Monday, May 16, 2011

Graduations, Proms, and Summers, Oh My!

We're coming up on that time of year again, the year of endings and new beginnings. Graduation. Although I graduated high school two years ago, I still feel really nostalgic around this time.

Graduating was hard for me, all of it. Not just having to move on, make new plans, and become a grown-up (something I'm still decades away from, I'm pretty sure), the whole ordeal of graduation itself was hard. The stress of having to cross the stage in a stupid-looking robe with the entire town staring at me, being forced to spend almost a whole weekend with classmates I didn't even really like that much, and my actual prom night -- ugh.

My graduation ceremonies went like this.

-- on the Friday evening, we had the walk-across-the-stage ceremony

-- After that, a mocktail party.

-- After mocktails, casino night (not actual gambling, we had fake money, but still, boring as hell)

-- Saturday afternoon, another mocktail-type party

-- Saturday night, prom

When I say "prom," I mean that we rented out the local university (really swanky building), had a fancy dinner, then we played Wii on a giant screen, had a Velco obstacle course, mechanical bull, karaoke, photo booths, Tarot card readers, and just generally ran around all crazy -- in our fancy dresses and tuxes.

Sounds fun, but point I was so burnt out. I'm the kind of person that can have fun with a group of people for an hour or two, but I really need alone-time to recharge, and I just didn't get that the whole weekend. As a result I was completely miserable and spent most of "prom" by myself in the gardens outside or on the balcony, staring out across the valley at my small town and wishing I was somewhere else.

*emo alert*

And of course, after grad weekend there were after-parties and house parties for another month, since our grad stuff is held at the end of May and school is out near the end of June!

Anyway, I'm now writing a book where a graduation is the opening setting, and I'm aware that my prom/grad experience was probably pretty atypical. So I'm asking you: what was your high school grad like? Did you have the typical American prom, or did your school do something a bit different? If you read about a prom like mine in a YA book, would it ring true to you, or would it be hard to relate to?

Tell me your stories!


  1. In Australia, we call our equivalent to the 'prom', the 'formal'. Every school does theirs differently but I've never heard of another school doing it the way our did. They - wait for it - invited our parents for the entire night. You weren't allowed to invited a date, you had to bring your parents. And this is for a public school!

    If I read about a prom like yours in a book, I don't think I would have any believability issues with it, perhaps as long as it was acknowledged by the characters that it's not 'the norm'.

  2. Hiya. Guess what? You're invited! I am starting up a networking community for supporters of the LGBT community, as well as readers and writers of LGBT fiction and nonfiction, called Everything LGBT. The blog will discuss LGBT novels, movies, music, rights/issues, current events, etc. I would love it if you would join and share the link with whomever you can. I believe that media will bring the next big change, and I want to help to make that happen. Thanks.

    <3 Gina Blechman

  3. You had all of that at your prom?! We had the usual: fake cardboard cut out settings, music, and party food. The location was in an old gym. It was boring. Everyone showed up to show off dresses & dates. Then ppl partied after. Typical.
    Graduation: Ceremony in football stadium on a Friday night ( a month after prom). Afterward students went to dinner with families, then parties afterward.

  4. I was very happy to graduate and move on, but I didn't go to the grad party thing. It wasn't nearly as extravagant as yours, though. And prom was at the beginning of May, graduation at the end. I didn't go to my prom. Yeah, I was a big loser. I think you can use your experiences. Whose to say that those things couldn't happen to a character?

  5. My graduation was outside in 98 degree weather. It was long and boring and, when I finished, it just felt good to be over. It wasn't exciting for me, I think because I was already so much more mature than most of the people in my class at that point and I was ready to move on.

    However, I think I would relate to your graduation in a story, because every teenager goes through those feelings, even if they don't do it at graduation, so it would still be relatable. Though I think that milestones are more palpable when they happen outside of some tradition or convention, but before or afterward or at some random moment. But if you'd like we can talk more about that, cuz your story sounds like it'll be interesting.

    <3 Gina Blechman

    P.S. As far as Sarah Waters, so far I've read Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and The Night Watch. I'm definately going to read and review Fingersmith for my blog as well. :-) Waters is an absolute goddess when it comes to writing. Magnificent.