I had a really tough time falling asleep the other night, which is funny because just an hour before my head hit the pillow I was at Shakespeare’s drinking a pint with my writing group and telling Juliana how, in the midst of March madness (i.e. waiting to hear from grad schools), I haven’t had one bit of trouble sleeping—not one little bit.
But that’s Murphy’s Law, or the “knock on wood” principle, or whatever you want to call it. I should have rapt my knuckles on the table after I said it, but I didn’t, so laying in bed with eyes more popped open than when I’m actually up and awake, was to be my fate for the night.
All sorts of things were crawling through my head—the three gigantic scorpions from my dreams the night before were making a second guest appearance. According to Anna, my psychic co-worker in the cubicle next to me at the Globe, probably represent the three schools I didn’t get into.
“Anna, what,” I had asked in between calls, “Do scorpions represent in dreams?”
Anna leaned back in her chair and shook her head quickly. “No, no, not the way it works,” she said in her English, John Cleese-like accent.” “It’s not as if they stand for something—it all depends on what they mean to you.”
This answer did not satisfy me.
Anna poked her head back around the wall. “So what do they mean to you then?”
“What, scorpions?” I asked. “I’m afraid of them. I don’t want them in my room.”
I had to laugh and think to myself, ‘Isn’t that obvious?’
“How many schools did you say you didn’t get into?” Anna asked.
Not seeing the connection, I answered, “Three.”
Anna nodded her head, smiled knowingly, and began dialing another call. “Those are your scorpions.” And then, her psychic abilities kicking in, she concluded, “They won’t bother you anymore.”
In a way Anna was right because the very next day, after attending Blake and Raphaelle’s wedding ceremony and reception in Balboa Park (tres chic), I had a missed call on my phone with a number I didn’t recognize. The person on the other line turned out to be a woman from The Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University, informing me I had been accepted into their nonfiction writing program, and I cried. Before the voicemail was even over I cried, and laughed, and messed up my hair, and tripped on a planter.
This news was, by far, the best news I had received in months. Even better than when I found out I was going to Thailand for a travel story, or when I remembered I would in fact be receiving a tax return. I guess I really wanted to get in if my immediate reaction was tears, laughter, and loss of motor skills.
So when, the next day I had another voicemail on my phone my heart skipped a beat. Another school, perhaps? (There are six more after all.) But no, instead it was my father.
“Rachel,” he said. I could hear the smile.
“I’m going to play a guessing game with you. I have a little red thing in my hand…”
Now normally I would have rolled my eyes and said get on with it already, but my life as of late has been defined by anticipation. Anticipating the contents of the mailbox on a daily basis—are the letters “normal sized, your writing is shit, go away” or “packaged, we love you more than words can express and please come join our community sized?” Anticipating any missed calls with unknown area codes—damn those telemarketers. Anticipating, with gusto, each and every time I sign onto gmail. Since when did college start informing by email? How impersonal, and in many cases quite confusing, can you get? For example, I received an email a week ago from The New School (one of my top choices), thanking me for my interest in the program and would I please visit their website. What the hell is that about? Don’t these people remember who I am? They have a copy of my social, my tax return, and a list of my innermost hopes and dreams. Would I please go and visit their website??
So anyway, I was up for a guessing game.
“It’s red, and from her Royal Majesty…” dad continued on the voicemail.
“…of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…”
Oh my god.
“…Rachel Marie Hurn…”
“A citizen of the European Union.”
Screw the scorpions. I’m European.