This academic year at my college will be over after Commencement on Saturday, May 3rd. I'll put on my Zorro outfit and the rest of my regalia, line up with my colleagues, and march over to the venue for the ceremony. Once there, and outside, we professors split into two lines and applaud the graduates-to-be as they march into the building. Although some of them should be whipped with birch branches as they pass by, almost all have worked hard to get where they are. I'm not a sentimental person (I'm a guy from Iowa, after all), but it is cool to see some of my students that I enjoyed in several classes over the years stroll by, sheepish grins on their faces, heads held high, enjoying the salutations and applause of the faculty. To me, that is the high point, other than mingling with my graduates and meeting their parents after the ordeal is over.
In between those highlights, I suffer through speeches read by guest speakers and think of Mark Twain's observation about one book as "formaldehyde in print." Then a seemingly-endless line of students march forward to receive their degrees, matched up with verbal outbursts of misplaced pride from their loud, rude, and ignorant guests who act as if they have no sense of decorum. Which they don't.
When it's all over, I saunter back to my office, remove my regalia, lock up, and head home, another year in the books, a summer of writing and a little bit of travel awaiting me.
And you know what? I am honestly looking forward already to next Fall Semester. Call me a dreamer. I don't mind.