Column: The thin grey envelopeLast week I raided the mailbox daily, rifling through the flyers and coupons at lightning speed. I was searching for an envelope with the return address of my top choice for graduate school.
By: Mary Lebens, The Farmington Independent
Last week I raided the mailbox daily, rifling through the flyers and coupons at lightning speed. I was searching for an envelope with the return address of my top choice for graduate school. After months of waiting, the time is finally here to find out where I’ll spend the next four years working on a doctoral degree. Around five o’clock on Monday, after a long day of work, I thumbed through the stack and found a thin, grey envelope with the familiar school logo.
When I applied for master’s degree programs, all of my acceptance letters for graduate school came inside of flat yellow envelopes stuffed with full-color flyers explaining the degree requirements, the cafeteria plans and how to sign up for financial aid. Only the rejection letters came in thin regular envelopes. I set down the rest of the mail, and pulled the letter opener out of the kitchen drawer. My dog waited at my feet, looking up expectantly.
I slit the envelope and pulled out the single sheet. I unfolded it with a heavy heart. And then I saw the word “Congratulations.” I was accepted.
I let out a whoop. The dog thought that meant I wanted to play with him, so he went into full-on play mode, running loops between the couch and the kitchen counter. He grabbed a plush bone and started shaking it. I thought, “Tonight would be a good night to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and celebrate.”
For the first few days, it didn’t seem real. After months spent memorizing geometry theorems for the graduate record exam and writing application essays, living in a haze of uncertainty, it didn’t seem possible that I finally knew for sure that I was accepted. Even after the on-campus interview a big cloud of doubt fogged my hope. But now I suddenly know where I will be spending the next four years, what I’ll be doing, what I will be working on. All of the uncertainty that swirled around me crystallized into a sure path.
Now that I’ve written the check for my tuition deposit, updated my Facebook status and gotten my class schedule, things are starting to feel a bit more real. One of my co-workers suggested I go back-to-school shopping and pick out a few new outfits. Since the co-worker who made this comment is a computer science professor, I took it as a straightforward suggestion and not a backhanded remark on my fashion sense. I could use a sweatshirt with my new school logo on it. This might be a good excuse to do a little electronics shopping too, and maybe get a new USB drive. I’ve had my eye on one shaped like a tiny version of the Starship Enterprise. (Now that probably says more about my fashion sense than anything my coworkers would say.)
While relaxing on the couch with my tablet PC last night, I watched an old episode of the show Dawson’s Creek. If you haven’t seen this show before, it’s a little bit like Beverly Hills 90210, but none of the characters have cool cars and all of their clothes are uniformly purchased at American Eagle. (American Eagle is even listed as the wardrobe provider in the credits. Every single guy in the show wears a long-sleeve shirt with a single stripe across the chest in every episode. There must have been an overstock of those in 1998.) In last night’s episode one of the thirty-something actors playing a high school student is accepted to Harvard. In a dramatic flourish, she tears open the letter in the middle of the school library and waves it over her head. As hokey as Dawson’s Creek is, the writers got one detail right. The acceptance letter from Harvard came in a thin, grey envelope.