My graduating senior student graduated on Friday. Graduations here are like nowhere else. The mayor spoke and then he sang and then it rained and then the students sang in the rain, and then they graduated in the rain. There is no 'moving it indoors'. Rain is good luck at graduations, birthdays and weddings and everyone just goes on settin' and a rockin' and a singin' in the rain.
And then the students receive leis. So many leis--orchid leis, plumeria leis, candy leis, li hing mui leis, pikake leis, maile leis, ti leaf leis, sweet white ginger leis, stephanotis leis. His wonderful family brought a huge bag of thickly petalled, perfect leis. The leis often pile up to cover the graduate's face and they stumble about like huge flower monsters hugging each other, signing yearbooks and saying goodbye. Hawaiian graduation photos are unmistakable.
My student is a musician a writer a reader and a poet and so I gave him the complete Allen Ginsberg to take to college. He will pack his battered Auden and worn in Neruda. He did it. He fell in love with reading and writing and it will follow him all his life. It is amazing to watch it take hold. To see language and experience weave together to cast their spell. It is a particular magic. It will never let him go. He is done for.
He reads with a careful, examining, passionate ferocity. He asked for a summer reading list. I did not pull my punches. He is already nearly through his first Graham Greene, is at--The End of the Affair and heading towards Brighton Rock. Greene's loose, stony, precise, spare language will join the other tempos in his inner lexicon of voices. His wonderful, wonderful older brother is considering reading the list with him. Middlemarch looms large, sprawling out on the horizon and they will tackle it together. It will win them in the end.
It is a marvelous thing. To watch the interest turn to excitement turn to confidence turn to habit turn to a quiet, calm expanding. There is no going back. I am so happy for him. It is a marvelous thing.