Of Conflict and Class Rings

This post marks a brief break in today’s exercises of undergraduate monotony. I’m designing a fake budget for a real company that will never see nor benefit from my work. At least my art historical research is appreciated. Come on, grad school.

To kill time and nourish a yearning that is so deep I can hardly recognize it, I called my parents yesterday. I called primarily to say that yes, mother was right, the College of Fine Arts graduation is canceled. This leaves us with the intimate billion person commencement held at an arena. Did they want to attend? Last time we spoke the phrase “not particularly interested in sitting through 7000 graduates” was used. I can hardly blame them but… I’m the first person in my family to graduate college. I was, perhaps problematically, expecting a parade. They slowly responded with a “sure – if we can get off work” and asked me when I was going to buy my cap and gown. Upon my broke college student spiel they offered to pay for it and potentially a class ring. Hm.

This got me thinking. I will go to the bookstore kiosk and design my very own campy class ring. It will have whatever little icon the company feels captures our college – presumably a paint palette and a violin. It will bear the school seal and my graduation year. Most importantly, in this ‘men’s’ set ring, it will frame my initials: EAG. These are only two-thirds of the initials my parents gave me. They reflect the name that will be read at graduation and will be printed on my diploma. What will they think? Will they refuse payment?

I have yet to force the tranny issue on my parents. I have sent letters and received one short and disheartening response. We have never talked about it. They continue to call me ‘Miss’ and pretend like none of this is happening. My voice is dropping and my body is changing. Soon this denial game will have to run its course. I can’t not talk about it anymore. I have half a mind to call right now and make them talk about this. This will get me no where and make me late for work. The other half of a mind that lives in my head is looking for a more productive strategy. Either way this silence has to end.

As frustrating as it is, my graduation will be my crowning achievement thus far in my life. No amount of conflict or consternation from the Gross family contingent will tarnish this. My diploma reflects four years of getting by on grit, luck and some decent viola playing. My diploma will capture the moment I named myself and my queer family that daily surrounds me in so much love. This May, my chosen name will be read to 7000 of my fellow Wildcats. And whether or not anybody lets out a good old collegiate ‘whoop whoop’ in my honor, I will be cheering in my heart. Go cats.

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