Kiki had done it! Yesterday, she took her last finals, earlier in the week she’d given her last presentation and submitted her last research essay, and now, she was done with school!
Her final grades contained one big disappointment–a B minus in Plein Air Painting?
That had been her favorite class! Sure, she often strolled in late, not always realizing just how long it would take for her to walk from her house to the painting site for the day. She was even a little late for the final, come to think of it, with all that emotional turmoil she’d been going through. But a B minus? Surely her work merited more than that!
For an instant, she felt relieved that Ira wasn’t there to see that she’d earned a lower GPA than Ira had–and then she felt guilty for feeling that, and ridiculous, too, for Ira would never make her feel bad for her grades. She’d help her reframe it.
She thought of what Ira might say. Look at your overall GPA! You’ve graduated with an A. This will make absolutely no difference in your life or your career, down the line. If anything, it’s taught you some valuable lessons.
Kiki wasn’t sure yet what those valuable lessons were or might be, but she could discover them in time.
“Hey, congrats on graduating,” said one of her roommate’s friends. “Good deal, star.”
Susume stopped her in the hall. “Hey,” he said, “before you move out, can you just do one thing? Can you just kick the soccer ball with me so I can brag that I kicked the ball with the Great Kiki?”
She flashed back on Susume’s words when she was waiting on the graduation ceremony to start… before she moved out.
Truth was, she hadn’t even thought yet about moving out. She’d sort of put all of that on the back burner… or even, not even in pot yet, but still in the fridge, figuring that she’d deal with it once she was done with her classes, so she could concentrate.
She had no idea what she was going to do next.
“Congrats! We did it!” One of the other graduates interrupted her thoughts.
“I know! We made it!”
The ceremony was long and boring, not really a celebration at all. And afterwards, Kiki was so full of energy and emotion that she had to juggle the soccer ball a bit, just to release some of what had been pent up. She didn’t work out too hard in order to save some reserves for the game that night.
Then she got a call from her coach. “Grats, star,” he said. “We’re gonna miss you.”
“Wait, what? I’ll see you in half an hour for tonight’s game, right?”
“Oh, man,” he replied. “Nobody explained the fine print, right? You’re off the team, babe. Graduated. Once you get that piece of paper, you can’t play for us anymore. We’d lose our eligibility. You’re welcome to come watch, though!”
And just like that, it was over, her whole athlete-scholar career. She always thought she’d have one last game, and that would be the real celebration.
She couldn’t bear to go watch. What if she cried in the stadium? What if her teammates tried to say goodbye to her? It would just be too weird to be there and not be suited up. Besides, they’d already replaced her.
She spent the night playing video games, something she hadn’t done for years. She’d think about tomorrow tomorrow.