Well, it was a weekend full of much celebration. It was anticipated greatly. And it was quite memorable in many ways. Allow me to share with you some highlights.
Friday was unremarkable except for the fact that it was a day off. (Since I work on Sundays, it acts as my Saturday. Since I am done with school, I actually took both Friday and Saturday off and did not go to the office at all. Wild.) Well, and I got to go to Taco Bell with my little sister back from college. When I got there, we realized we had both worn our Brooklyn t-shirts. I'm super glad she's home from school. She's amazing. I also read a bunch of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was a quick read (and interesting, though rather "off" in some of its statements about Christianity and faith. I know. Shocking...).
The long-awaited seminary graduation! Serious, I remember being neck-deep in work wondering if this day would ever come. Making it better was being able to graduate with Chris & Melissa - my best friends - while we took only 1 class all together, we spent the 3 years all working on our Masters together. Of course, Melissa quite out-did Chris and I with her MDiv, but that's as it should be. Hopefully we will be able to make the transition from nerds to party people without too much trouble. Who am I kidding? I'm sure we're pretty much relegated to nerdiness...but at least it's together!
I had always pictured the day of graduation to be the day the sky would become clear, the sun would fully shine, and the birds would sing. Unfortunately, central illinois did not get the memo. It was cold and overcast. During the class picture before the ceremony, my hat blew off in the wind and I am sure I looked ridiculous. Chris & Melissa hit a bird on the interstate on their way there and found that it was still in the grill of their car when they got there. So, there you go.
The ceremony itself was nice. There was some interesting singing (of songs very few people knew). I did not trip while walking up & down the stairs, shaking the Presidents hand, getting my hood, or getting my towel (a tradition that reminds seminary grads to serve above all). Mission accomplished.
We took lots of pictures. I hope to have a few to add to this post later. During the 3rd or 4th round of pictures, Spear (who did not graduate, but did have to have his picture taken) says to me between his teeth, "Say paparazzi!"
We went to Jimmy John's for lunch since my parents had to head back home quickly for my little sister's orchestra concert. I declared eating at Jimmy John's a Bethany graduation tradition (since that's where we ate after my undergrad ceremony). If I ever graduate from anything else in the future (which is NOT in the plan), there will be Jimmy John's.
After church and some serious deliberation, I decided to make the trek to Chambana with the fam to see my little brother graduate from the U of I with his engineering degree. Before the ceremony began, we (sisters and the significant others of myself and my brother) took random pictures to make sure the digital cameras worked, discussed how the graduates should enter the Assembly Hall (Mary's was the best - running in to "The Champ is Here"), and made guesses on how long the ceremony would last. We girls all made guesses in the 1.5 - 1.75 range. Spear guessed 2 hours and 5 minutes. When it took 20 minutes for the 800 engineering students to process in, we knew the girls would not win.
The ceremony. Snooze. Engineers think they are awesome. Snooze. Lots of obnoxious families yelling. Snooze. Singing the Alma Mater. The final time of the ceremony was 2 hours and 3 minutes. And then taking lots of pictures! ("Say paparazzi!") In all seriousness, I was VERY proud of my little brother (who became the 3rd generation of UIUC Civil Engineering grads in the family). And he's an awesome guy. I couldn't ask for a better little brother. Something about graduations makes me all nostalgic.
We decided to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner because it's pretty quick. There were 8 of us and it's graduation weekend in C-U, so when they asked if we minded the smoking section we said we'd take it. Well, we ended up in a back room at a booth with a table pushed up next to it. This left only a small opening between us and the people at the booth across from us. We ordered our drinks and queso ("What is this white stuff I'm consuming, cause it's so consuming meeeee....") and began chatting. One highlight was a conversation between my brother and I about Facebook. It's difficult to re-create since it was brief. However, the basic idea was that he had a friend tease him that she was Facebook "friends" with both of his sisters but that he wasn't "friends" with me. I told him I only joined to try to find people I went to school with, but I never asked people to be my "friend." His response was classic: "Well I don't ask people either, so I guess we won't be friends." Before we ordered our meals, our pleasant dining environment changed...
The restaurant had decided to add to the festiveness of campus town by having a mariachi band to play. They played a song or two in the main room of the restaurant; they were very good. Then they decided to come play a song for our room; they were very loud. This was no quartet - there were 4 violinists, 2 or 3 guitar players, and 2 trumpets. Apparently the group knew some people in our small room, because the people at the booth next to us asked for some requests and sang along. The band stayed in our small room for pretty much the whole meal. It was surreal and hilarious at the same time. We'd randomly crack up throughout dinner. I hope to have some pictures of this as well...
While it was a busy weekend, it was one that celebrated some significant milestones. More than that though, it reminded me what AMAZING friends and family I have been blessed with...