I spent part of the holiday weekend on the road. I went to Park Rapids, something I have been doing with some regularity since 1982. However, I cannot recall when the trip was as awesome. I went to an open house for a friend's daughter who was graduating from high school. Perhaps because of that I was paying a bit more attention to the roadside decorations. All along the highway were balloons and signs saying, "Dan's Party" and "ConGRADulations Monica". Throw in the brightly-colored garage sales signs and the flags flying in every little hamlet along the way and I felt like I was part of the world's longest parade. I waved as I drove through several towns, just because it seemed like the right thing to do.
For the short stretches between towns, the corn fields were perfectly green and black and there were cemeteries with flags and flowers shining in the sun. It was as delightful as any trip I have taken anywhere. My husband and children had wisely chosen to stay at home, thinking that they've heard all of the stories that they can tolerate about my high school days and perhaps fearing that I would sing the school song again. Alone in the car I could think about all sorts of things while driving instead of how many rounds of "I Spy" it will take to get there. On the trip north, I was thinking of what to say to folks I hadn't seen in years, how much of the challenges of life to share with them. As it turned out, old friends don't need to be told all of the details, they're just glad you came. The trip home had a completely different theme. I was trying to decide how my high school graduating class would compare to the group of young people getting diplomas this past weekend. At the risk of never being invited to another reunion, my money is on the class of 2006. Throughout the weekend, I met young adults who are already taking intellectual responsibility for themselves. Instead of waiting to be taught, they are going out and learning. I note that there were five class valedictorians this year for the Morris Area High School. That says something, don't you think?
But before I give up completely on my classmates, I remember that we have managed to raise these children, to pay property taxes in support of their education and to contribute to the society that has great expectations of them. Sure, they could likely humiliate me in a no-holds barred game of Jeopardy, but I have recently helped with fifth-grade math homework. Trust me, Calculus III was easier. At a time when the coffee shop talk is about deficits and jails and wars on other continents, it is a pleasure to have been given some hope for the future, some notion that the biggest problem with kids these days is that they are keeping us on our toes.