On June 18th, 2016, I walked across the stage at the National Arts Centre, shook hands with the Vice-Chancellor and the school President, received congratulations from the Program Director and the professor I disliked the most and was given a shiny burgundy folder. That was it. I was now the proud owner of a diploma with my name on it, confirming that I had fulfilled all the obligations needed to get my Maitraire es Arts en Etudes de Conflits. This is what graduating is like.
And then, as we tried to leave, the school officials held us hostage in the underground lair that is the dressing rooms and rehearsal space of the theatre and we took our chances and ran towards an exit. We were free, or so we thought before trudging through a park (in heels!), up a set of stairs, cross a busy transit way and return our gowns. This was graduating at its finest. A handful of us, girls I had never met, cheered and congratulated each other on the great escape. We pumped our firsts and revealed that we had just fought the system and that we won. Silly, I know.
But we did win, in a way – smiling, taking photos and reveling in our accomplishment. That’s a victory. And while I don’t feel any smarter, and cringe a little when people ask me about my future plans, I feel proud. Three years of full-time work, part-time school, travel, family, stress, issues at work and a few colds and flus thrown in there. Mended a slightly bruised heart and shed a lot more tears while I wrote my thesis. A spell of insomnia that has yet to go away. Seeing my friends and family after the ceremony. The joy of having finished. I’m not sure if they noticed, but I was beaming. Following that, a night at a festival in Ottawa, beer with old and new friends and I felt elated. This, my friends, is what graduating should feel like.
So this isn’t about graduating?
No. It’s about tacos. The week after my graduation, my friend Matt planned a dinner, hitting up one of the restaurants that makes up my summer to-do list – a google doc shared among friends with a list of places to visit, restaurants to try and bars to frequent. So, he picked Ace Mercado and off we went to the try the tacos.
I had the roasted eggplant tacos, with Mexican Kmchee, apricots and lime. We shared the guacamole, commented on how they brought us more chips (that is the secret to a good place) and drank the Ace margarita. It was delicious. For a meal, it was pretty great. The tacos were fairly good. Roasted eggplant tacos are hard to perfect, and El Caminos is definetely the best in Ottawa for that.
But for the evening that it became, it was perfect. We followed that up with a trip down memory lane, grabbing drinks at 4 Jeudis, a bar I use to visit more frequently when most of my friends were from Quebec. Stories, shots and selfies ended the night.
Although this was not an evening for me because I was graduating, it happened because I did graduate. And that is pretty special. And those friends and that family ? Those who make my nights long and who argued and debated with me about the conception of terrorism, and who laugh at my jokes and let me write about them here and take photos next to #exposedbrick… well, they are pretty special too.