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Ice Castles: My First Graduation

ice castles memory
Please, don’t let this feeling end
It’s everything I am, everything I want to be
I can see what’s mine now
Finding out what’s true since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love

Now, I can take the time, I can see my life
As it comes up shining now
Reaching out to touch you
I can feel so much since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love

The year was 1986.

The scene was the gymnasium at R.J. McNulty Elementary School.

We were in sixth grade – our last day of sixth grade – and those of us in the band were playing the ‘Theme from Ice Castles’ – in likely rather-sad fashion. Yet the melody came through, and as I read the lyrics that went along with the song, I wondered if our band conductor/football coach Mr. Pangburn had chosen the song for its sentiment or sound. Did he know that some of us were realizing that our childhoods were coming to an end?

And now I do believe
That even in a storm
We’ll find some light
Knowing you’re beside me
I’m all right…

Like most kids, I didn’t fully fathom that the last years of childhood were in fact the last years of childhood. Turning into a young adult always seemed far away, just out of reach and tantalizingly unavailable. While most of me couldn’t wait to get there (I found kids to be, for the most part, tiresome and foolish) there was a small portion of my heart that held onto my youth, that didn’t want to grow up. That little boy was the one playing the oboe in the hot, stuffy gym of McNulty School, during his sixth grade graduation, in the only school he’d ever known since kindergarten.

He thought back to that first day, when his mother set him free all those years ago. He sobbed at the ankles of his teacher, Miss Delamater, so sad and terrified was he at being left alone in a room of strangers. It took a few days before he would talk. But eventually he found his way. He made friends, and was especially popular with the girls. He survived the usual battles of childhood – chicken pox and forgotten homework and being sent to the back of the class for laughing too much (as if he could control that!) – and less-than-usual battles as well – a lactose intolerance that left his stomach in such pain he missed weeks at a time, a strange fear of being away from home that made him look up at the fluorescent lights to dry the tears that came suddenly from seemingly nowhere, and the nagging, gnawing suspicion that the difference he felt in himself from his classmates was indeed very different from the difference that most kids feel. Now, at the end of his elementary journey, he understood that he didn’t want it to be over. All the pain and the sadness was coupled with such joy and happiness, and the whole path was so rich and wonderful and varied that he wasn’t ready to let it go. But the band played on…

Please, don’t let this feeling end
It might not come again and I want to remember
How it feels to touch you
How I feel so much since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love

And now I do believe
That even in a storm
We’ll find some light
Knowing you’re beside me
I’m all right

My eyes turned watery. I looked around at my classmates, at my friends, and I knew it would never be the same. They didn’t seem to notice. The song ended with a spattering of applause. The ceremony continued. At the end, we had some refreshments, said a few good-byes, and headed off into the summer.

Now, I can take the time, I can see my life
As it comes up shining now
Reaching out to touch you
I can feel so much since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love.
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