Sunday, June 09, 2024

Our Time Warp and Wormhole Graduation Season

High school grads playing kickball on their childhood school field.

time warp: [noun] an anomaly, discontinuity, or suspension held to occur in the progress of time.

wormhole: [noun] A theoretical tunnel between two distant points in our universe that cuts the travel time from one point to another. See space-time continuum.

Both our daughters have graduated high school, and we now have a strange spring graduation season. We've been invited to the graduation parties of neighbors, friends, the younger siblings of friends of our children, and all of this seems like a distant memory. Not only a distant memory, but also a far-away memory.

We no longer live in the neighborhood where these parties are being held. Driving down those streets brings back all the wonderful memories of playing in the park with our then-toddlers, visiting with neighbors between yards, walking to restaurants with the family for a meal. And as much as I've stayed connected to friends and neighbors in Minneapolis, I don't return to the area too often, and it feels like a completely different world altogether. 

The graduation parties are mostly for kids graduating from Southwest High School, the school my children would have gone to had there not been mental health issues, neurodivergency, and a pandemic involved. My children stopped being these kids' classmates after 8th grade. Looking through each graduate's photo displays was a strange experience. I recognized the graduate, I recognized many of their classmates, but my children were never their classmates at this stage in life. My own kids are now 18 and 21, yet I still picture their classmates as the 1st and 2nd graders that I knew them as most. 

Paula, the parent of one of the graduates, and I.

How I remember her daughter (Sophia, far left, Lindsey and Marissa)

I recognized and re-connected with so many parents of kids, some of whom lived just a street or two away from us, but our kids were never friends. Most surreal was visiting with 3rd grade teacher for both our daughters. She is a lovely and kind person, and had such an incredible influence on both our girls. She has one more year of teaching ahead of her and then she is retiring. She said how wonderful it was to be invited to the graduation parties of the children she taught years before. If I thought I was living in a time warp, I'm sure she feels that a hundredfold. 

Miss O'Hara and I

The last grad party we went to was across the street from the lower grade school that our girls attended through 3rd grade. As the evening wore on, the new grads organized a game of kickball on the school field, the girls were in their party dresses, the boys in their good pants or dress shorts. And as I watched them play, I imagined them as little 5-year-old kindergarteners on that same field, learning the rules of of the game they so easily played now.

Maybe it's because I moved around a lot as a child, but the idea of playing on my elementary schoolyard field as an adult is an utterly foreign concept. 

That evening, driving the 40 minutes to our new home in the country, I reflected on the changes in our lives. Our children are now out of high school, one nearly done with college. We live in a completely different area, surrounded by trees and open sky. Back through the wormhole to our new little corner of the world. 

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