May 4, 2010

The Big House

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Friendships, Weather tagged , , , , at 7:01 am by Liliana

The Big House

The Big House

What an exciting weekend my family and I had!

It was graduation weekend and we started celebrating last Friday night. Jeff picked up Nena and Peter from the train station, and with the rest of the family and a number of friends, it was eleven of us for dinner. My sister had roasted a large turkey with mushroom gravy and rosemary potatoes on the side. We also had several kinds of salads, and then cherry pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Saturday morning, Nena, Nicole and I got up around six a.m. It was storming outside – thunder, lightning, and gallons of pouring rain – not the kind of morning to walk a couple of miles and sit in the stadium for hours. But that is what we did. We were going to our friend Anna’s graduation ceremony and also to see President Obama deliver the commencement address.

We arrived at the stadium with thousands of other people. We were wet, but the humidity was so high that no one was cold. Security was tight and people patiently waited in long lines. More than 80,000 people! The young graduates were giddy with excitement, the parents smiling, good clothes covered with ponchos and garbage bags. All kinds of nationalities and ethnicities –  Asian, African, European, Hispanic – but they all expressed the same feelings: pride, hope, exhilaration.

We sat for hours on the wet bleachers (it had mercifully stopped raining), huddled together ever more tightly as the stadium filled to capacity. Finally, two military helicopters arrived. The crowd cheered. The deans and the dignitaries walked out, the president among them.

What can I say? It seemed like a special and historic place to be on that overcast morning. The president talked about civility. He talked about listening to each other. He talked about going out of our comfort zone and trying to understand the perspectives of people we might disagree with. All those people, the entire stadium, listened in silence. Then the roar of cheers and applause rose like a glorious balloon of joy.

We walked home wet, tired, full of discussion and analysis. My daughter, Nena, is graduating from her college in a few weeks, and although she was impressed by the president’s words, she was hoping for more concrete advice. She is about to enter that nebulous sphere we call “the real world” and hasn’t quiet found her sea legs yet. Nicole, my niece, will start college in the fall. She is on a different adventure, but also trying to decide what is right for her, what is good for the world and how the two can merge together.  Both are looking for guidance from the adults around them.

That evening, we had a large gathering at our house, more than fifteen friends and family members. We celebrated my husband Jeff’s birthday with a barbecue that he himself officiated. It is his specialty, after all. He grilled chicken, ribs, hamburgers, sausages and fish. Something for every taste. We also had baked potatoes, salads, fresh sweet corn. For dessert, my sister-in-law, Peggy, brought a huge fruit salad. And my friend Jelena, made two exquisite desserts: a dense chocolate cake, and a fruit cake with blackberries. People couldn’t stop eating, and I went for seconds (and thirds.)

We all sat around my sister’s huge dining table (now situated in my dining room) and talked about the day’s events, the state of the world, the future of the young people in our lives. There was happiness in that room.