My principal asked me to apply for a scholarship to study either Oxford, England or the University of Edinburgh.
For two months, I deliberated. I didn’t feel worthy of such a nomination.
I didn’t feel like I was allowed to leave my family for a month.
I was going to miss the peak of hiking season.
I made phone calls. I asked the Owl Singer, my beloved hiking partner, if she was okay with me altering our plans. She told me she would be furious with me if I didn’t chase this dream.
I asked my Beloved if I was being selfish in going. He fussed at me for even considering it. He reminded me of how much this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
He put the butterfly net in my hands and told me to run.
At every doubt, God put someone there to shove me in the direction of the application.
So I sent it in. And waited for the “Thank you for applying” response. The whole, “although you are a worthy candidate, your application will not go further in the application process.”
Something along those lines.
Instead, two weeks ago, I received notice that I was a finalist. That I was to have an interview today.
Dreams exploded in my head. Dreams of going to Shakespeare’s Globe theater and touching the stage. Dreams of being in a workshop setting and having fresh eyes reading my novel, my poetry. Dreams of collecting stories and logging them into my blog or into my journal or into my memories and creating whole new lessons for my students.
Dreams of riding on the train and writing. Sitting in gardens and writing. Sitting in the corner of the world and writing.
I had my interview today. I thought I was ready. I thought about the questions I would be asked and practiced. I have been talking to imaginary panels in my car for the last two weeks. People likely think I’m insane, that I’m responding to the voices in my head.
I did my best. I did my absolute best. And now, I am waiting. Waiting for a phone call or a letter. A response of some kind to let me know if I should pack my bags or pack my dreams.
If I receive a “no,” I will not stop dreaming. I will merely channel them in a different way. I will continue writing. I just won’t be writing in another hemisphere. I’ll be writing on top of a mountain in the middle of Virginia.
I truly did my best, but I wasn’t ready to talk about my novel or my poetry chap book. I was ready to talk about writing with my students, about bringing this wealth of knowledge back to my students and giving them more insight into the writing process, the editing process, literary analysis. Anything. Everything.
Waiting for this phone call is like picking apart each and every shred of my self confidence and scrutinizing each and every molecule.
Did I say the right thing? Was I authentic enough?
The leader of the committee has been reading my blog. Hopefully, I assume that he will read this blog sometime soon and know that I am so grateful just to have the validation of my writing and my teaching career. Even if I receive the No, I am still grateful.
But what I have found that in the last eight hours of frayed hope and mounting doubt that I still have faith, that my faith will not stop. Each time I thought about receiving the No phone call and graciously accepting that reality, I prayed. For strength, for guidance, for the little bit of hope that still wants to grow beyond the embryonic stage.
I thanked God for this opportunity, for this incredible moment of beautiful peace when I sat in a museum’s library and laughed and chatted with people who treasure the written word, who love learning as much as I do.
I talked about walking through Dachau. I talked about going back to England when I was seven. I talked about my students, including Jonathan who stopped talking and then started talking and changed my life.
I talked about researching apathy.
In the thirty minutes that I spent with the panel, I could see that my career has not been a list of nothings, a long train of I could have’s.
I have had an incredibly rich career, a wonderful two decades in the classroom. I have done so much more than what I thought I was capable of doing. I entered teaching to pay for my writing career. I love teaching, though, because of my students, because of the literature I teach, because of the people with whom I work. I love what I do when laughter is the common denominator, when understanding is fostered as opposed to ignorance.
I am still waiting for a phone call, a letter, an email. My stomach is a knot of doubt and hope and nerves and peace.
In the end, though, I have faith. I have my eternal Yes. God has given me a place here on Earth, a place where I belong, a purpose to fulfill.
The stepping stones to Heaven might be a murky right now. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go this summer, where His path is going to lead me. But, for now, I’m where I need to be.