I now work in a place where silence has settled into the
bedrock, seeped into the wood, and seamed solace like gossamer nestling into
the distance between exhale and inhale. The quiet is its own kind of beauty,
painted time that has been stilled. And
this, I am sure… is exactly where Grace resides.
As I sit here, waiting to finish the forms and filings of a
new hire, I study my new land. The smell soothes me, reminding me of every
Church I have ever loved.
It seems to me that this room should be called The Great
Room. Like the grand rooms of a lost era, the cavernous space a voluptuous call
A trio of couches create a pocket conversation corner in no way intruding on the secret rendezvous between the two chairs in front of the old stone fireplace. I am seated an echo away, at a dining room table—a bird’s eye view of the door, that is one open moment away from this new section of my path.
A conversation is taking place there, without break, an easy indication that I may be here awhile. I straighten the paperwork I have completed and paper clipped with my driver’s license and social security card. Smooth the table cloth, its mauve flowers melding with the ivory and sage of the room. I am starting to feel nervous and wonder if this is the right way to go. It will be more work and more time in addition to my other job. But it will be more money, too. My heart beats a little faster, the doubt creeps into my decisiveness, challenging the paperclip and the newly inked schedule in my planner.
Then I glance up, noticing the picture hanging above the table, for the first time. A path leading to a snow fed lake is lit by golden light, its rays lapping at the rocks and the forest, that hug its winding journey. A message —telling me that the diligent inking and paper clipping was confidence and surety, not avarice.
God has pushed away the darkness and shown me that I am
where I am supposed to be. The church bells start to ring, the reverberation slowing
I crack my new read and wait for the door to open.
I graduate from Come Back Kids Charter High School tonight. I started about 2 ½ years ago with an 8th grade education. Actually, that is a little misleading. I went to college first. I took the placement tests at Modesto Junior College and attained a little under (approx.) 100 units (I went a little crazy) and transferred to California State University Stanislaus . I’ve had a few setbacks which I won’t get into here. Those are stories for another day.
If any of you have seen the movie, Night School, you will
remember a scene from the beginning where Teddy, the main character, is looking
into getting his GED. He meets up with the night school teacher and she hands
him a text book and he looks at it astonished and tells her that he thought it
would be more pamphlet in size. Well, that sums up what I thought going to high
school was going to be like. Because, hey, I had already been to college. Piece
High School was hard. I did get some credit for my junior
college courses but only the remedial courses—the ones that didn’t count as
credit toward my University transfer. I had tested into Kindergarten math (not
really but close),so I had quite a few units I could use. However, as I had
tested into College level English I was in for the surprise of my life. I had
to take 4 years of English. And just for
It turns out, I love Marine Science and Economics. I am pretty sure I am graduating with all A’s*. Which is a first because I am a solid B student in college. That story isn’t over yet. We shall see how well I do on the rest of my academic journey as I go for my BS in Psychology with a minor in Political Science.
But I digress from my main point. Perhaps, I am trying to hide
my fear of vulnerability with stats– the minutia protecting me from this very
difficult subject. You see, I kept this a secret from almost everyone in my
life. There are a few people that know I was going to high school. And up to
now, no one other than this close group knew that I was slated to graduate. Because,
I felt such shame. I still do to some extent. There is a voice inside me that
reminds me that I should have gotten my shit together a long, long time ago.
However, there is a new voice that sounds suspiciously like Brene Brown’s. This new voice is telling that old voice to shut
up and sit the fuck down.
I am being brave announcing this to the world…or for the few
people that will read my blog—lol.
I went to college for me. To prove that I could do it. That I wasn’t dumb and to stop the lies. I had lied for so many years, to so many people, on so many job applications. I needed to prove to myself that I was smart. College taught me how to be consistent and to show up even on the bad days. Something you don’t learn when you are homeless and living from crisis to crisis. As I tell my kids, intelligence gets you only so far. You also need perseverance, diligence, integrity, and kindness.
If I thought College was hard, I had another thing coming.
High School was a pain in my ass. There were many, many late
nights after dinners, teaching, laundry… that I considered getting my GED. But,
I was never good at giving up. I AM good at procrastinating. I wish I wasn’t.
My 15-year-old daughter started calling me High School Mommy and it stuck. In fact, without Tyva, I couldn’t have done it. Our Homework Club, which included my son Constantine, would start right after they got home from school and on the weekends. We would post up in the living room, small tables under our books and devices, with the tv switched to the Hallmark Channel. Mysteries, Love Stories, Christmas Movies. We watched them all while we bent over our homework. Sometimes, we would sit out on the grass if the weather was fine. No matter, we did it together. What motivated me most was watching my daughter complete Honors courses in Middle School and this year, Pre-AP and AP courses. She had hours of homework. Hours. Yet, she pushed herself and is a straight A student. I think she is the most amazing person and when I grow up I want to be just like her. Constantine is just as diligent. His course load isn’t as strenuous as Tyva’s as of yet. In elementary school he was in GATE classes which were pretty difficult. Now that he is in junior high his has honors courses and they are no joke. Yet, he maintains good grades just like his sister. With them to look up to there was no way that I could allow myself to fail.
It took me awhile to understand that there was something else that pushed me to the starting line and that kept me going to the finish. I realized mid way through this part of my journey that it was my mother that was at the heart of what I wanted to accomplish.
Her name is Julie Anne
By the time my mother was 19 she had 3 kids. I was the first. She never went past 8th grade either. She died on August 12, 1990. She never got the chance to reach her goals or attain her dreams. I went to high school because my mother couldn’t. I am graduating for my Mom. She was an ass kicker despite the fact that life had never stopped kicking her ass—right up to the night she died in a horrible car accident.
My last conversation with her was a phone call. She had just written a new song and was beyond excited because she had finally gotten the courage to leave the abusive marriage that she was in. She was going to sell her songs. She was going to make something of herself. The next night she died. My next phone call was the one telling me that she was gone-forever. I hold tightly to the memory of the last time I spent with her. We were flying through the foothills in the fall. A sea of green flashed by my window as she played two songs over and over and over again. IF I Could Walk On Water by Eddie Money and If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher. I had never been to the mountains. I had never seen the house she had bought in Twain Harte with the money from her day care business. I remember the wind blowing her hair across her face. Hair just like mine. She would glance at me and smile. I wasn’t really listening to the words to the songs that she kept replaying. I was just looking at her. I hadn’t seen her in a very long time. It was a magical ride.
Today, I listened to the songs and paid attention to the
lyrics. I can’t stop crying. Because I can finally hear what she was trying to
say that day.