The next week was fairly hectic as the boys worked on various end of the year assignments and continued reviewing for finals, while at the same time Noah, Ryan, Brandon, and I were preparing for our trip. Friday night, Brandon checked with Noah and Ryan to make sure they’d packed everything they would need in the suitcase they were going to share. He also told them that they could pack their toiletries in the morning, since they’d be using them before they went to bed and again after they ate breakfast in the morning. He explained that we could load the suitcases into the car just before we left, seeing there would only be two suitcases – one they were sharing and another for Brandon and me. We had decided to take the car instead of the SUV, since it was just going to be the four of us.
After a very early breakfast, we packed the final items into our suitcases, carried them out to the car, and loaded them into the trunk. The boys had put their books in their backpacks so they’d have those items with them during the ride, and we were on the road by 6:30. We’d planned on this early departure time since it was going to be a very long trip.
Brandon offered to drive first, since we’d be sharing the duty, and I noticed the boys were sound asleep by the time we hit the interstate. They ‘napped’ for a couple of hours, and when they awoke I urged them to start hitting the books. I didn’t really pay much attention to what they were doing after that, at least until one of them spoke just before 11:00.
“Are we going to be stopping soon?” Ryan asked. “We ate breakfast a long time ago and I’m hungry.”
“Yes, we’ve been reading the signs to see what choices there are at each exit and we’ll stop as soon as we locate an establishment that serves something other than fast food.”
That happened about twenty minutes later when we found a sign for a local restaurant that looked promising. The place turned out to be very clean, the staff efficient, and the food better than average. After we filled our stomachs, we made a short drive down the street to fill up the gas tank next, and then I moved behind the wheel to drive the rest of the way.
Shortly after we’d crossed into Connecticut, I asked Brandon to call Elliot and let him know we were getting close. “Hey, Elliot, we wanted to let you know that we just entered Connecticut, but we’re going to check into the hotel first and freshen up. After we do that, we’ll drive over to the campus to pick you up so we can go out for dinner.”
I took it that Elliot had no problems with our plan, because the next thing I heard was Brandon saying this. “No, we didn’t bring everyone with us, because it’s the end of the school year for the boys too and they’re busy studying for finals. We let Ryan and Noah come with us, because they agreed to study in the car. Love you and we’ll see you soon.”
When we got to the hotel, we took our suitcases out of the trunk and carried them to the front desk to check in. As soon as we had our card keys, we headed up to our room, splashed some water on our faces, brushed our teeth, and made sure our hair looked good. Then we returned to the lobby and headed out to the car so we could drive over to the campus to meet up with Elliot.
Brandon called him on our way there so he would be waiting at the front entrance of his residence hall when we arrived. He didn’t notice us at first, so I honked the horn and Brandon waved at him out the window to get his attention. As soon as he realized who it was, he rushed over to join us.
“Hi, I’m glad you made it, but why didn’t you drive the SUV?” he asked as he climbed into the back with the other two. Unfortunately for Ryan, it forced him to sit between his two older brothers.
“It didn’t make much sense, because there were just the four of us, and the SUV sucks up a lot more gas than the car.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think of that,” he conceded. “I’m just glad you came, though.”
“We wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Brandon assured him. “And we’re going the film the ceremony so the others can see it when we get back.”
“There will be more than one, so I hope that’s ok, and I’m eager to see the rest of them in a couple of days.”
He then began chatting with the other two and catching up on what they’d been up to since he was home for Christmas, while at the same time directing me to a nearby restaurant. I realized we should have made a reservation in advance, because the place was packed and we had to wait, but we hadn’t done it because we weren’t sure what time we’d be arriving there. While we waited for our name to be called, we quizzed Elliot about the various activities that were planned for the weekend, and we only stopped our conversation when the hostess led us to our table.
By this time we were all starving, so I ordered a couple of appetizers to tide us over until our meals were served, and thankfully it stopped the boys from complaining that they were hungry. Unsurprisingly, those items disappeared quite quickly, so we merely continued to sip our drinks and chat until the entrees were delivered. Even though Brandon and I attempted to chat with Elliot while we were eating, his responses were minimal so he could continue eating. I watched in awe as the boys’ knives and forks whizzed across their plates, and I thought I even glimpsed an occasional spark that was generated by this frantic activity.
As this feeding frenzy began to slow down, Elliot made a suggestion. “If we hurry, I think we might still be able to get to the Yale Dramatic Association’s Commencement Musical.”
“Is it worth going to?” Noah challenged, not sounding convinced.
“It should be. Their performances are usually very high quality and it will probably be pretty funny too, so I think you’ll enjoy it.”
Ryan and Noah agreed to give it a try, so after I took care of paying the tab we loaded into the car again and Elliot directed me on how to get there. It wasn’t as crowded as I’d expected, and Elliot explained it was most likely due to the fact that there were other activities going on at the same time. Once we located a good spot to sit, we settled in for the show to begin.
As Elliot had suggested, the musical was quite funny and very well done, so we were happy that he’d suggested we do this. As we were getting ready to leave, Elliot asked a question. “Do you have two rooms or a double?”
“I just reserved a double; since I thought only Noah would be coming with us.”
“Queen or King beds?”
“It will be a little crowded, but would you guys mind if I stayed with you tonight?” he asked as he looked at Ryan and Noah.
“Nah, we’ll be fine,” Ryan responded, and then he turned toward Brandon and me. “I know we promised not to peek when you had sex, but I can’t vouch for Elliot.”
“Ewww,” Elliot groaned. “I like sex, but seeing our dads making love is not a picture I want stuck in my brain.” The other two were laughing as he made his point.
“I’m not worried, because nothing is going to happen, except for us cuddling while we sleep.”
“In that case, I just need to grab a few things from my room before I go with you. The Worship Service starts at 10:00 and I want to have everything with me.”
We didn’t have a problem with what he wanted to do, and when we stopped to let him pick up the things he needed, Ryan and Noah went with him so they could check out his dorm room. Brandon and I chose to wait in the car, and once they returned I drove over to the hotel.
The boys took turns showering before they got in bed, but Brandon and I opted to shower in the morning. We knew we’d probably wake up before the boys so it wouldn’t be a problem, and we bid each other goodnight as we turned in.
Brandon and I were awake by 7:00, so we took our showers without turning on the light in the room. The light from the bathroom proved to be more than sufficient, since we had taken the bed closest to it. As soon as we’d both showered, we woke up the boys so we could take advantage of the complimentary breakfast before heading over to the first activity of the day. The hotel would be taking a loss on this, since the five of us were taking advantage of the free meal, but I wasn’t about to feel sorry for them. Considering the price they’d charged me for the room, they would still be coming out ahead.
Once everyone was ready, we drove over to the campus again for the University Church Worship. Since we attended church every Sunday, this would merely take the place of our normal service. It was well attended and I was pleased to see so many students there with their parents.
The Church Worship was followed by the Baccalaureate Service, but this time Elliot had to leave us and join the other graduates on the floor of Woolsey Hall, while we went to sit with the other families. There was a horseshoe balcony overlooking the hall, as well as a third level at the end farthest away from the stage. I started to record the ceremony, which got underway with the Dean of Yale College offering a variety of readings, and that was followed by the Yale President giving a formal address.
When the ceremony ended, Brandon, the boys, and I headed to the spot where Elliot had suggested we should meet him afterward, and when he arrived I immediately asked what was next. “We have time to grab lunch before the Class Day Exercises get underway, because it isn’t scheduled to begin until 2:00.”
“Is that when you’ll finally graduate?” Noah asked, since he was becoming slightly exasperated with how the process was dragging out.
“No, the Class Day Exercises is where they’ll present the academic, artistic, and athletic awards.”
“Are you getting any of those?” Noah followed.
“I don’t think so, but the entire senior class will be there.”
“So when do you actually graduate?” Ryan wanted to know.
“That will happen tomorrow morning at the Commencement Ceremony.”
“Damn, do all colleges make you go through all of these things when you graduate?” Noah groaned as he looked at Brandon and me.
“To some extent,” I answered, “but Yale seems to drag things out more than what Brandon and I went through when we graduated.”
“And I’m not even taking you to everything, just the important or fun stuff,” Elliot added.
“Thank god for that much,” Noah mumbled.
“Yeah, cuz if all colleges were like this one I might reconsider wanting to go to college,” Ryan chipped in.
Noah and Ryan seemed to perk up after lunch, and then Elliot told me where to park when we got back to campus, because he needed to stop at his dorm room before we continued. When he returned, he explained that we would walk to the next activity, and then he placed a weird looking hat on his head.
“What the hell is that about?” Ryan demanded as he stared at Elliot.
“It’s Silly Hat Day and all of the graduating seniors will be wearing a stupid looking hat along with their robe.”
When we got there and were able to see some of the other ‘silly’ hats, Elliot’s didn’t look quite as crazy as we first thought. It just wasn’t something you would expect to see on the head of someone wearing a black robe.
Along with announcing the winners of the various awards, there was also a keynote speaker. We were amazed to see who was giving the address.
“Did you know Hillary Clinton was going to be doing this?” Noah asked.
“No, Elliot didn’t happen to mention it,” I said after glancing at Brandon to see if he knew about this in advance. He merely shook his head and shrugged his shoulders in response.
“It’s kinda neat, though, cuz I’ve never seen anyone as important as her in person before,” Ryan stated after hearing my response.
Once this particular activity ended, we met up with Elliot again, and almost immediately Noah made a comment. “I hope there isn’t any more of this stuff we’ve got to go to now.”
“Only one more activity tonight and another one tomorrow," Elliot responded. “I thought you might like to go to the Whiffenpoofs and Whim’n Rhythm Commencement Concert.”
“So I guess it means there will be music,” Ryan stated while making a face.
“Yes, and it should be fun.”
“So what’s the other activity?” Noah followed.
“The Commencement Ceremony, which will be held tomorrow at 10:00.”
“Is that when you’ll finally graduate?”
“Yes, although I won’t be getting my diploma then. They’ll mail it to me later.”
“Ok, I guess I can hold out until then.”
After going to a different restaurant for dinner, we headed back to campus for the concert. It wasn’t exactly a rock concert, but it was enjoyable and a nice way to unwind after a long day.
“It wasn’t the best music, but there was plenty to look at,” Ryan commented after it ended. He’d been busy scoping out the various members of both sexes in the crowd while he listened to the concert.
After going back to the car, we dropped Elliot off at his dorm, because he was going to spend the night there. He told us that he had to assemble with the other seniors at 9:15 to march in the procession that would begin at 10:00. The Commencement Ceremony was scheduled to start at 10:30, which meant we’d have a little more time to get ready in the morning than he would.
After we dropped Elliot off, the rest of us went back to the hotel and Ryan and Noah showered quickly before settling in to get a little rest. Brandon and I agreed to shower in the morning again, and then we’d wake the boys to go with us for breakfast.
After cracking the proverbial whip to get them moving after we’d awakened them, we had a quick breakfast before heading to our final stop on this lengthy and hectic weekend. We got there in time to take our seats before the procession of graduates entered Connecticut Hall, and I filmed them as they walked to their seats.
It wasn’t exactly your typical high school or small college ceremony where the graduates paraded across the stage to accept their diplomas. Instead, the Dean of each academic specialty verbally petitioned the President to grant his or her request to bestow degrees on that particular group. Once this process had been repeated with each of the Deans, the various Deans and the Yale President awarded the honorary degrees to a dozen or more prominent individuals. Shortly after that had been completed, the Commencement Ceremony ended and we were free to leave.
The previous evening we’d agreed to meet Elliot at his residence hall after the ceremony ended, because we knew he’d want to mingle with the other graduates first. When he finally arrived, we helped him load up his car, because we would be leaving as soon as that had been taken care of He’d packed up nearly everything before we’d arrived on campus, so all we had to do was help him carry the boxes down to his car. We placed some of the items in the trunk and loaded the overflow on the backseat, and since it didn’t all fit in those areas, we put the excess into the trunk of our car, next to our suitcases. It was well after noon by the time we finished, so we followed Elliot to another place to eat so we could grab a quick bite before driving home.
“Are you going to follow us back?” I asked Elliot after we’d ordered.
“Yeah, as long as you don’t drive too slowly.”
“Don’t worry, Speed Racer, but I don’t think either of us wants to get a ticket on the way home.” He nodded in understanding. “We’ll stop for gas and change drivers at about the halfway point, just so you know what to expect.”
“Can I ride with Elliot, and then I can split the driving with him?” Noah followed. I merely looked at Elliot, since this would have to be his decision.
“Yeah, ok. I don’t usually let anyone else drive my car, but if you promise to be real careful then I’ll let you do it. It’s a long drive for one person to make, especially after such a busy morning.”
“Yeah, and I promise to be really careful,” Noah agreed. “Besides, we’ll be following them back, so I won’t have to worry about getting lost.”
“Just take your backpack with you so you can study while Elliot is driving,” I added.
“I was hoping you’d forget about that,” Noah joked.
“You won’t have to do it right away, because I’m going to let you drive first. That’s because I’m not sure I trust you to drive after dark,” Elliot explained.
“That’s probably a good idea,” I agreed, “but make sure he cracks the books after you change places.”
“Don’t worry, I will,” Elliot agreed before we split up.
When we got in the car, I heard Ryan sigh before he spoke. “At least now I’ve got room to stretch out.”
“So you should be comfortable while you’re studying,” I replied, which caused him to groan, but he didn’t comment.
I drove first this time, and about halfway back we decided to stop, eat, use the restrooms, and fill up the gas tanks before switching drivers and continuing on.
It was well after dark before we arrived at the house, and the other boys were already in bed. We told Ryan and Noah to head upstairs and get ready for bed too, because they had school in the morning. After releasing a few groans, they grudgingly did as they were told.
Once they had gone, we explained to Elliot that we were going to turn in as well, since we both had to work in the morning, After we said goodnight to him, he gave us both a hug before we headed up to our bedroom, and then he followed Grandpa Josh to the family room so they could chat.