I’m hanging out in Sewannee, Tennessee for the week to go to Annie’s high school graduation. Annie and I are friends of the blood-pact-practically-related variety, so there was no way I was missing out on visiting the place she’s been [photographing the heck out of] for the past two years and seeing her get all nervous about social obligations and formal parties and people.
We have mostly been hanging out in the woods. Yesterday was going to be our caving day, but the sky threatened to break and wet caves make for dangerous adventures, so we went to see this natural bridge instead.
These are the adventures Annie likes having, and I like having them with her. Adventures Annie does not like having include being on stages, having people talking about her, and wearing anything but dirty hippie clothes.
However, her high school graduation is tomorrow, and that comes with some required pomp and audience. Last night were the “Annies” (no relation), a school tradition where each graduating senior gets a poem written and read to them by their advisor.
Annie was, understandably, not so excited.
It started with an outdoor church service in the rain…
She got increasingly uncomfortable during dinner, as the dreaded ceremony drew nigh…
[obligatory remark on how amazing iced tea is]
And in the end, the author of Annie’s “Annie” made it literally a string of Conor Oberst quotes. Everyone who loves Annie understood (you can’t ride in a car with her without hearing at least half of a Bright Eyes album), but even the guy reading it didn’t know what he was reading (“is this like… a poem?” he asked the teacher who wrote it). It wasn’t an “embarrassing” or stressful display of overt affection. It sounded like bizarre free verse. And that made it perfect for her.
The world was designed for extroverts, but I think it’s important to write tastefully opaque beat poems sometimes for the Annies of the world. I know I often forget this.
Some people really like the pomp, the personalized farewells, the camera phones, and some people really like the woods, Conor Oberst, and cats.
Leaving high school and going forward, the world keeps getting bigger. The loud people are really loud, and sometimes it feels like if you’re not winning the volume game that means you’re losing the life game. That being relieved by the soft incomprehensible joke and the quiet applause that follows is less “good” than being someone whose name everyone chants as they walk on and grin.
I don’t think that’s true. Not everyone thinks the same five qualities are beautiful. Some lives are natural bridges instead of White Houses. Some other lives are art galleries and third-floor apartments and gymnasiums, and if humanity was just a neighborhood of legislative buildings, a lot of beautiful things could never happen. I think Annie is really good at the life game, and I’m really proud to be her friend.