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Valediction

June 13, 2015

Yesterday, AJ put on a red cap and gown and graduated from middle school.
Yesterday I conquered my nerves and took my very first guitar lesson.
Yesterday it was hot enough to fry an egg on the street – I have seen photographic evidence.

The graduates were soaked through by the time they got into the church.
My guitar was out of tune by the time I sat down to play.
The heat bends everything out of shape.

They looked so tall, in their red robes, with their faces, some smiling, some solemn, in concentration.
I frowned at my recalcitrant fingers, always one step behind my brain.
The breeze of the fan cleared the air.

AJ accepted his awards as we stifled cheers when his name was called out.
I tried not to smile with relief when I heard I’m holding my hands the right way.
Tut, tut, looks like rain.

A fourteen-year-old boy gave an impassioned speech about his education and the earthquake in Nepal, the country from which he emigrated just five years ago.
I reshaped my fingers, learning to roll them and flatten them to make the sounds I’ve been dying to hear.
The sun melted soft spots into the sidewalk.

The children stood and turned their tassels as the crowd erupted.
My fingers mapped the fretboard, and suddenly they knew what the chord inversions let like, the shape of them, the way they make you feel.
The sun was relentlessly sunny.

The children sang and AJ played a guitar solo and we were all surprised and moved.
I learned a new way to play the B section of Blackbird and it changes everything.
We forgot about the heat, just for a moment, despite the sweat pouring down our brows.

A 14-year old girl quoted Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
My fingers finally landed F# major, while I sang under my breath, “These are the words we use to say goodbye.”
Nighttime, still steamy, church windows open, a horn, a laugh, and the sound of bells – we strolled home humming in our heads.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. eleanorio permalink
    June 13, 2015 9:36 pm

    Congrats to the graduate and the student just beginning. Well done, both of you!

  2. June 14, 2015 10:52 am

    Lovely, the ending and the beginning and the regenerative heat!

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