“What are you doing, Rachel?”
She’s caught me, again. Mom peers into my room and sees me Skyping my boyfriend for the second time that day.
“You’re not getting anything done,” she says.
She’s right. I wrap up the conversation, go on my brother’s laptop, and apply to three jobs. Then, for the hundredth time, I read the guidelines for applying to Iowa’s MFA creative writing program. 80 pages of prose by December. I can do that. Then I download an app for studying for the Massachusetts driving permit test. Once I get the permit, I can brush up on my driving skills – shouldn’t be hard – get my license and, if I decide to stay here with my family, get a car.
This is rural Massachusetts, a lot of forests and old clapboard houses, with strip malls, bars, and diners separated by highways. I hostess at the local bar & grill where 39-year-old waitresses serve buffalo wings to men who used to be their bus drivers in middle school. It’s the kind of place where women in jerseys and flip-flops sit at the bar to watch the football game. The cooks are all Albanian and they blow kisses at the runners and blast Albanian rap music. I always look forward to going to work.
In the mornings, I read a certain passage from the Bible. If I keep at this every day, I will have read the whole thing in one year.
I’ve eaten Pop-Tarts every morning ever since I came here. I forgot how good they are. I laugh to myself when I remember my Slovakian housemates in Wales trying to heat them up on the frying pan.
It’s easy to think of university – of living in Britain – as a distant dream. Very little of this place reminds me of it. I guess that’s good. Keep looking forward.
I love the sunshine here. I love being able to write. I love how Mom lets me drink her good wine every night. But I miss having friends. If I lived in a city, maybe it would be easier to meet people. I don’t know.
Option 1: get a job somewhere else, maybe in New York or Chicago, and live independently. I think I would like that.
Option 2: save money on rent and stay with the fam, keep working, maybe get a 9 to 5 job nearby, apply for grad school – overall, stay here.
I ask Dad, “Would you rather I be smart or happy?”
“Happy,” he says.
I know what the smart option is but will it make me happy?
I know what I’ll do. I’ll apply for both. Masters and jobs. Let fate decide. I don’t have a plan. Are you kidding me? I don’t have a plan.
It’s okay, though. God does.
P.S. Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I got the best present I could ask for. After work on Tuesday, I came home to find a giant wrapped box in my foyer. I opened it and out popped one of my best friends from Chicago!!! I started crying. Best birthday ever!