I was told by last year’s scholarship winner that she received a phone call the evening of her interview to announce that she had won.
I went to bed last night around 9:00. I had my phone beside me just in case. I woke up at six this morning with no registry of missed calls on my cell phone.
Or my home phone.
The reality is likely that I will not be traveling overseas this summer to study creative writing at Oxford or Edinburg. I will not be packing my big suitcase and leaving lots of room for sweatshirts for college day at my high school.
I will not deny that I spent most of this morning weeping. Most of the time, I kept it quiet, just let the tears slide down my face and fall into the weave of my t-shirt. The Girl was with me and we watched silly television and I tried to keep her from seeing my sadness.
Moms are meant to catch and comfort the sadness. Daughters are not meant to comfort.
But the Girl would see the sadness and she brought me my favorite lime popsicles which have replaced my beloved hard apple ciders and the television show changed from Emerald City to Bob’s Burgers and I quietly wept through most of that as well.
I didn’t realize how badly I wanted this scholarship until yesterday morning when I arrived at the interview site and nervously stood outside the glass paned doors, staring at the panel who would soon chat and laugh with me.
I dreamt about long summer evenings in England, about going to class in a world described as “Hogwarts.”
But, given that the interview was over twenty-four hours ago and the only phone calls I received were from family, I am certain that the adventure is over.
Or, at least on pause.
Because England will not disappear just because I will not go there this summer. And creative writing classes will still be held even if I do not grace the halls and write poetry and stories and novels (oh my!).
My county will pay a certain amount towards college classes. And I have several universities within thirty miles of my home that offer creative writing. No, they might not be as prestigious as Oxford or the University of Edinburg. But that doesn’t mean I still won’t learn. I will not be earning a diploma. I don’t want a diploma. I want to learn. I want to improve my editing. So, this fall, I will take a creative writing class and chase this dream even harder and will love the result even more because I will have truly earned it by my own efforts.
And England? Four years, I will go there. This summer, I will pack my hiking rucksack as opposed to my suitcase and I will go up and down as much of the Appalachian Trail as I can. And then I might go even further. Then, next summer, I will pack my suitcase and go home to Germany. Mom has promised me that we will go to Rome, and the Girl and I will sit by the Spanish Steps and eat Italian ice cream and talk about the adventures there.
Summer 2019? I don’t know. Maybe a trip out west. Maybe more hiking on the AT. Maybe I will be on book tour because I chase dreams with a butterfly net that has wide enough holes to let some opportunities slide away. But I still chase and I eventually capture the moment and I exult in my achievement. I am not done with writing. I am not done with traveling. I just will have to do it at my own expense.
But summer 2020? I am running west again, crossing the great ocean and I will go to London and will go to Shakespeare’s Globe. I will see plays and I will go to the Tate Gallery and see “The Lady of Shalott.” I will go to the London Tower and imagine the final moments of Anne Boleyn. I will go to Harrogate where I was born and I will stand at the moors and see my birthplace once more.
Life is temporary and, fortunately for me, so is grief. I will admit to mourning this morning (no pun intended). And then, the grief waned. I will likely receive a “thank you for applying” letter later this week. And I will likely grieve again.
This summer, two fortunate recipients will ride on airplanes and travel over time and hemispheres and will land in glorious locations. They will learn and will glean and will bring this knowledge back to their students. I have traveled before. I grew up in Germany.
I will travel again. I have amazing walking feet. And amazing fingers for dribbling out words and letting them live.
Now, where’s my net? It’s time to start running.