I woke this morning to this message on my Facebook wall. “Any news?!?!”
It seemed like a sign – that it is time to speak my truth. To cast a light on my darkness and disappointment and (hopefully) watch it scatter like cockroaches.
I have not been accepted to the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.
I’ve known this for a little more than two weeks.
I’ve shared the news slowly. With a few friends. My ex-husband. My rabbi and other personal references.
But I haven’t been able to tell either of my parents. Post it on Facebook. Blog about it.
I’ve been transparent about so much in my life. My divorce. The failed romances that followed it. And the beautiful one that began the day after I bought my ticket to Madrid.
My struggles with weight. With alcohol. With making a life in a new country.
My breast reduction.
The death of my biological mother.
But this felt strangely tender and raw. Perhaps a little shameful. Disappointing and shocking because I really thought I was going.
Ever since my friend Spencer mentioned it to me while we were on holiday in Prague. When my spine straightened and my whole body screamed, “Yes! I have no idea what the Institute of Sacred Music is but, Yes!” When I suddenly “knew” (or thought I knew) why I had been called to Madrid. To meet Spencer and to have this conversation.
And the people around me…they thought I was bound for New Haven too.
They saw the way my face lit up, how my resonance changed when I spoke about combining my lifelong practices of writing and spirituality. How I felt like I was finally redeeming myself to myself. How the “smart girl” was finally going to “live up” to that moniker. And how I was going to give myself the gift I couldn’t until now – art school and graduate studies.
I felt confident about my personal statement and my writing sample, the glowing letters of recommendation.
“You’re going,” they said, as if they had seen the future in a crystal ball. And I believed them. Not because I wanted to. But because I thought it was already written.
Unfortunately, this was instead.
Dear Ms. Pearl:
The Admissions Committee of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music has reviewed your application with great care. I am sorry to inform you that your application has not been approved.
We recognize your dedication to the church and appreciate your great interest in the educational mission of the Institute. We send you our best wishes for success in realizing the goals expressed in your application.
Yale Institute of Sacred Music
“Clearly it wasn’t meant to be.” “It isn’t God’s will.” “Something better is around the corner.” “Fuck Yale.” “I know just how you feel.”
I’ve heard these words, spoken with love and compassion. And while I’m sure they are true, it’s been hard for me to accept them, to take them in. I’m just not “there” yet.
I’m certain I will one day look back and view this with gratitude and the “ahhhh” of understanding. But until then, and without faith on my part, the words feel somehow hollow, a little bit like platitudes.
Surprisingly, I’ve received the most comfort from the words, “I’m sorry.”
Perhaps because they speak to where I am at this moment.
Sorry. Yes. Me too.