My Daughter's Graduation from
The University of California - Berkeley

Friday, May 15, 2009 - En Route to Bezerkley

I was on Continental's 6:30am departure from Fort Myers (RSW) - connecting in Houston (IAH) - which landed San Francisco (SFO) at about 11am local time.  I was making great time until I got to the Dollar Car Rental counter - with three of the absolutely slowest imaginable employees trying to whittle-down a very long line of increasingly exasperated customers!  Finally got on my way not quite an hour later - and traffic was quite kind to me as I made way to the "palatial" Extended Stay America motel in Emeryville.

On the drive-up my daughter phones, expressing some anxiety over how long it was taking me to get to her area.  You see, since we don't get to share a lot of personal time she thought I would enjoy helping her return the last of her library books and buy her Graduation Cap 'n Gown (she guessed correctly) - but they were closing mid-afternoon, and if she didn't make it she'd have nothing in which to graduate the following day.  So... after checking-in and dropping my bags I quickly drove to her apartment - where we walked to campus and ran all of those errands.

There was no doubt on which campus I'd set foot... If people would stop texting her we might get something done... Making sure I knew where to come 24 hours from now...
Jordan's last undergrad home (she rented the room over the front entry) Gotta take one more congratulatory call before going inside... A snapshot of the college room - for posterity's sake - as she unwinds with her iTunes blaring-away!

Late that afternoon I drove her back with me to the motel (so she could see my accommodations); we then went to downtown Berkeley for a very tasty Chinese food dinner with her friend Kyle and his family.  Afterwards, jet lag was beginning to overtake me - and with Jordan wanting to party-away her last night as an undergrad (with her friends), we said g'nite and went our separate ways.  I was actually very proud of myself that I didn't crash 'n burn until almost 11 that night... which let me sleep unconscionably late: 6am local time (when I travel to the west coast I usually wake between 3 and 330 for the first few days)!


Saturday, May 16, 2009 - Graduation Day!

Since dropping nearly 50lbs I've gotten into the habit of going on long walks - so I decided the crisp, early morning area would be good for killing two birds with one stone: not only could I get-in a brisk walk, I could also be sure I knew the location of the nearest BART station (which we were going to take in a few hours to downtown Berkeley... where parking spaces are always at a premium). On the walk back I bought a cute "congratulations, graduate!" card at a nearby market, then came back to my motel and make some phone calls and surf the net just a bit.

The phone calls were me attempting to locate a florist who had one yellow rose on her mother's behalf... which became an unexpectedly difficult task.  I finally located one well north of Berkeley (about 30min from my motel), so I set-out.  Just about the time I arrived, Natalie phoned to say they had arrived early at the hotel (and couldn't check-in because they were so early)... I explained it'd be another 45min before I returned, as I was trying to finish this wild goose chase she'd requested of me!  I did return, about that time, and she was very grateful that her main gift to our daughter was now in hand.

Natalie, her brother Paul, his wife Lil, and I drove to the BART station just before 1pm... piece of cake getting to the downtown area and then walking to campus... the only downside was that it was a freakishly hot day in The Bay Area (normal high temps would be around 70 - it was mid-90s when the ceremony actually got underway).  But we were fortunate to get first row in front of where the grads would sit... great seats except for the continual sunshine throughout the entire 2-1/2 hours!  Just a minute-or-so after 3pm things began:

Jordan enters the theatre - and reacts when she spots her group on the nearby front row The Commencement Address was delivered by author Nuruddin Farah It's that time... wonder what she was thinking?
Her serious demeanor did give way to this smile Time to take the stroll... remembering all of the hard work that had let to the point... ...where her name was called and she received her diploma
Happy?  Nah, not my kid!  ;-) After making eye contact with her best friends, you can immediately see the look of relief on her face Now if we can all just stay conscious - in the very abnormally hot daytime temps!
Jordan makes way towards her clan... ...and is touched by the generational familial connection symbolized by the Yellow Rose (of Texas) A proud Mama, for sure!
Chris and Denise - Jordan's two bestest buddies The three of them grew more giddy with each passing moment... ...with the laughter soon giving way to tickles! :D
Jordan and Natalie (figures that the camera's fill flash died for this particular sequence! :/ ) Proud Aunt Lil and Uncle Paul were both in attendance JP and The Old Man
Some 17+ years after our divorce, we always knew that our only daughter would forever bond us Reflecting back on her formative years, I'm still stunned that my kid is now a Cum Laude Graduate of UC-Berkeley.  Damn.  Just damn. Me thinks the intense heat was making everyone giddy
"Can you believe that THIS just graduated from Berkeley?!?!!" lol Dad quickly reminds the kid that he's wonderfully immature for his age! :p Re-enacting the tossing of the mortarboard, so we all could see her do it
Paul, Lil, and Natalie - enjoying the beauty of the Berkeley Campus - as we head-back to the motel Waiting to be seated for Graduation Night Dinner @ The Sea Salt Restaurant Before the food arrives, Jordan opens a bunch of congratulatory cards and gifts - after dinner, the youngins partied until the sun came up!

The ceremony concluded and after the obligatory after-pictures (seen above) Paul, Lil, Natalie and myself headed-back to the motel to enjoy pre-dinner cigars.  Then, after showering-off the afternoon's sweat, we piled-into my rent car for the drive over to The Sea Salt Restaurant (highly recommended, btw... DEFINITELY try the Ahi Sliders!!) - where Jordan, Chris, and Denise were already waiting for us.  A most excellent, leisurely dinner on the patio (which seemed strangely chilly after the hot daytime temps just a few hours earlier) - and as quickly as it began the day ended... with the old farts returning to the hotel to enjoy the last of my Cuban Cigars while the old-farts-to-be partied until dawn.


Sunday, May 17, 2009 - Out 'n About in The Bay Area

A pensive moment after shopping and a movie...
After killing some of the morning hours on another longish walk, by late morning Jordan was becoming semi-functional (on about four hours sleep) - we headed-across The Bay Bridge into San Francisco, where we soon did some serious damage to Dad's Discover Card (clothes shopping - which she needed, since she was going to move back to Central California late the following week to begin a full-time job at a local winery).  The shopping was arranged near a cinema so she could see the new "Star Trek" movie (for the first time - it was my third viewing)... and her pronouncement?  "The guy who played Captain Kirk was hawt!!"  lol  We then wandered a bit in the downtown area, before heading back to East Bay in the late afternoon.
We were originally going to have one last, big, blow-out dinner... but Jordan was exhausted with the sun still up... so we opted for her fave sushi restaurant just a few blocks from her house.  She only nibbled at it (while I scarfed-mine - it was GREAT!)... I then drove her back to her apartment, where we said "goodbye" and I snapped this pic of her already calling it a night.  No joke - she did wake later to change, but slept about 16 hours!
Even the young have only so much stamina after partying all night and getting precious little sleep!

Monday, May 18, 2009 - En Route back home to Southwest Florida

And so another long west coast weekend came to a close for yours truly.  Originally, I had hoped to have breakfast with Jordan so I could see her one last time... as it was, she woke in time to phone me while I was sitting at my gate - a few minutes before boarding my connecting flight home (she apologized profusely for being so tired, but there was no need... I WANTED her to party herself-out that weekend - it was her celebration of all of her hard work!).  Uneventful return home... dogs happy to see me... return to real life.

David departs The Bay Area - as did Jordan ten days after me! Interestingly, I was able to spot my hotel on departure!

Until next time, California... be it for yet another visit... or *crosses fingers* for my final move...


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