Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Jim Comey's Convocation Speech

My grandparents called me today. I never call them. Even on Mother's Day, despite my dad commanding me to call, I didn't. And yet, despite my negligence, my irresponsibility, somehow they always know when to call, and what to say. JoJo gets on the phone, and just hearing the sound of her voice, the timbre and the twang, just hearing that awakens in me a yearning for home, for backporch swinging and singing, for puddin' pops and reading books together. Then Bobby gets on the line, jokes with me for a few minutes, and delivers his perfectly timed, perfectly pitched wisdom: "You've been in a very unique place, Dana Beth. Very unique." "I know," I say, "and it will be sad to leave it." "Oh, but there will be other places. This is just one milestone you've come upon, and soon you'll come upon others."

Bobby is always full of wisdom. Wisdom and worry. "Where's Leah," he constantly asked about my sister, the youngest grandchild, whenever we found ourselves in a crowded situation (even though he really should have been worried about JoJo, who has a tendency to wander off much more accute than that of any of her grandchildren). "Dana Beth, where is your stocking cap?! It's cold out there!" "Now, you know you shouldn't be driving any more than five miles over the speed limit, that's when the police start coming after you!"

But his wisdom this time is poignant. And it hits me, suddenly, the transience of life. I know I don't have much longer in this unique place. Soon I will leave Jim Comey's island for the real world. Hopefully, I'll find another equally unique place, perhaps another island, but more likely, a new frontier, a slap in the face reality. Place is constantly changing. And people are constantly changing, shifting in and out, rotating through each others' lives. Sometimes I feel like I am placed gingerly upon an axis, like the earth, spinning around and around, through realms of school and home, school and home, summers away somewhere, school and home. Through realms of family, friends, new people, more family, more friends, more new people...on and on.

And Bobby's comment this morning made me realize, that those people won't always be there for me to casually rotate by on my way to something else. How much longer will I have grandparents to remember me even when I'm too busy to give them a quick call? How much longer will I have a family who keeps my room ready for me, even takes the laundry out of it when I'm coming home for the weekend, breezing through on my way to somewhere more exciting? And how much longer will I have friends who understand this transience, who are rotating each on their own axis, but whose cycles seem to be remarkably in tune with mine? Can we survive once the rotations reverse, change, and cause our lives to crash, clang and bang into or worse, away from, each other?

I think we have to survive. Isn't it that very rotation of the earth that insures the continuance of life? Night turns into day, and winter into spring because we rotate. Maybe that transience nourishes us in the same way. Family turn into friends, and friends turn into family because we rotate. And because we need them to. And soon, maybe the distinctions become blurred, and the people are just all people you love. And rotating through them isn't so tough anymore, because you love them all, and they all love you. But that still doesn't mean you can revel in your negligence and your irresponsibility. It's still not okay to forget to call.

I'll call you. And you call me. Even when we're out of orbit.

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