So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.Christopher Reeve
I was a terrible student growing up. I ditched much of middle school. I had a bus pass, an annual membership to the L.A. Zoo, one to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a library card. I learned so much ditching school. I love learning; I’m just bad at being a student.
By high school, I was already determined to be a housewife someday. Two different career paths offered themselves when I was on the cusp of adulthood. One was an apprenticeship to an auto mechanic (though I would have to get some official education at the community college level to make a career out of it), and the other was working with developmentally disabled adults in a day program. They both appealed to me, but I picked the latter because it would do more to prepare me for motherhood.
In the end, I am quite good with kids and in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the job market for housewives doesn’t allow for much career mobility. If I live the rest of my life on my own, I need to get my ish together because no one else will take care of my business for me. If I’m going to live the rest of my life with a partner, I still need to get my ish together because anyone worth being in a relationship with deserves the best version of me I can be.
I went back to school in my 30s. It wasn’t easy. Thank goodness for Google and Starbucks. One answered my questions like, “how do people study?” and the other gave me a place to follow that advice without the man who was becoming my ex-husband being able to sabotage me. I took one class a semester for eight years to get my associate’s degree. It was painfully slow, but in the end, it actually worked. I was ready to transfer to a university when my youngest turned eighteen. Of the eight universities I applied to, only the CSU and UC in San Diego turned me down. That would be the two schools in the city where my Work Bestie lives.
When we were both completely single, I would write him long, rambling emails, explicitly telling him how I wanted him and why and telling him to “just take the compliment” and move on. I don’t date younger, or colleagues, and I wasn’t ready for anything serious with so much trauma to process from my marriage, and I don’t want anything superficial either. I’m all or nothing; in this case, it would be best to stick to nothing. I told him we were never going to be a thing, and I told him why I never ever wanted to be a thing. I also told him to visit me and go on adventures with me. After all, he was my Work Bestie; visits and adventures are what besties do.
After years of being the first person I told any news to, he was the last person I told when I accepted the admission offer from my dream school. There really was no choice even close to the benefits of going to Berkeley for me. It was the right thing to do if I was going to stick to my guns about becoming the best version of myself. It also meant moving 400 miles further away from my Work Bestie when the 100 miles between us was already almost too much to bear. I knew that if I moved away, we would meet other people and drift apart, but I was just as sure that if I didn’t, I would never be the partner I wanted to be someday, let alone the independent woman I needed to be.
Berkeley had been the last school to give me an answer. I was sure that they had rejected me so hard that they weren’t even going to be bothered with telling me so. I was never getting into my dream school. The night before they accepted me, I had gotten drunk and depressed and sent something despairing to the Work Bestie. He called me, and I cried and cried and cried, but he talked me off the ledge. He soothes me as no one else can. Not even he knows it, but I cried just as hard when I realized I was going to Berkeley. I wasn’t ready to move away from him.
There’s the way we may appearSuzanne Vega
But that will change from day to night
Would you ever see within?
Underneath the skin?
Could I believe you had that sight?
And so you go
No girl could say no
I’ll Never Be Your Maggie May