A little more than 18 years ago I was working in a bakery, churning out pies when the call came. After 26 hours of labor, my best friend Maryann had given birth to her first child.
A bouncing baby girl named Barbara Jo.
In B.J.'s toddler years, I would proudly tell anybody who'd listen that the J stood for Jo, her mom had named her after me, in a way.
As I and Maryann gear up for our 20th class reunion, we'll be celebrating B.J.'s high school commencement.
A lot's changed since I and her mom went to school.
There were no threats of violence at school, except an occasional exchange of fisticuffs over stupid things like, oh, members of the opposite sex.
We didn't know what gangs were, we'd never heard of them. The concept was inconceivable to us.
Graffiti wasn't random or on people's houses. It was stupid stunts on public places, like bridges or large, highly visible rocks and it was either the year of a graduating class or one student professing his love for another.
There were no such things as cell phones or the Internet. Pedophiles couldn't mask themselves behind a cyber image to lure children or naive, lovestruck teens.
If we made contact with our high school counselor, we were in trouble. Nowadays, counselors meet regularly with students, trying to help them plan a course for the future or to act as a sounding board for any number of troubles the teen may be experiencing.
Sex education was taught in the 10th grade, not fifth.
We only had to sweat the SATs. Now, they sweat that and the WASL.
B.J. the graduate is a far cry from Lynda Jo the graduate.
B.J. knows she wants to work in radiology, has been accepted to college and has secured a good summer job at the WSU Research Center.
I was a dreamer, an 80's flower child, of sorts. I wanted to be an actress or a rock star. I really thought I could do anything.
By the time I was 19, I was baking pies in Seattle for minimum wage and couldn't settle on a career of choice.
B.J.'s more practical, just like her mom. She's got her future all mapped out.
And it all begins come May 31 when she graduates from Prosser High School.