As of today, officially, I hold an MA in English with TESL option. I don’t feel any different. I know it is a big step, a goal towards which I have worked mostly hard, sometimes lazily, sometimes two tears in a bucket, mother fuck it.
I was supposed to complete the MA program in December of last year. You all know why that didn’t happen, but here’s a recap for the new kids on the block:
- I separated from my husband in June of 2011, causing distraction, stress, and an unreliable internet connection. That semester I failed one course and got an A in the other.
- In Spring of 2012 I made the perhaps stupid decision to move to upstate NY and trust people I thought were my friends. That semester I dropped all three courses.
- Summer I of 2012 I took and passed my final required course but found out that FinAid required an additional course for the loan I needed to cover tuition…I ended up having to drop that second course in July due to the whole homeless and reuniting with my husband thing.
But today none of that was supposed to matter. Today my mother, two uncles, my husband, my two daughters, and my husband’s girlfriend were supposed to doll themselves up just as I had and sit in a semi-crowded coliseum to cheer me on as I walked across the staging area to receive and empty fancy folder that represented the degree which will later be mailed to me. Pomp and circumstance. Me in a sexy-as-hell purple and black dress and black heels with my cap and gown and master’s hood, makeup and perfume, my hair all done up…hey everyone look at me and my awesomeness.
Instead, I stayed up too late. I woke up too late. I got ready too late. I had an hour to be there for the processional line up. My husband wouldn’t get out of bed. He told me to go without him.
Really? Cause it makes sense to leave you behind but take your girlfriend? I get that she and I are supposed to be also part of this weirdness we’re calling a relationship and that she can be there for me for shit, but it was you I mostly wanted there. You. My husband.
He took his sweet ass time getting ready. He was in a foul mood. By the time I got to the venue, I was not only late to the professional, but the ceremony was already in progress. I missed my spot in the line up. I had to proceed last in line, behind the associate degree recipients. My hood wasn’t on straight. My eyes were watery. My smile wasn’t altogether genuine. One of my uncles missed seeing me cross cause he had gone to the bathroom after noticing my conspicuous absence among the MA recipients.
On the way to the venue, I drove eighty. Ten miles above the speed limit, even though I have had speeding tickets in the past and had left my driver license in the diaper bag that was in my uncle’s car with my children and my mother, all of whom got there before me. I passed a cop five miles before my exit. I didn’t hit the brakes. I turned off my cruise control and signaled for the nearest exit. I knew the back way to the campus, as time consuming as it would be, but it’d get me off the interstate. The cop didn’t follow. I was spared the possible ticket or jail time or whatever else. But that detour probably cost me the additional time that made me miss out on my proper space in line.
I know none of that matters. I know that I still have the MA. I know that I would still have it should I have chosen to just skip the ceremony. But it was important to me.
After the ceremony, we dined at a local favorite, Whatta-Burger (not to be confused with the similarly sounding popular fast-food chain). My mother helped me demonstrate my random psychic abilities by stating that whole “he who is last shall be first” stuff from the Bible that I had predicted she would mention. My husband said he was too ill to eat the cheese fries he ordered. My kids were cranky. The joint was packed to the brim, probably by people who had just been at the same place as us, and had seen my tardiness.
And How Does That Make You Feel?
After we got home, which took less time than it should have because apparently girlfriend shares the same affinity for speed as I, I tried to read alone in the room husband and I share (girlfriend moved to the guest room about a week ago) but ended up taking a nap. When I awoke around seven, husband was asleep on the couch and girlfriend was asleep in her room. Kids were making a mess of the living room and claiming they’d been starved. It wasn’t til after the dinner I served them and dirty diaper that prompted me to decide bath time was in order that husband got up off the couch. Turns out kids had been fed quite a bit already.
Never trust the word of an adorable five year old.
Husband went from the couch to the bed. Children were bathed and put to bed by me. I gulped down a bottled water, chatted with friends online, played stupid facebook games, listened to sad music on YouTube, and had a sneezing fit. For some reason I want to drink but know that I shouldn’t so I’m probably going to opt for more water or soda. For some reason I want to eat but know the leftovers from Long John Silver’s I ate earlier should be enough. For some reason I want to cry.
I know that come Monday I’ll start my training and preparation for the coming semester and the two courses I’ll be teaching. I know that no one really cares about me being late. I know that the audience were all more concerned with finding their own little Johnnies or Janes among the sea of similarly clad persons on the coliseum floor. I know that someone who takes a year and a half to finish something it could have taken a year to complete and then shows up late to the ceremony still has accomplished the same thing.
I just can’t help but hate myself for the habits I allowed myself to develop since early childhood. That little girl with the crooked yellow smile and the missing baby teeth who ran toward the bus with her backpack on her elbow, her shoes in her hands, her tangled hair flapping wildly behind her…she’s still chasing her dreams just a little bit later than she should. She’s always tardy. She never has a legitimate excuse.
I don’t want to be that little girl. I don’t want my little girls to think that’s the way you ought to be. I want my inner child to be waiting at the bus stop an hour early looking so spiffy that people assume I’m a millionaire.