The weather was hot. I took off my cardigan and put on my sunglasses. I took off my mask so my sunglasses wouldn’t fog, then put the mask back on when I felt like I was close to the crowd. The clouds rolled in and the cardigan was put back on, glasses removed because it was no longer bright. But I was still squinting. Do I need the sunglasses after all? Maybe I do.
Then it started raining. Then it stopped.
Today I helped cover the 18-month delayed BU commencement for the Class Of 2020 and that’s what the environment was like. It sort of matched my emotions. All over the place.
I dated a guy for a short while recently. We had a really great time when we were together, but when we were not he showed no sign of wanting things to go anywhere. Rather than simply tell me, or even text me something to the effect of This isn’t working for me or I’m not in a place where I can be in a relationship right now, he chose to ghost me (translation; disappear). A 46-year old man handled the situation, and my feelings, like a middle schooler.
I really liked him a lot and that’s rare for me. In the end his lack of action made me feel less-than. Not even worthy of a clarifying text. Not worthy of some honestly. I was of so little importance that simply disappearing was a fine way to handle it.
This all went down very recently and while I am fine, my stress level has been higher than normal with regular life things and that dating bruise still smarts. I feel lonely after so genuinely enjoying his company.
My work day started in the robing room. The robing room is the staging area (in this case, the gym), for the VIPs who will sit on the platform for the commencement ceremony.
As I wandered the gym I was reminded how I have grown relationships with these people. I am familiar to them at the very least. I catch-up with Rev Hill from Marsh Chapel. He tells me he has to teach a very early class tomorrow morning, and I plant the seed in him that he should stick it on his TA. When Willis Wang sees me, he comes in for a hug “I feel like we’re friends now!” he tells me. And I agree with him and happily hug him back. I got to know him and his family a bit while recently doing a story about his exceptional son, Ethan. In fact, the last time I was with the Willis family, they found out I was going on a fifth (and as it would turn out, final) date with the previously mentioned guy and were very excited for me, even following up to ask how it went. (“We had a great time, but ultimately it’s not going to work. Know any single men?”)
They are lovely, kind people. The types of people who help you regain some faith in others.
At some point I heard “Cydney!” The voice was coming from the dean of Sargent College. He asked me about a photo that ran recently of the new Data Science building, which is currently under construction. “I wondered where you were when you shot it!” he said. We talked about it at length. I just wasn’t sure which photo he meant and I asked if he was sure it was mine. “Oh yeah, I always look for your byline!” he said. Now, he never said the photo was exceptional, and if you look at a byline over and over, you do remember a person’s name, but hearing him call me by name and talking to me about my work made me feel seen and valued.
Friends and loved ones see us, and we see them, so I am not lacking there. But there is something different about people who are not related to you stopping to say something nice and appreciating what you do.
It made me feel so grateful. And I felt like I had worth. And I needed that boost considering how my worth felt diminished recently.
I headed to the field where commencement was taking place, and commencement, well, commenced. I wandered the field looking to capture moments with the students on the field. At some point well into the ceremony, I heard my name called and I laughed at myself for taking a minute to place the beautiful faces of Katie and Emme; two graduates who had returned for the ceremony and were part of the story about their dance team which I did years ago. They beamed at me, and I congratulated them for graduating. And I felt joyous that the dancers from that story still smile and say hello to me even years after we worked together.
The commencement speaker worked in the healthcare field, and his speech was great. When he brought up COVID and the inequities it brought to the surface around the world, I felt an intense sadness. Right after feeling the joy of seeing those students.
So, yeah, feelings all over the place.
Commencement concluded and the grads were joined by family and friends on the field, and we photographers continued to wander around looking for moments to capture. A student approached me in her bright red robe “Do you have an instagram account?” she asked.
“Yes!” I told her, “It’s @CydScottPhoto !”
“That’s what I thought! I just wanted to tell you how much I love your work. I’ve been following your page for years and every time you post, I just love it. You capture such great moments…” and she went on and on and I made sure she knew how much her kind gesture of saying something to me meant to me. I tried not to cry from gratitude. From being seen. Again!
Eventually I left the field and as I walked back to my office, I heard my name called again. This time it was the dean of the College of Fine Arts, who caught up to me and chatted with me as we walked together. He told me he’d seen the story about Ethan in BU Today that I’d shot the photos for and we both agreed that he is the type of person who when struck with tragedy, thought “What now?” and not “Why me?”
I don’t remember a time when I felt seen by so many people in one day. It’s like the universe knew I needed it or something.
I hope you feel seen today, too.