Sunday, November 19, 2006

31 days

My MFA application is due in 31 days.

I have a letter of recommendation sitting in a sealed envelope from George Saunders sitting on my dining room table.

I have a 25 page story that I'm trying to make some sense of.

I have thoughts of a statement of purpose.

But the biggest thing I have is memories, because where all of this started, the true quest for an MFA and the trip to Belize where I met George and Charlie, was with my grandma's death.

My grandparents had a lot of money because they lived simply. They travelled, they volunteered, they went to ceramics classes.

They also shelled out thousands of dollars to my aunt and cousins who approached them at least once a year with greedy hands outstretched, begging for money. When they asked, my grandparents gave. $5,000, $10,000, at a pop. My mom told my grandma once on the phone that it wasn't really fair, that if she was giving money to one she should give to all. That just because I was living my life responsibly and within my means didn't mean that I should get "shorted." My grandma said "All she needs to do is ask." My mom told her, correctly, "Kelly will never ask you for a cent."

And I didn't. I got into massive trouble with my credit cards in college, big time debt, and I asked my parents for help, but never Grandma and Grandpa. They gave me so much when I was growing up. They took me on trips every summer and bought me anything I wanted. They gave me pictures, memories, card games to play with my own kids and grandkids someday, and time alone when I needed it.

When my grandma died, my grandpa settled their estate and gave everything to my mom, my aunt, my cousins and me. Without that money, I would not have gone to Belize. I won't be able to afford to go again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, which is why I went balls-to-the-wall and saturated myself with every possible experience. I felt like my grandma was paying by the minute for me to have this time there.

Knowing now that while I was there I was building relationships that will help me now with my dream, to get my MFA and move out of teaching high school and into the next stage of life, means that I used Grandma's money for the exact right purpose, as an investment in my future. She would be so proud of me. She wouldn't understand it exactly, it's hard to explain writing and MFA programs to non-writers, but she would trust me and she would say that if it made me happy that I spent the money exactly like she wanted me to.

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