April is the
It breeds last-ditch bad romances from the long-dead dating
pool, mixes hastily-slapped-together thesis presentations with cheap grain alcohol,
stirs dull recollections of utensils filched from dining halls months ago, and features a surprisingly bountiful amount of spring rain. More than that, though, it’s
the time of year when I start seeing giant snakes everywhere I turn.
Among the myriad
groundbreaking moments in televisual history given to us by Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the season three
finale, “Graduation Day, Pt. 2.” That episode, which marks the end of the
Sunnydale High years for the slayer and her pals, presents the single best
portrayal of graduation the small screen has ever seen, in my estimation.
the speech delivered by the gang’s administrative foil, Principal Snyder: “Congratulations to the Class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate.
This is a time of celebration, so sit still and be quiet.” It’s far more honest
than any of the clichés we bust out year after year in the real world.
undisputed climax of the ceremony, though, comes when the keynote speaker,
Sunnydale’s own Mayor Richard Wilkins, transforms into a 70-foot-tall ophidian hellbeast.
With the sort of occult library that makes the media room at the downtown Celebrity
Centre look like the Kiddie Corner, the kids of SHS are more than prepared, and
make quick work of the basilisk—and their high school building, thanks to a hell
of a lot of strategically placed TNT.
It’s that explosion
that’s always captivated my interest. Not just because of the production
details—after the scene (shot at 5 a.m.) sent a sonic shockwave rippling
throughout Torrance, California, shattering windows and setting off car alarms,
the town council swiftly put the kibosh on future plans to film within the city
limits—but because of what it represents. Far from a glorification of school
violence, for me, the destruction of Sunnydale High has always been metaphorical—a
direct invocation of the quintessential graduation fantasy.
I think that all of
us, on some level, harbor this secret hope that the institution we are leaving
will be blotted out once we are gone. Despite our contributions to the senior
class gift, given in the ostensibly earnest hope that the colleges will
continue to attract eager, thoughtful and reverent students for years to come, the more solipsistic angels of our collective nature
make it hard to imagine that this place will—nay, can—exist without us.
Graduation brings up a number of capital-T Things (the heart-wrenching realization that it may be decades before
you’re reunited with your best friends, existential anxiety about your place in
the world, the 20/20 hindsight snapping into focus, and the subsequent barrage
of what-ifs and if-only’s). But the idea that the territory you’ve finally started to
think of as belonging to you is going
to some other people, people who won’t
even remember LikeALittle, or Mark Neustadt, or all-5C TNCs, or the once-alarmingly
loose HMC fire policy, is the hardest.
I think everyone who’s ever gone to college—who’s
napped and puked and messed around on crappy institutional single-ply
mattresses, cursed their persistent inability to gauge time or distance as they
hightailed it across campus lest they be late for their 8:00 a.m. class again, kissed in the stacks or on the
quad or in the Mason basement bathroom stall, banged their fist on the table
during office hours, burst into tears during office hours, dissolved into
laughter over unexpectedly proffered wine during office hours—knows what it’s
like to have given your life over to an obstacle-course-cum-psychic-vampire
like Sunnydale High. It had its demons, sure, but that wasn’t why the Scooby
Gang destroyed it.
They destroyed it because they loved it too much to let it
But now we are
grown, and the Byrds and the Book teach us that time turns in seasons, and that
the nature of existence (and thus the fate of mankind) depends upon our
graceful exit. We remember that we, too, were young and uninitiated not so long
ago, that it’s okay that we will not be the last to walk these hallowed halls,
because we certainly weren’t the first.
The eerie preponderance of bricks and
rocks that have been thrown through windows over the past four years be damned: The circle will be unbroken, and we will learn to let live by and by (or else
we could displace all of our neurosis onto the cipher of a giant snake, but
that’s clichéd at this point).
The Sunnydale High
School Class of ’99 motto was “The Future is Ours.” That may ring true of
us, but we have to accept that getting the keys to that future means
relinquishing control over the more intimately-felt future we are used to
directing en masse. We are ceding our roles as the day-to-day makers and
breakers of these institutions.
In the words of the ever-eloquent Cordelia
Chase, “Crazy or not, it’s pretty much the only plan.” And if there’s anything
we’ve learned in four years of watching our friends scale Blaisdell,
learning eight weeks of material in seven hours (the sun rising, of course,
around week 6) and unlimited self-serve access to dining hall food, crazy
being the only plan is something we can handle.
Lexie Kelly Wainwright PO ’15 is a religious studies major and a linguistics studies minor. This North Campus queen was destined for royalty from birth—she was born in the same hospital as Blue Ivy Carter.