Part of me sometimes wonders if I’ve lost my mind. You might think I’ve lost my mind too when I tell you what I’m doing.
I’ve sat in a quiet daze on more than one occasion since I got the letter from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I wasn’t expecting to get in at all. On more than one occasion I wondered why I’d applied in the first place. Off and on, I’ve been applying to graduate school since 2002. Nonetheless, with three letters of recommendation in hand, I sent off an application to UBC’s MFA in creative writing program late last year.
In late February, I got a letter from them indicating I’d been wait-listed, and I thought, “Well, that’s that.”
Then I got the second letter.
Ever since then, I’ve been oscillating wildly between giddy excitement and dead cold terror. Am I shooting my career (such as it is) in the foot by taking off now and pursuing an advanced degree? Am I too old for graduate school?
Am I good enough?
Add to that the difficulty of being so far away from Mike for protracted periods of time. Yes, I’ll be home for Christmas and summer, and Mike will come up to visit me at least once a semester (he’s already planned his first trip), but in between there’ll be long stretches where we’ll have to make do with phone calls, email, and Skype. Granted, not too long ago we wouldn’t have had all of that. Still, it won’t be easy.
Nothing worthwhile ever is. Easy, I mean.
(Let’s not even talk about my beautiful, faithful companion of the last eleven years, who’s loping into his twilight years with a bit of arthritis and doddering absentmindedness and shut up he’s going to live forever.)
When I told my parents (because even at this age, I still have a desire for their approval; they’ve kept me from driving off the cliff on more than one occasion, after all), my dad said he could always picture me as a teacher. I think knowledge is at its best when it’s nurtured and shared, so I see his point. I’ll be a teaching assistant this spring. That’s daunting on a whole ‘nother level.
A writer I respect said, “An MFA program is a place you really meet yourself as a writer.” I’m wondering how that person will be different from the writer I am now. Ask me the same question in two years, and I have a feeling my answer will change.
More than anything, that’s what I’m really looking forward to: two years where I’m putting writing front and center.
So, hi. I’m a student again.