Moving On

We churn along in this endless cycle, waking up, zombie-ing through the days, eating, sleeping, repeating, repeating, repeating …

(Wait a second. I’ve been told — by my partner in pandemic, my compatriot in Covid circumvention, the disease-dodging doyenne of the Donovan-DiLonardo household ((my wife, Mary Jo)) — that my posts during this coronavirus lockdown have been a tad, shall I say, infected. A little maudlin. A bit depressing. I have morphed into Debbie Downer. Nobody wants to be around that.

(So let me point out: The sun is shining. The grass has greened up. The governor of the great state of Georgia — not to be confused with the great governor of the state of Georgia, which isn’t the same at all — has opened up businesses and eased stay-at-home orders. We are hoping, all of us, that we’re on the other side of this little shelter-in-place nightmare, though a lot of scientists and epidemiologists who actually study these things — unlike most politicians, politically motivated nutjobs and faux-intellectuals — are warning that we’re raising the gates to Georgia too early, and that this virus could come back and bite us in our tired-of-it asses as we cavort under the sun. We’ll see, I guess.)

In any event, something happened this weekend to force me, in a hammer-in-the-head kind of way, into rediscovering something that we seem to have forgotten. And it isn’t that PJs are not considered working clothes or that deodorant is required daily.

This weekend has reaffirmed, I think, a simple platitude: Life goes on.

Luke officially graduated from college this weekend. He now has a degree, if not yet an actual diploma, in computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Our son is a college graduate.

Holy schneikes, does life move on.

This graduation was, like these times, obscenely strange. Georgia Tech held an online ceremony on Friday. (For a tech school, it was surprisingly glitchy and disappointingly incomplete. I mean, I hate to complain — OK, I like to complain a little — but you can’t even scroll the graduates’ names across the screen? Sheesh.)

Better was Saturday, when we talked the boy into leaving his near-campus cave to come up to the house. We didn’t have the crowded party that we had planned. There was no champagne uncorked. He didn’t get to pose for a string of photos, arms draped around his buddies’ shoulders. No buffet. No caps thrown. No graduation gown.

(That ceremony at the top of this post ^? It’s from 2012.)

Still, our celebration was a low-key, bittersweet kind of great. We sat on the back deck — Luke, his mom, and I — at the prescribed social distancing of 6-feet or so, chowed on some takeaway from an Alpharetta barbecue joint, enjoyed some desserts baked that morning by the doyenne of desserts (she is a double doyenne), and chatted about Luke’s time at GT, being done, and what’s next.

Mary Jo unveiled a carefully choreographed slideshow featuring photos of Luke’s family and many of his friends congratulating him. It included check-ins from Italy, Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, the Bay Area, Cincinnati, and many other spots.

(With this, Mary Jo is going for the rare triple-doyenne:)

Luke’s girlfriend joined us a couple hours later, then the two of them left to spend some time with other friends — the ones he rooms with, the ones he’s already been infected by, if he’s been infected — at a house on Lake Lanier.

All in all, it was a grand celebration. Or, if not quite grand, we made the best of it. Considering.

As I’ve whined about for weeks now, the whole world has seemed stuck on this endless loop. It’s not Groundhog Day. It’s worse. It’s like Groundhog Day 2: Ned Ryerson’s Revenge. Not something you want to re-live, day after day after day.

But here, finally, in Luke’s cyber commencement, is a sign of movement. Of growth. Of life. In another two months, wherever we are, whatever it is we’re doing — which, for most of us, might be pretty close to the same thing that we’ve been doing for the past couple months — Luke will be relocating to Southern California for his first job as a college grad. How he gets there, what he’s going to take, where he’s going to live, what the job will entail, who he’ll meet … he doesn’t know much about any of that yet.

It is wide open, though, his future. In this world today, that’s almost hard to imagine.

Sure, he may be limited a little at the start, the way all of us are now.  Luke’s new bosses are talking about “onboarding” him virtually. He may have to wait a bit until he steps foot in his company’s 21st century headquarters. He may not be able, immediately, to slide into that famous Southern California lifestyle. But sooner or later, the guidelines and mandates and stay-at-home orders come off.

For many of us, when that happens — and it will, sooner or later — we hope to return to normalcy, or thereabouts. For Luke and the Class of 2020, it’s a new life, a new beginning.

I can remember, a breath-squeezingly short time ago, getting all geeked about Luke’s entrance into high school. And then there were the dizzying trips to all the colleges he considered, and the breathless wait to see if his first choice — it was always Tech — would admit him. First semester, football games, basketball games. New dorm rooms, new apartments. Weird roommates. Internships. Job fairs.

Now all that’s passed, in a flash slowed only by these last two months. And soon, the ceaseless churn of the spring of 2020 will be over, too. Luke’s future — ours, too — awaits on the other side of these isolating times.

Life does goes on. Grand, ain’t it?

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