Sunday, May 1, 2016

brand new adults: graduation 2016 or the four year hug

 This week we said our farewells to another great group of artists and sent them out into the world.  This group really bonded together as a family during their 4 years as Lander Visual Art majors.  And with their big personalities and truckloads of talent, they also bonded together with their professors during that time.  The photo above is from the Senior Exhibit reception the night before graduation.  That's Lee, Tara, Laura, Erica, James, Megan, Caitlin, Oscar, Krysten and Braden looking proud.

 The next morning they all walked across the stage and became official adults.  After the ceremony, we always gather to take photos and offer our official goodbyes.

 My beard protected me from feeling emotions.  I sent Metal Megan off with a smile.  Not having a heart comes in pretty handy in moments like this.  It also helps that she'll be working in Greenwood so she not really leaving us completely yet.

 I think Rashaad was feeling all the feelings though.  He didn't say so, but he's the only member of his "Firesquad Family" who has one more semester with us.  His goodbyes were probably even harder than ours.  But 'Shaad always plays it cool as you can see from this pic I got.

jon wasn't able to be at graduation this time, but here's the rest of the Dream Team.

 That's Oscar.  We like Oscar.  I like Oscar.  Heck, I like all these goons more than I'll let them know, but this was a very special day for Oscar and for me.  

I have space issues.  I don't like people touching me or getting in my space.  But if I'm the South Pole, Oscar is the North Pole.  He's a hugger.  A chronic hugger.

Four years ago as a freshman, Oscar tried to hug me.  (About 400 times.)  Each time he tried, I repeated my rule to him.  "I'll hug you at graduation".  That's the rule.  Sure, there may be the very rare exception to that leaving the country for a year or winning a super great award, but that's the rule.  I'll hug you at your graduation.  Not a moment before.  

Of course, there are plenty of students who don't care and they'll slip by with a smile and a wave and we can both feel good about that.  But there are others who come to feel that with their four years of blood, sweat, tears and lack of sleep, they have earned not only a diploma, but also a hug from the non-hugger.  

Oscar has literally chased me around campus trying to hug-attack me.  I've had to threaten to fail him multiple times.  I may have been forced to wave a hammer at him (joking).  But he didn't get a hug.  Not before graduation.  That's the rule.  

The Oscar hug has been building steadily over time.  This semester you could see the hug wave building higher and stronger with each passing month.  Oscar and I both started working out to get ready.  I've been doing arms and abs for months to prepare.  Friday night at the Senior Exhibit we gave each other a knowing look before we left.  Oscar whispered under his breath, "Soon McAbee, soon."

Saturday after graduation we all met near the art building.  I dropped my hat and program on the ground and started stretching.  Oscar gave his phone and camera to designated photographers.  Family, friends and professors gathered with their recording devices to capture the moment.  When everything was perfect, it happened...

 That was a hug four years in the making.

Thanks to Singletary for capturing the still pictures and sharing those with me.  This was an epic moment.  Oscar really did earn his hug.  

And yeah, everyone got a hug.  Congrats to them all.  

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