Opinion

A door closes after graduation, a window opens | Latte Guy | May 13

For Mother’s Day, I took Wendy to the Spokane Arena, located in of all places, Spokane, Washington.

The Spokane Arena is home to the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs, as well as the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League. But neither the Shock nor the Chiefs were playing in the Arena on Mother’s Day.

What was playing in the Arena this past Sunday was the Angus Scott Pipe Band. What they were playing was the drum and bagpipe version of “Pomp and Circumstance” as they ushered into the Arena the 2011 graduating class of Gonzaga University, among whose number was our son Adam, who received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

I don’t know if you’ve been to a college graduation ceremony lately, but I can tell you that it is all but impossible to be cynical or to harbor doubts about the future of the world when you’re watching 1,000 newly-minted and neatly be-robed college graduates proceed into an arena accompanied by bagpipes under the adoring eyes of thousands of parents, siblings and miscellaneous supporters, all of whom alternate between flashing big goofy grins and wiping away tears of pride and joy.

I was on the 5:20 ferry Saturday morning (a phrase I hope to never utter again) in order to get to Spokane in time for the Saturday afternoon Graduates Champagne Social followed, as near as I can recall, by the Baccalaureate Mass.

Later, we checked into our hotel, which was downtown near the intersection of Division and Spokane Falls Road, just across from The Olde Globe Bar and Grille and next to Fast Eddie’s All Purpose Pub (“Home of Warm Beer and Cold Women since 1965”).

After wringing the excess champagne and incense from our clothes, we rejoined Adam and his roommates at their house, which was evidently the site of a recent unreported cyclone, where we were treated to a little barbecue and entertainment.

For some, the entertainment consisted of deep conversation about the state of the world, reflections on man’s place in the universe, and the prospects for gainful employment in the very near future.

For others, the entertainment consisted of spirited rounds of Flip Cup Relay, Boat Race and Beer Pong.  I’ll let you speculate on who fell where on the graduation entertainment spectrum, but I will note that I was very impressed with my daughter Lauren’s natural gift for Flip Cup, a game she swears she’d never played before.

The graduation itself was held in the Arena on Sunday morning.  It was in all respects a wonderful event, marred only by the sudden sounding of a smuggled air horn by islander Tom Hillyer when his daughter Kerry’s name was announced.

I would have said something to Tom about proper decorum at a graduation ceremony, but at that moment I had my mouth full of nachos that Lauren had purchased to quench the appetite she and Wendy had worked up critiquing the female graduates’ shoe selection.

I would be hard pressed to tell you what the official graduation ceremony dress code was; it appeared to be something less than coat and tie but more than steampunk casual.

I’ll spare you any more of the gory details.  Suffice it to say that it was everything such an event should be.  We laughed a little, we cried a little, and we saw our boy get his degree.

Following the ceremony, we were generously invited back to the house of fellow BHS/Gonzaga Engineering graduate Lucas Pearl to enjoy a barbecue event which I believe was called “The Porkapallooza.”

It included all the barbecued meat you could possibly eat, plus a little more – a lovely toast to the graduates, and the largest sheet cake ever seen in Eastern Washington.

Afterwards, we headed west on I-90 toward home. The traffic was light and the light on the Columbia River was beautiful, but the drive home was bittersweet, knowing we were closing a chapter in our family’s life.

But as Kinky Freidman said, whenever God closes a door, he opens a little window. Coming home after Adam’s graduation, it was easy to focus on the road ahead of us, not worrying about what was around the next bend or over the next hill, but confident that we were on the right road and headed in the right direction.

Congratulations Adam, and congratulations to all graduates everywhere.

And if any of you need help with your Flip Cup skills, give Lauren a call.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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