In a fit of near-graduation panic, I applied to a couple of MFA programs during the winter break of my senior year. Much to my surprise, the program chair of one of the schools called to tell me I had been accepted. I was walking up a grand staircase in the Treasury building on the way back to my desk after lunch, and after I hung up, I slumped down on those steps in the rather dramatic way that only interns can pull off.
My mom went out to Idaho with me a few weeks later, and I got to meet that professor and loads of other writing students. At dinner in Spokane, my mom and I talked about our lives, and my parent's marriage, and what it means to be successful and fall in love. There was something I couldn't put my finger on, but I knew that this school, which had lentil fields that stretched on for long miles beyond the campus, wasn't for me.
One week later, I met Peter.
I do not regret passing up graduate school, but there are times when I long for the body of work that I surely would have produced as a student. I wrote this post during a time when I was feeling some of that angst. So many of you seemed to interpret it as happy and sweet, but I felt antsy and a little stuck - searching for the lofty and astonishing.
I turned to google in my time of need (don't we all?), in search of some kind of writing contest that would make me feel like I could produce material any time I wanted. I found that the Chicken Soup for the Soul series was accepting submissions for an upcoming books on weddings and engagements. I whipped something up, sent it off, and promptly forgot about it. More than a year later, they wrote to let me know that my little essay had made the cut.
And today, I came home to a giant box from the publisher - the very publisher that I used to work for in New York. It was a terrible job for me. It made me weepy and irritable. There were times when I had so many knots in my back, I felt like I couldn't fully fill my lungs with air. I left after just a year.
MFA or not, I think my professional life would have followed a similar trajectory. I would have wanted to try traditional publishing, and then I would have returned to international development, and ultimately I would try to figure out a way to marry the two. I am still working that out. But if I had done that MFA program in Idaho, I would not be married to Peter. And it turns out that he is the key element - the very best part - of my lofty and astonishing life.
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As you can see, I have been gifted with quite a few copies of this book. If you would like one - for yourself or someone you know who is recently engaged or planning a wedding - I would be absolutely delighted to send a copy along! Email me at fresh.basil.blog AT gmail.com.