Mom, Do You Want to Hear the Bad or Good News First?

Submitted into Contest #155 in response to: Write about a character who gets good and bad news in quick succession — not necessarily in that order.... view prompt

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Creative Nonfiction Contemporary Coming of Age

Mom, do you want the good or bad news first?

At work, my cell phone rang. I picked up the receiver. It was my son, Jeff, a Ringling School of Arts and Design college student. He was about to complete the third year of his studies.

           "Hi, Mom. How are you?"

           "I am fine, and you?"

           "I have something to tell you. Do you want the good or bad news first?'

           "It does not matter." My heart skipped in anticipation of the impending doom.

"The bad news is that they kicked me out of college. But the good news is that I made into the finals for the Adobe Design Achievement Award."

"That is great about Adobe, but what will you do about college? Why did they expel you?"

"They expelled me for lack of participation and missing classes. But, Mom, don't worry. I will retake some classes at IRCC-Indian River Community College for credits and return to Ringling after that. I promise."

"I hope you mean it, and you will keep your promise. Now, tell me more about the Adobe Design Achievement Award."

"You would not believe it, but as usual, I procrastinated and almost forgot to enter the competition. A college professor reminded me about it on the last day of entry. I rushed to my dorm room and submitted my work in the Interactive Graphic Design category. I never thought I could be in the finals."

"Congratulations! I am so proud of you. I always believed in you and your talent. Way to go, Son!"

Before I hung up the phone, Jeff told me the award presentation would take place at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, New York, and that the committee offered to fly him and two family members to stay at The Mark Hotel. The ceremony will take place on July 21. Immediately, I told my son that I was coming.

           We flew to New York City, where we lived for seventeen years before moving to Florida. The Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue is in Central Park's vicinity and within walking distance of the Guggenheim Museum.

           Stepping inside The Mark Hotel's lobby, I was overwhelmed by its beauty. The hotel clerk gave us the keys to our room, which unlocked the door to a lavish suite. Everything was perfect. Our accommodations were comfortable, and the suite's interior design was tastefully done. The art on the walls was original. Each piece, expensively framed, was accompanied by a little lamp above. It reminded me of the exhibits I usually saw at a museum. I did not expect to be surrounded by such luxury and beauty. We stayed at The Mark for three days.

Even though I do not remember the exact floor number of the location of our suite, I knew it was high enough to observe a panoramic view of the city that never sleeps. It was amazing to see the spread of Manhattan down below. An unforgettable sight.

           On the evening of the check-in day, my son and I attended a reception held by Adobe Incorporated in honor of the finalists. The family members were invited as well. At the appointed hour, Jeff and I took down the elevator. Inside the room, the presenters greeted us. After the initial introductions, with a cocktail in my hand, I walked over to the less crowded area, allowing my son to mingle with the younger crowd.

           In 2005, Adobe Systems Incorporated held its fifth annual Adobe Design Achievement Award. This program honored talented students in graphic design, photography, animation, digital filmmaking, and computer artists worldwide. Over 1500 students from Canada, France, Austria, Australia, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States competed in its fierce annual competition in nine different design categories.

           Inside the room, I kept a low profile as I observed people's interactions. It was impressive to watch strangers become instant friends when they introduced themselves. My son was no exception. He fitted right in. Contented, I let him shine.

           I felt happy to be included in this celebration when a woman approached me. The lady must've felt sorry for me. She quickly said hello and introduced herself. It turned out that she was one of the event organizers and came here from California.

           "And how are you related to this occasion?" she asked in a friendly voice.

           “I am Mrs. Krichmar, Jeff Krichmar’s Mom.”

           "And who is Jeff Krichmar?" she asked.

I pointed at my son, standing not far away, talking to people. She linked her hand through mine, and together, we walked in Jeff’s direction. Arriving there, the committee member introduced herself to him, and in that instance, I knew instinctively that my son had won. I cannot describe my emotions after I excused myself to let them talk to each other.

The following day, Jeff went on a New York top studios tour, which was part of the awards program. He visited some of the twelve studios that opened their doors to allow students to meet with the principals and see firsthand how a professional workshop operates. The studios include C&G Partners LLC, GQ Magazine, Karlsson Wilker, Inc., MTV Networks Creative Services, Number Seventeen, O, The Oprah Magazine, Ogilvy & Mather Brand Integration Group, PAPER Magazine, Pentagram, R/GA, Two Twelve Associates, and VH-1. He came back excited, carrying little gifts in his hands.

The Adobe Design Achievement Award ceremony took place at the Guggenheim Museum on the third day of our stay. It was July 21, 2005, and my heart was filled with love and pride for my talented child.

Jeff invited his high school friend Lauren to attend. We met with her in front of the museum. Stepping inside, the spiral design of the staircase built in the shape of a nautilus shell along the inner circular walls of the museum and the skylight, the only source of illumination in the main gallery, took my breath away. The entire spacious atrium submerged in semidarkness accommodated the various electronic displays of exceptional work. Every presentation was strategically placed and tastefully organized. People from various countries stopped at each exhibit to look and comment.

It was amazing to see who is who in the design world, and even though I did not know the names of the attended celebrities, I learned quite a few were there. I could tell them apart from the rest of the attendees. Elegantly dressed, they looked prestigious and respectful as they huddled together in front of a particular display. They quietly talked to each other in hushed tones, looking and pointing at features. It was refreshing, intriguing, and fun. In my mind, I heard the words the lady from the reception told me. She compared this Adobe event to the Oscars of the Art World. Inside the Guggenheim Museum, it felt like I was attending a gala.

At first, Jeff and I mingled with the crowd. We looked at various pieces of excellent art presented by other students, but eventually, we stood in front of his display. He had to keep guard to explain his idea and the design concept to those interested.

During the exhibition, the waitresses navigated through the crowd to offer glasses of Champagne and Hors d'oeuvres for people to enjoy. When everyone had their fill of delicious drinks and appetizers, the announcers invited everyone inside the presentation room, which took place in the Peter B. Lewis Theater. Everyone went to their assigned seats. Jeff, Lauren, and I took ours in one of the front rows close to the stage.

At some point, the room suddenly became quiet, and the ceremony began. Various committee members gave short speeches on the substance of the category they were about to present. I listened in fascination, noting to myself the importance and the significance of what each award meant to the winner. It was an indication that only the best of the best, the talented of the talented, would be chosen. Their future was predestined and looked bright. They could now go into the world and shine.

A person from a different field presented the award to the winner with each speech. First, they read the names of the contenders and then announced the winner. Each announcer took his time to open the envelope, and then, after a short pause that aimed to tease the audience, he pronounced the recipient's name. At that moment, the room became still. A few seconds later, the audience held its breath only to explode with loud noises, laughter, and cheer upon hearing the recipient's name. It looked dramatic and reminded me of the familiar scenes I have seen hundreds of times on TV during the prestigious Emmys, Tonys, The Golden Globes, and other award ceremonies.

Finally, the time came to announce the winner in the Interactive Design category. I nervously waited, but when the name of my son, Jeff Krichmar, from Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, was called, my heart swelled with pride, and my eyes filled with tears. I watched my child proudly walk across the stage to accept the award.

Holding the shiny three-dimensional silver letter A in his hand, my son raised his arm, found me in the crowd, and smiled. It was an unforgettable moment forever sealed in the deep recesses of my mind. I was so grateful to Jeff for choosing me to be his mom. Deep in my soul, I knew I loved him unconditionally from the time of conception. I did not care that he sometimes did stupid things the twenty-year-old often does. But after giving life to him, when I saw his innocent face looking at me for the first time, I promised to be there for him, no matter what.  

So, when my son asks me if I want to hear the good or the bad news, my answer is simple – I want to listen to it all.

July 22, 2022 18:52

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1 comment

Yves. ♙
23:54 Aug 07, 2022

I love to see creative nonfiction on Reedsy! Thanks for sharing your story; it fits the prompt wonderfully well. Would that all parents could be as understanding as you!

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