May 20, 2011
The day I graduated from high-school is a day I will never forget.
The celebration starts at 12am when I and my class of 2011 arrive at the main entrance of “Ivan Vazov” High School of Mathematics and Science in Dimitrovgrad (Bulgaria) carried by two 12-seated minibuses. I have to say a few students arrive in a carriage pulled by a horse. As usual, the school principle holds a lengthy speech, gives awards for achievements in different fields and salutes all high-school graduates. Each of the four classes of 2011 has the chance to present itself to the people attending the event (students and parents). All graduates shake hands with the faculty members who have been their teachers for the last four years. I remember the words of my philosophy teacher Mr. Todorov, “Vladi, I wish you luck on your way to success; I wish you fulfill the goals you have in mind and I am absolutely certain you can do that.” Then, we hear the school bell ringing and attend classes for the last time in our high-school education. The form teacher of my class invites us in a classroom where we see a presentation about our four happy years at high school.
What follows next is the thing I am writing this memory because of. I haven’t experienced anything like it and I am thankful I had the chance to be part of it. I hope you are imaginative enough to get a picture of what I am talking about.
Me and my class get on a big orange lorry with a carriage large enough to accomodate us (27 people). The truck departs and I hear yells, cheer, whistles blowing and “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, wooooooooooooooooooooow”, meaning we have completed the grades from one to twelve. I’m absolutely excited because I could sense the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and begin to celebrate the fact that I will continue my education abroad.
The truck with its 27 students in the rear moves slowly through the two neighborhoods of Dimitrovgrad city. It’s fascinating to see streets and people from such an open elevated pespective. I see many people while the truck follows its route. I mostly take notice of the way they react upon seeing a big lorry full of students waving hands in the rear. Some pretend not to see the truck and hear the yells; others get surprised at the view; third, smile and wave their hands as if remembering the time they were graduates; fourth, seem annoyed by our undertaking and frown; fifth, genuinely consider us crazy. A lot of drivers blow the horns of their cars while passing the lorry and many pedestrians make pictures or videos. While still in the truck I am certain this moment shouldn’t be forgotten and decide to write it down when I return home. And I do it.
At some point in our journey through the city a policeman stops the truck and orders every student to get off. The yells cease. Then I realize the danger of traveling at the back of a truck – if the truck changes its speed abruptly, someone might fall of the carriage. The officer’s face looks firm and slightly angry. I say to myself, “Well, if this is the end of it, fine! I am extremely happy of what I experienced so far.” The classmate of mine who arranged the lorry gets off to talk to the policeman. Ivan Zlatev, whose father is or used to be, I am not sure, a powerful figure in the city’s police station, explains to the officer that no one is drunk and that the carriage is too deep for one to fall off.
What? The officer allows us to continue. For the first time in my life I feel happy I live in Bulgaria, because I assume that the officer made a compromise since Ivan Zlatev’s father is an authority with a lot of contacts and I am not sure if such compromises happen in other countries.
We continue our journey through Dimitrovgrad. My excitement reaches a new level. I start to feel like the Pope because of the way he travels in a special vehicle and waves to crowds of Catholics. I realize the difference between me and the Pope, and become even happier – I do not have to fear someone aiming a gun at me.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, WOOOW!”
At some point I begin to feel uneasiness in my cheeks. I realize I haven’t smiling for a long time; my mouth craves water, too. But the journey hasn’t concluded yet, I feel obliged to continue to fuel the euphoria with some more yells.