Last week I got be the commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2017 at the school where I teach.
Even though the audience was smaller than the adoption agency groups I usually present to, I got about ten thousand times more nervous this time. The people in the audience here know me. Afterwards, some in the audience will still see me, even after the mic drop.
Another reason for my high anxiety was that I’d taken on a new class this school year: Public Speaking. I’d just taught my students everything I know about the subject, and they would be primed to figure out where I was succeeding (eye contact! confidence! preparation!) and where I was falling short (ummmmms, y’knows, boring).
Facts Are Now in Your Hand Even if Not Your Head
Public Speaking & Debate was requested by my social studies students a year ago as an extension of discussions we hold at the end of each year’s History classes in a current events unit. The teens enjoy delving, dialoging, debating. They wanted an entire course on it.
So this year I created a class for them. Only it turned into so much more than just about giving speeches and debating.
Which is not news. I tend to have a glass of wine each evening. It’s as much a treasured daily ritual as my morning cup of coffee is.
The news is who I drank wine with (or maybe the shorter list would be who I didn’t drink wine with). In October, I got to drink wine with far-flung friends in Seattle, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, and right here at home.
I was a girl who struggled with friendships back when I was my daughter’s age. I was shy, bookish, and I played in the band (not a cool kind of band but a 5th grade concert band — think Target commercial cacophony). I liked getting grounded on the rare occasions I misbehaved because it meant that instead of playing outside with other kids, I could be inside reading the “L” edition of the World Book encyclopedia (it was a relatively skinny one, unlike the massive “M”).
But you know that line from The Sound of Music, in which Maria and the Captain sing to each other in the gazebo? They mention their wicked, miserable pasts but conclude that
Somewhere in my youth or childhood | I must have done something good.
Somehow in the intervening years I have become rich in friends. I mean really, really great people kinda friends. Folks who are good-hearted, smart as whips, and generous in so many ways.
Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there. — Judith Viorst