I’m unemployed. I’m in debt. I’m at least 20 pounds overweight. My arms and face are covered in small wounds. My future is uncertain…at best.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
I’m in my senior year at UC Berkeley and I’m unemployed because I’ve been able to finance school and living expenses primarily through scholarships. I’m in debt because I’ve been fortunate enough to only have to take advantage of a small amount of federal loans to help with school so far. I’m 20 pounds overweight because my life, during each semester, consists of riding my bike 7 miles round-trip to school and then spending the next 4-8 hours snacking on crap foods while I study or write essays. As I write this, I watch the blood flow from the back of my right hand from yet another bite from the rescue kitten we took in a little over two months ago. My future is uncertain because I’ve been blessed with the potential opportunity to stay at Cal an extra year and prep for grad schools. I’m planning on pursuing an MFA in creative writing at any number of schools across the country.
I share this journey with a woman of unparalleled patience and tenacity. My partner has supported my transformation to reentry college student with gusto; she herself has recently entered a Masters degree program.
I want to write. This semester, I’ve taken several courses that have actually given me the tools to do so. I am incredibly blessed to be in a class taught by a world-renowned author who is endlessly generous and encouraging. I was able to “write-in” to a class taught by Joyce Carol Oates next spring, and although I won’t be taking her class because of logistical issues, the fact that she awarded me one of only 15 spots in her class, based solely upon my work of fiction fills me endlessly with hope.
I am a fifty-seven-year-old work in progress. I’m petulant, I rant, I get scared, I get angry. But eventually life corrects my course through a series of incidents that reminds me how damn lucky I am.
On the morning of November 8th of this year, I awoke to a series of news alerts describing a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. My hometown. The location of the shooting was a bar that I knew very well, on a night on which I also knew my 22-year-old son frequented. After frantically confirming the well being of both of my children who still live in T.O., I began to unexpectedly sob as I woke my girlfriend to tell her of the news.
And two weeks later, my eyes are still filled with tears as I count my lucky stars that my son wasn’t killed.
A lot of tough stuff has happened to me in my life…things that other people have remarked that they weren’t sure they could have survived.
On this Thanksgiving day, a day that has come to take on a depressingly sad meaning for me in light of my studies of American history, I want to celebrate my life. My extreme gratitude for the things I haven’t lost:
My mouthy kitten
Most of all, I’m grateful to be writing this. I’m grateful for another day on Earth where I get to “be.”
Thank you to whatever force/spirit/entity/wavelength that protected my children that night. That has protected me through some rough waters.
Thank you for my life.