A year ago last week, I moved to Florida. I wore the amulet of Job around my neck, was visited by plagues of locusts first, then boils. I'd just seen my entire adult life thrown into cardboard boxes, fumigated, stored. I rolled one suitcase deep.
I made it a month before I flew back up the eastern seaboard—no money, no apartment, no job, no plan. Turns out, that was the best decision I have ever made. For four months I did little more than work a little, write a lot, and bend myself to mindful pretzels on the yoga mat. In December, I met Jack. He was there for every postmark of my application envelopes, there helping me make line edits at the eleventh hour. And then he stuck around. Cue the most magical winter of my life.
Then the discs went, and, really, that was hard. Still is. But, turns out, I meant more to him than dancing, and so I scarred my forearms making rhubarb pie.
He left in June. I'd been accepted then, been to the admittees' reception, and taken out the 100k in loans. I kept my pedals to the metal and spent one too many summer evenings watching Netflix television from my single bed.
I went to Europe. Got lost in France, then found in Ireland. Somewhere in between, I saw Berlin. I wrote the front fifty pages of a mystery. Went heather picking with the man I love, then had to leave him there.
I flew back into Newark, and cried the whole way home from culture shock. I had three weeks to group my ducks together for their onward march. A list of unfortunate things occurred, in rapid succession, then were solved. I got booted from my humble closet sublet and forced to find myself an actual room.
I sit there now, typing to the Internet. I have a desk, a proper bed, even a closet in which to store my things (they no longer hang above me from the ceiling rail). My Jack came back; I met him at the airport with a little paper sign.
And tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow) I put my money where my mouth is. My first firstdayofschool since January 2002. I'm underqualified and thoroughly unorthodox, but here I come, Columbia, ready for that MFA.
Last week, under the rotunda, we were all convoked. I drank a plastic party cup of Chardonnay and mingled with the elbow-patched professors on the lawn. I purchased all twenty-four of this semester's books.
All that remains is waking up and getting on the train. I miss my mother—how she'd lay out all my clothes, then snap a picture of me trotting out the door. I was little then, and fatter, dwarfed slightly between bike helmet and clunky Buster Browns. I rode off on my banana seat like that about a dozen times, once for each new school.
The lunches, though, I packed myself.