I lost a 4-unit class this semester because of low enrollment. Now I have seven units instead of eleven. I found out on a Friday, and that evening I was running errands, meeting Marylou and Richard for dinner. I remember riding my bike across the parking lot of Smoke Tree Commons, heading toward the wheelchair access by the bank that leads out to the sidewalk on Palm Canyon. I realized I felt like I had failed. All of my I’m-a-bad-person stuff was lit up. It broke all logic, brought tears, fifteen seconds of agony. I was tender with myself, the asphalt blurring beneath my feet on the pedals. I knew it wasn’t true. I’d done nothing wrong. I knew I’d be okay. I even knew there was a gift in this, both seen and hidden blessings, more time, more room, an unseen chance waiting, wings not yet unfurled.
But it still hurt, scared me, made me vulnerable. It was a big loss, a slash, the universe mocking me, my perfect semester, my best in ten years of teaching, now in shreds. I cried for a few minutes that night when I got home, and Sable butted his head against my chin again and again, pacing back and forth beside me on the bed. Saturday was easier. Maybe it was the yoga in the park. I felt buoyed by my belief in the rightness of things, my trust in the universe. Then Sunday morning the cats refuse to eat their breakfast, and I want to throw their bowls across the kitchen, purple glass smashing into the wall. I want to shriek at them. I don’t. I write instead, railing at the universe. It feels like being four years old, standing in the hallway, screaming “I hate you!” at my mother. It feels that wrong. Still, I want to kick, scabbing my shins, to scrabble fingernails across wood, shrieking until I am hoarse.
I want to be the kind of person who can say, “Oh my. Look at that.” I want to be the kind of person who can marvel at losing almost 40% of my income for the semester, at what it might mean. “I wonder what the universe has in store for me?” I want to smile when I say that. I want to trust fully, to relish the promise about to unfold. I am not there yet. But maybe I am close. Maybe I am in between who I am becoming and who I was. Maybe the fact that I was not able to work up a good tantrum is a funny sign of progress, only another stride or two to close the gap between my selves. Maybe I am closing it now even as I write. Because I did cry a little more when I railed against the universe on the page, and I feel better now. I can notice the sparrows in the yard, feel the cooling shade on my upper arms, my left foot asleep on the edge of the wooden chair before me. It comes to me that this semester may still be my best ever. Why would I think otherwise only because it isn’t the shape I planned? I smile, sheepish, and wonder what magic might be waiting.