Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DIPLOMA

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

February's prompts are chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.


The pictures from my high school graduation show a shining girl in a red gown and yellow cords. Every shot looks staged, though none of them were – one of my parent's friends from church took the photos. I never even saw the photographer-friend in the stadium full of people there to celebrate this class of approximately 400 students.

The girl who is me is blonde and smiling. She's the star of her own movie, and this is a climactic moment – or an effort at characterization: see the happy all-American girl with the world opening its doors to her!

The pictures are true and not true: I was smiling, but not because I loved the people around me or that particular night or because I felt any huge sense of accomplishment. I was a good student and had always done well – my graduation had never been in question, only what honors I would receive and how many college scholarships would line my pockets. I'd attended school with these kids since 9th grade, yet I walked beside a girl I barely knew. I spoke to only a handful of my fellow graduates at the ceremony, and as soon as it was over I escaped with my sister and best friend to get away from all the hoopla. I just wanted it to be done, so I could get on with my real life.

The girl who is me doesn't need a diploma to prove her worth. It will take a million other things for that.

Fun fact: Favorite diploma I ever received: a Mouster's Degree from Disney College Program. :)

Fun fact #2: My poem "I Give Thanks for Trussville, Alabama," appears in THE POETRY OF US, edited by J. Patrick Lewis. It taps into some of my feelings about the place where I attended high school.

1 comment:

  1. Pictures bring out memories and what really "was", and because of your project, words do, too. I love the picture, and the those million other things that are coming, Irene.


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