This has been a long time coming…Well, I suppose not that long, really. But considering how big I consider the news and how long it has taken me to “report” it, it has been a long time coming.
This has been a pretty big week for me. On Thursday there was a ceremony at the community college in which two of my coworkers in the writing center, as well as a former roommate of mine, all won awards–myself included. I really didn’t know too much as to what to expect, only that I was to be issued an award and that my unofficial, and perhaps somewhat unknowing, mentor was to be presenting me.
I ran into him straight away, though it was a saddening moment. I learned that this would be his last quarter with us at Whatcom Community College, that he would be going back to LA and back to school into a PhD program. However, when he explained himself, I realized that there was no way I could be sad about this. He was going to have the opportunity to study under all the modern philosophers he showed us in class. This was an amazing opportunity for him.
As the awards were given in alphabetical order, I suddenly became nervous, knowing that while there were no words I would need to speak, I would have to stand there, in front of the people filling the Heiner theater, and look pleased, but not too pleased, modest, and know not to fidget. What on earth was I going to do with myself while I was up there?
My mentor was announced to the stage, and called me forth. I made my way there, trying so hard no to laugh. The whole thing was quite ridiculous. Had they really no one better to award than myself? My name was called, and I made my way to the stage, unaware of the idea of tripping up the steps, more concerned with having to stand there for hourly minutes while words were said about me. The lights were bright, I couldn’t see passed the first row of seats, so I focused there, then realized how intense I must be, staring at my coworkers and friends. I saw a flash of a camera, and knew that must be my family, and thus averted my eyes to their direction. I realized the words being said, and experienced an overwhelming mixture of wanting to laugh and wanting to cry. This was a jibe, a jest, a joke, it had to be.
But then I turned, and the medal was placed over my head. All I could think to do or say was, “Thank you, Nathan,” to my mentor. We pivoted and together left the stage. It was over, it was done.
I had a medal of Academic Excellence in the English Discipline. Somehow, I had earned that.