It was Saturday, and tummy full of breakfast eaten with the family, we were killing time before the planned IKEA run.
“You have another thing in common with Pantani,” I was informed, “you both love karaoke.” Then, “...Oh my God.”
From Mike’s new iPad came the streaming sounds of an Italian song. He had found a gem of a Youtube video, from 1996, when Pantani, injured from a tangle with a car and told he might never walk - much less ride - again, sung the Giro theme.
We played it at least three times in a row while Pantani transported us to whole other world of awesome. And between the first and second time, I commented that that video made my weekend, that it was even better than my graduation.
Because on Friday, I officially became an Esquire. Or at least an almost-Esquire [I think I’m allowed to at least put the J.D. after my name]. I had rolled out of bed, put on mascara, squeezed into a dress, ran to a bus in heels, and wore a polyester gown for two hours in the heat to pick up an impressive[ly big] piece of paper. And to be honest, it was sort of anticlimactic. We lined up alphabetically, walked, listened to speeches, and, well, graduated. And like that weirdly surreal feeling of stagnancy I felt after I finished all my exams, I didn’t quite believe it had happened.
Instead, I’ve felt a lingering disappointment. Like Pavlov's dog, I’d waited too long for this day for it possibly measure up to my expectations of freedom, universal love, and world peace. After three years, I'd even managed to get tired of salivating.
Maybe it’s the impending bar exam and the fact that I have about 10 weeks to memorize 20+ subjects condensed into three consecutive 8 hour days of testing, and the knowledge that I’ll be missing most of this summer. The Tour, my bikes, even my sanity are preparing to hide away, replaced by sheer terror and parental expectations to pass what a friend endearingly called “the most important test of our lives.” I am fucking terrified.
But my panicked moments of nausea-inducing fits of bar-related anxiety aside, my graduation was less than exciting. Not that I expected it to be; I had grumbled that I didn’t even want to go, that if my family hadn’t insisted on flying in, I wouldn’t go. Memories of the past three years are, at least as they relate to law school, marked by mental breakdowns, therapy, and acne.
All of which led me to believe - in part because it was easier that way - that none of it really mattered. I had clung to that belief because otherwise it felt like I had failed at something significant enough to measure my worth. And crazy as I am, even I didn’t want to believe that. So in the middle of winter I had purchased a bicycle. I stayed in school, made some new friends who preferred to live on two wheels, and found a man who, when I told him that I wanted the past three years of my life back, told me he could give me back one. I was skeptical, but I think he just may have.
After the ceremony on Friday, still in my unflattering gown, I had squeezed past classmates scouring the audience for their families, past proud parents taking pictures, to touch Matt on the arm. In our silly caps, we gave each other big smiles, and hugged tight. Because I had found him, too.
And unlike grades, transcripts, and classes, that mattered. That was really, really worth it.