Of all the clothes I’ve loved before, nothing quite compares to the black billowing gown I slid into nine years ago. It was simple — predictable even — and thousands wore it the same day as me. But that didn’t lessen the sheer pride and sense of accomplishment I felt during the two hours I donned it. It was my college graduation gown, yo.
“Serena” is three days away from wearing the same gown. Her family is anxiously awaiting her big fashion moment. Serena is anxiously awaiting it. The University of Utah is anxiously awaiting it. Whichever branch of the government issues student loans is anxiously awaiting it.
What? She’s my little sister. It’s my job to give her shit. It’s also my job to give her props when props are due. And, much like those student loans, these props are well past due, baby.
Serena, or Aneres as I like to refer to her, is going to shape the minds of our future. She’s going to give us one less reason to doubt public schools and one more reason to see Junior into the big yellow bus with confidence.
My little sister is going to be a high school teacher. Kids are going to see her at the mall and get totally weirded out. They’re going to roll their eyes and mouth off to her and … act like they’re in high school.
Until they come into class one day and find Miss Serena assigning hip-hop verses as poetry lessons. Until she makes the girls think of themselves as Juliette and the boys identify with Hamlet. Until they’re embarrassed to admit English class is kind of cool — and Miss Serena? She’s even cooler.
Serena loves literature. Growing up, a trip to the library for her was the equivalent of a trip to Contempo for me: You’d have to call in back-up to get us out. We lived in a split-entry home and it wasn’t unusual to see a stack of books coming up the stairs before seeing Serena. She never met a young-adult fiction book she didn’t like, Greek mythology is her first language and she thinks of her life in two phases: Before she read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” and after.
Teaching English was her destiny and, to use one of my mom Clair’s favorite expressions, Serena is “going to her destiny” this Friday.
Serena, I can tell you from experience that nothing you’ve experienced in life thus far will compare to Friday’s accomplishment. No All-Star softball uniform, no varsity softball uniform (even when you’re the only freshman wearing it) can compare to suiting up in that black gown. No accessory can stand up to that crazy cap. And, for damn sure, no ritual can hold a candle to flipping that tassel from the right to the left.
So, go for it, Little Sis. To the left, to the left. Marisela Lluvia, flip your tassel to the left.