The tassel had kept brushing Adam’s cheek with each movement of his head. He brushed it away gently every time but the ceremony was too long and he was unfortunately blessed with the last name Parrish. And with P being closer to the end of the alphabet, he found himself stuck equally far behind in the the folding metal chairs set up outside in the courtyard of his university. Slightly anxious, immensely excited.
The universities president was at the podium giving speeches about how this class will be the ones to change to future. How this group of exceptionally bright students would take life by its proverbial horns and create the change the world needs. Adam can’t help but listen in awe and hope it’s true. That it isn’t a loop of inspirational messages for show. He wants to be that change. For himself, for the world, for the people just like him that maybe had too many obstacles to overcome to get where he was. For the ones that couldn’t make. To be an example to those to show that “You can make it. Just like me.” to BE the inspiration.
He looked out to the crowd, scanning the faces of visitors here for their sons, their daughters, friends, cousins. He stopped when his eyes caught on a face slightly different than the others. A little more sharper, a smidge more unearthly. Some were here for their significant others. Like this one. This one he knew was here for his boyfriend. This one was here for him.
Adam smiled at him, feeling some of his nervous energy leak out and be replaced with a warmness not unlike sitting under a summer sun when the days have just become warm enough to fall asleep unguarded. A contentment that in his life, had been a rarity. It was a feeling of being known and accepting being known. Loving being known. Loving someone else whole heartedly and knowing them just as fully.
Ronan sat, suit clad amongst the other visitors. Ronan, who avoided formal occasions, was dressed to the 9s. A clean white shirt beneath the black blazer, emerald tie loosely hanging from his neck. A pamphlet in hand as he tried to shift a bundle of energy closer to himself, trying to calm her down. He leaned down to whisper in the girl’s ear and when he did, Opal turned her head quickly in his direction, waving wildly to him with a smile too big for her face. And when he didn’t wave back returning the same level of excitement, she confused it for him not having seen her so she started to stand atop her chair to be the buoy in an ocean. A unmistakable light house in the dark. But she got about .004 seconds in before Adam saw her get tugged quickly down. A buoy being claimed by the sea.
He laughed and turned his head back to the speakers. He watched as the friends he made over the past four years walked up and received their degrees. Smiling to the teachers and hollering to the crowd, whose volume grew higher than before each time with each graduate. A sea of supporters holding each of them up to make their way across the ocean. This final stretch of their journey. Their jubilance was infectious and Adam may have been a little too focused on them all because only when he caught sight of Ronan making a jumbled mess of hand movements and gesturing up to the front, did Adam hear his name called. For a second time.
“Adam Parrish.” the voice repeated not unkindly but in a way that’s meant to break one from their daydreams. The “helloooo…??” tone to it.
And just as Adam turned away from Ronan, he’s sure he saw a roll of his eyes but an entertained smirk on his lips. The “For fucks sake Parrish, pay attention.” words ricocheting in his mind in Ronans voice straight to heart, to his stomach, and back again.Adam inhaled, taking a few milliseconds to ground himself. This was what he’d worked for. The endless nights studying in Henrietta , the lack of proper sleep and the too many jobs he’d held down to push him closer to this finish line. He was here. He had made it. He had done it all on his own. Well, that wasn’t necessarily true. He had a handful of friends that watched him grow into who he’d become. Had seen the demons he fought and never left his side. He had always known he’d make it here, that was without question. He just never imagined he wouldn’t be alone when he did.