My darling, wonderful friend Kelli graduated from Southern Utah University on Friday with her Master’s Degree.
She also just got married a couple of weeks ago.
(I know, I know. I really need to get my shit together already.)
Anyway, Kelli is my travel buddy for our upcoming Asian Adventure and I adore her. She’s one of the best people I know and one of my dearest friends.
So when she mentioned that she decided to walk across the stage at graduation and get herself her Master’s hood, I had a thought.
She had several family members in town and a lot of logistics to juggle. Not wanting to impose or cause any additional headaches, I decided to just show up. Not tell her ahead of time or ask her to balance me into the mix with everyone else.
I just wanted to show up. Which I did.
You see, it turns out I had pre-scheduled days off work for no particular reason. Just did. And I decided to use those days off to dash up to Utah for a quick overnighter.
My friend Michele’s parents just moved up to Kelli’s town, but had to temporarily leave their cat at Michele’s house. So I offered to take the cat to them in exchange for a place to sleep and they are so sweet they didn’t even hesitate.
I left SoCal at about 4AM on Friday morning, with a very unhappy cat in tow. She cried some, thrashed around a bit in her soft-sided carrier. At one point she even flipped it upside down, realized that kind of sucked, and flipped it back the right way.
Which was kind of funny to glimpse through the rear view.
Anyway, after accounting for the lost hour crossing the time zone, I arrived in St. George at 10:45. Dropped off the cat, changed clothes and threw a bit of makeup on my face and dashed back out the door. Cedar City is about a 45 minute drive from there. I left at 11:05. Stopped for gas. And walked into the event center at 12:03.
Just as the graduates were pomping and circumstancing their way to their seats.
I ducked into the arena and glanced around, looking for Kelli’s family. Who didn’t know I was there.
There weren’t any empty seats where I stood, so I moved to a different, emptier section, figuring I would just try to track them all down afterward. But something told me that her people were probably seated toward the stage. I looked over that way and caught sight of her brother Joe.
Joe, who was part of our European Extravaganza!
He hadn’t seen me, but at least I knew where to go. So I moved a few sections over and Kelli’s dad saw me. He didn’t look surprised, but that’s probably because he figured just no one bothered to mention to him that I was coming because people often forget to mention stuff to Dad?
Anyway, I gestured to her dad to ask if there were any empty seats and he gestured back that yes, there sure were. So I moved down to their row, found her husband Daenan, who was facing the other way, and asked, “Is this seat taken?”
Daenan glanced over his shoulder at me at said, “Nope,” and I was like, okay, I get that her dad wasn’t surprised to see me, but now her husband isn’t either? Am I really that predictable??
But then Daenan did a double-take as he realized I wasn’t just some rando who didn’t want to sit in the totally empty row right behind him. “What are YOU doing here??” he whispered and I laughed. “Surprise!” I said.
And then I found Kelli sitting in her seat on the floor with a giant grin on her face. And I was so glad I decided to do this.
After graduation we got a few pictures and then went to this super yummy pizza place where we had the chattiest waitress I think of all time. But it was so good.
I assured Kelli that I knew she already had plans and I didn’t want to derail any of those. But we did make time to buy our plane tickets to India. So yay!
All in all, it was so much fun. I loved that I could surprise Kelli like that. Honestly, I was happy to be there for her, but it made me feel so happy that it felt more like it was just for me. But, whatever. I’m fine with that.