By Mike Dunn 

Waiting for the right moment


This weekend reminded me how true the saying “Good things come to those who wait” is.

On Saturday, I was in Laramie at Kayla’s (my girlfriend) graduation from the University of Wyoming. She was graduating with a degree in Elementary Education, and now has a job at Rawlins Elementary School.

For anyone who has ever been to a college graduation knows that it’s not as simple as it should be. You wait for long periods of time just to hear someone’s name called once, while they walk across the stage to receive a frame of a diploma. (The diploma itself is mailed eight to 10 weeks later.)

But I guess what makes graduation so attractive is the anticipation — waiting for that one moment.

While Kayla was waiting for her degree, I was waiting for something as well.

Here is a well-documented list of events for Kayla’s graduation:

7:32 a.m. Kayla and I meet her family at the hotel. She grabs her freshly-ironed graduation gown from her parents, and we head downstairs to the lobby to take pictures. There was a lump in my pocket that constantly bothered me. But it had to stay in there, it was not the right time.

7:37 a.m. The lobby is a chaotic blend of at least 70 graduates in brown robes accompanied by at least four family members each. We found a spot where we could take the first round of pictures with Kayla’s family; with her grandma, her parents, her nieces and nephews. They ask if I want to take a picture with her. I say “no thanks, I’ll wait until after the ceremony.”

7:54 a.m. I am bestowed upon, by her family, with the task to save 16 spots at the War Memorial Field House. “What a terrible place to have a graduation,” I thought. There were no seats, just bleachers. Very. Uncomfortable. Bleachers. We were extremely far away from the stage, and the field house was getting more and more humid with every person that entered. The big lump in my pocket was uncomfortable against my thigh as I sat down. This is going to be a long ceremony.

8:33 a.m. Between carefully positioning my hat, my camera, my camera bag, a program and myself leaned back on the bleachers, while simultaneously telling people “excuse me, I’m trying to save this spot … yes, there too … we have 16 people coming … sorry,” I was successfully able to get seats for all of her family members. I told Kayla’s family it was no big deal, but inside, I felt like I had singlehandedly fought off half of Laramie.

9:00 a.m. The commencement ceremony starts. I look for Kayla in my long lens camera thinking it would make a great picture. But I couldn’t find her—spotting one specific person out of 300 people dressed in the same robes is not exactly an easy task. I heard her brother-in-law yell her name, just to find out I missed her walking in. So much for that picture.

9:16 a.m. The undergraduate speaker gives his speech, then the graduate speaker. “Alright, this ceremony will go fast,” I thought. The commencement speaker then got up to speak. “Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet,” he said.

9:57 a.m. His speech was not “short and sweet.”

10:02 a.m. The speaker wraps up his speech. The College of Education then gave out their degrees to the Ph.D candidates. There were about 15 of them. It took them a minute for each person to get their degree, get their picture taken and walk off stage.

10:18 a.m. Here come the Master’s Degrees. About 30 of them stood in line It took them the same amount of time for them to get off stage. “Are they going to get to the undergraduates anytime soon?” Kayla’s Dad asked me. I honestly wasn’t sure.

10:50 a.m. Another row of Master’s Degree recipients sat up and walked towards the stage. Kayla texted me and said she was “over this.” I told her to hang in there, even though I was getting antsy myself sitting on these uncomfortable bleachers. And that lump in my pocket seemed to dig deeper into my thigh.

10:53 a.m. Kayla’s mom saw me taking that lump out of my right pocket and put it in my left. She asked “so, are you still planning on doing that thing we talked about.” I said yes. We will take pictures by the Cowboy Joe statute near War Memorial Stadium, I told her.

11:30 a.m. They call Kayla’s name over the loudspeakers. She had a beaming smile on her face as she walked over and got her degree. It was a long road for her; paying her way through college, working 30 hours-a-week while taking 18 credit-hours. She had finally done it, and she was the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

12:02 p.m. The ceremony finally concluded. As I found Kayla within a sea of brown-robed graduates, she looked at me and said “thank god that’s finally over.” I agreed, that lump in my pocket was getting more and more irritating. But I had to wait, just a few more minutes.

12:08 p.m. We made our way to War-Memorial Stadium, a place where Kayla and I spent many afternoons and evening watching the Cowboys play. We stood in in front of the Cowboy Joe Statue, representing the college where we had first met. I finally got my opportunity to take my picture with her. We posed for all five of the family members who wanted pictures of us. My heart was racing at this moment, I was getting nervous. The lump in my pocket had finally become too much for me. “Wait, one more picture,” I said.

12:09 p.m. I dropped to my knee, and Kayla asked what I was doing. With my hands shaking, I reached in my pocket and pulled out that lump that had been irritating me all morning, and showed her my grandmother’s ring. I could barely speak; the poetic and insightful words I had previously rehearsed sounded like a serious of incoherent syllables. She couldn’t talk at all; she covered her mouth in disbelief as tears welled up in her eyes.

I had waited all day: sat through long boring speeches, uncomfortable bleachers, fought off spectators attempting to take my seats.

But the hours of waiting was well worth the one moment.

12:10 p.m. She said “yes”.


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