May Flowers 


Riley made this paper flower lei, put it around my neck, and said, “Auntie Ashley I made this fo’ you. It says Wuv Riley.”

It’s that time again when the world gets filled with graduation gowns, decorated caps, flower leis, and family photos. Graduations in Hawai’i (especially high school graduations) can only be described like a Black Friday event, but instead of fighting your way through crowds for another piece of technology you don’t need, you get stuck in what feels like an escape room while you look for your friend’s 10-foot banner decorated with their name, senior portrait, and a throwback baby picture. Flower leis are the default gifts you share with the graduates, which have slowly evolved over the years. I’ve seen gifts like pool floaties signed by all your friends, Burger King crowns, a bag of chips with a string attached to wear as a necklace, tighty whities used as beanies, and a toilet seat. Yes. A straight up toilet seat. It didn’t matter though. What mattered were the people who took the time to celebrate your accomplishments and where dinner was going to be held afterward because you knew that the restaurants nearby would be packed with a two-hour wait and that all your balloons and leis took up two cars.

My favorite part of all three of my commencements was seeing my family in stands cheering for me. I couldn’t hear anything they shouted because no one can compete with that family blowing their air horns, but I didn’t care. I’m very familiar with having my family in audience through many dance performances, however, walking across the stage with my degree in hand and seeing my parents’ keeping-it-together facial expressions is a timeless moment that made it all worth while.

Class of 2016, soak in the significance of this time, turn your tassel even if you don’t know the reason behind that ritual, and try not to hit anyone as you throw your cap in the air.

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