Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Graduation And Bad Hair Day (3rd in a series)

Graduation day had finally arrived, and boy was I excited to finally see my daughter.  I had missed my little buggeress something fierce while she was away at bootcamp.  I found myself not being able to touch any of her stuff she left behind in the house for awhile, like with not touching it I could pretend she was still here somehow, just out and about enjoying her day.  A game I play with myself for sure, but I don't like that "missing" feeling, and will go easy on myself in whatever way I can to adapt.  I've had enough experience with the feeling to be confident that it will eventually pass when I give myself time to let it. 

I hopped out of my hotel bed and hit the shower with a smile, which soon left me after I realized I forgot my hair products aimed to keep my hair under control, especially in a wet climate.  I've got naturally curly hair, and not having some kind of product to control the curl leads to some seriously wild frizz.  Picture a witch just landing from a crazy ride on her broom and you've got a pretty good idea of what my hair looks like with no control.  I didn't have time to go buy any mousse or anything, so had to accept the idea that I was going to show up for my daughter's graduation looking like something the wind just blew in from the woods, most especially out of place in such an orderly, pristine environment as the military. I hoped my daughter missed and loved me enough she wouldn't mind her mother showing up looking like a wild woman.  You never know with young peoples what will embarrass them.  Although sometimes I've found it fun to give her a little poke in public, this was not one of those times.

When I was as ready as I was gonna be, still fretting over the frizz, I finally met up with my son-in-law, Jody.  He reassured me my daughter wouldn't mind my hair, which kinda validated that it was as scary as I was thinking.  So I bucked up, and did my best to live with it.

I found out later there were almost 1000 graduates in this ceremony, which is held almost weekly, just not usually as big as this one.  We got through the gate, parked, and headed in.  The excitement in the air was palpable.  Jody wore his western finery again, and just as we entered the door to the auditorium he was singled out by a guard, and asked to step aside so he could be searched.  He was taken into a room off to the side where a female officer asked him to dress down to basics, just like they do with airport security.  Apparently, the Navy doesn't mind bad hair days as much as they do cowboy bling.  I couldn't help it, I laughed...poor guy.  He couldn't seem to get away from security checks.  Once again, he vowed to dress differently on our flight home so he wouldn't have to go through all this again.

 My daughter warned us ahead of time she would not be marching in the ceremony.  Her Division was in charge of standing guard during the ceremony, and she told us she'd be guarding the top rail, and we could sit right across from where she stood.  ( The picture above shows where the top seating is, and sailors guarding each post along the rail ).  It just so happened she met us downstairs in the center of the auditorium. 

Looking at the picture to the left brings tears to my eyes all over again.  I missed her so much, and to see her standing there, that big smile on her beautiful face undid me.  She motioned us to follow her to the stairwell, and I had enough of my mind left to get my camera ready so I could snap this picture when she turned to face her husband and they both fell into each others arms.  Seriously, I'm sitting here crying, lol.  It's all so fresh! 

She finally motioned us upstairs so she could get back to her guard duty, where she had to make sure no one got close to the rail, and we literally sat right across from her.  How great is that?!  It was great!  Her beautiful eyes were animated as she told us about one adventure after another, and listened to us share news from back home.  We drank in each others presence, not quite believing we were actually with each other again. 

Finally, the ceremony began.  (I took the picture above from where we sat before the ceremony.)  The only other military ceremony I've witnessed is my own when I graduated bootcamp from the Army many years ago.  The Navy put on quite a show.  It truly was a magnificent event, and I felt proud for all those young sailors there who were graduating.  The picture to the left is of a group of drumming sailors who came out to perform right before all the graduating classes marched in.  Its not a very clear, or good picture, but I've always loved the sound of drums in marching bands in parades, football games, etc.  These guys ROCKED!  Even Jody, decked out in his cowboy gear, couldn't keep himself from moving to the beat! 

I honestly don't know how long the ceremony lasted because I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, watching my daughter's expressive face being the best part.  When it was over, my daughter told us she had to go grab her "outer gear", and told us where to go outside to meet her.  When we met up again she once again fell into her husband's arms, and then fell into mine.  She told us she had to head back to the barracks for "muster," and to grab some things before liberty was given, then we'd have 7 hours with her off base before she had to report back, and prepare for departure to her next base, (schooling).  Her barracks just happened to be down from where we parked the car, but before we began walking that way I asked Jody to take a picture of me and my daughter where we stood.  ( I don't have a good editor to blur my daughter's face in the photo, so the paint program hack job is what you get to protect my daughter's privacy :).  As you can see, I wasn't joking about my hair!

I was getting ready to take a picture of my daughter and her husband when a female guard came over and told me I couldn't and to please move along.  Me and my daughter took a look around, saw all the other people milling about taking pictures, and then shrugged at each other and moved on down the walk toward the parking garage and her barracks.  Personally, I think the guard just didn't like the look of my hair.

My daughter told us we couldn't go with her to the barracks, so we waited for her in the parking garage.  She brought back gifts for us;  pictures, a T-shirt for Jody, and hoodie for me with her Division's logo painted on it.  Fun!  We all hopped in the car while my daughter told us she had some things to do before going back to the hotel room.  First on her list was to stop at the store for candy.  She was in sugar withdrawal in a bad way, she said, not having had any candy for 2 months.  She bought her candy of choice, Laffy Taffy, and she bought some Starburst Jelly Beans, knowing I love jelly beans.  I'd never had Starburst's version of them, and let me tell you, if you like jelly beans, and haven't tried!

My baby was back with us, and being in her shining orbit once again was a soothing balm to my spirit.  I couldn't take my eyes off her as we rode in the car en route to do her bidding.  Seven hours just didn't seem enough, so I slowed down time, and spent the next 7 hours with her right there in every moment.

(Next post:  Day With My Girl)


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