -- sweated through Saturday night's ceremony and gathered in the end zone afterward to celebrate with friends and family. They screamed, danced, laughed and cried to mark the end of their high school careers.
And somewhere on the field, Ed Grisham looked on like a proud papa. The chief Bulldog is stepping down at the end of June -- as is THS principal Bill Reese. But for Dr. Grisham, the Class of 2004 held a special significance: They were just kindergarteners when he became the McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools 13 years ago and he's watched them struggle, succeed and surpass.
As a side note, I saw in the news where Jenna Bush actually skipped her college graduation. I don't really blame her. As few details as I remember about my high school graduation, my college graduation is still painfully fresh in my mind.
Why? Blame it on politics.
Our coveted speaker was an elected official -- who, to protect the brutally boring, will remain anonymous. He spent 30 minutes telling the gathered graduates how the economy was terrible, the job market was even worse and the world was probably going to come to a horrific end before the end of the graduation ceremony. But, hey, we should take heart because we were college graduates now, he said. If I could have figured out a way to impale myself on my cap I would have.
And finally, a colleague of mine who will remain nameless, annually laments on the editorial page of The Columbia County News-Times about not getting an invitation to speak to graduates about their future.
Now, I'm not about to go down that whining road, I will offer my advice to the Class of 2004. It's simple and clichÈd: Find something you love and do it well. Everything else will fall into place.
I learned a long time ago -- in my failed attempt at college chemistry, I think -- that enjoying your journey down life's path is the crux of happiness. It is not the destination, it is the trip.
Now, go get on the road to your future.