Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Golden Moment in the Sun

“We tell our kids it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but let’s be honest. Winning feels pretty great. There’s nothing like that golden moment in the sun."

- Jay Pritchett, Modern Family

Seasons 1-3 of Modern Family helped get me through the last semester of my MBA program. I have a digital converter instead of cable, so on many midnight-oil-burning nights when I got tired of fighting with the antenna, I popped in a Modern Family DVD.

In the episode quoted here, Jay was proud of Manny for winning first place in fencing. Meanwhile, Manny's success conjured up resentment for Mitchell from when he was a kid and he and his sister Claire had a chance at winning the ice skating regionals, but Claire dropped out.

The episode is about achievement  -- that "golden moment in the sun" -- that moment when you -- by the grace of God and your own blood, sweat, and tears -- came out on top. And everyone is there, smiling, clapping for you, praising you...

Proud of you.

That was the sheer and utter perfection of my graduation weekend. I rented the flyest crib I could find in the area -- a two-story Key West style party house with a boat dock and full-sized gameroom/sports bar/ultimate man cave,  complete with sound system, projector, pool table, air hockey, etc. "The Fight of the Century" - Mayweather vs Pacquiao - was in full effect for Saturday night. That was the infrastructure.

Then, as the lady of the hour, I needed to bring the razzle dazzle. After the ceremony, I did my costume change for the party. All white, summer chic. And for a splash of glamour -- a waist-length string of pearls. Oh, and big hair.

The mini-MTV crib was in place. The hostess with the mostess was together. But the most important element was the one I could not control or arrange.  It was the most meaningful aspect, the one that fills up my spirit whenever I think about it.

The people.

Early Saturday evening as the house began to buzz, but before things got too turned up, we gathered in the kitchen to say grace. My homegirl prayed over the food and over me. And then folks took turns making me cry. This continued off and on all weekend.

The people. They carpooled, trailed each other, and Google Mapped their way to my funky oasis in the boondocks -- "The Jefe House" -- with food, drinks, cards, gifts, and well wishes in tow. Some woke up early Saturday morning to attend the ceremony and hug me in my cap and gown and bless me with flowers and balloons. Some came through for the party, while others could only stay for a couple hours. One took the scenic route and made it in on Sunday.  A lovely few stayed the whole weekend. And still more, many of whom only knew me through somebody, rolled in for the fight…which was all good.

The thing is, there were times during the planning when I questioned whether my dream celebration was too much. People have graduated with higher degrees from more prestigious programs than I have. And as much as I struggled with working full time and going to school full time, many of my classmates did it with families. Did I really need to go all out? Was I being pretentious? Did I really deserve it?  

The questions eventually melted away, and I cannot find my own words to explain why. But in her poem, “Our Greatest Fear,” Marianne Williamson speaks my heart.

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not be?
You are a child of God…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

What made my weekend special was not that my achievement was particularly unique. It was special because the fullness and blessings I felt, and the love and positivity that were showered on me -- got all over everybody.

And on an even more personal level, it was my golden moment in the sun.