I was trying to corral the kids into the kitchen for lunch when I heard the shuffle of heavy feet and the clank of metal on my front porch. I glanced out the front door window in time to see my mailman already trudging back down my walkway to his truck. A large manila envelope jutted conspicuously from my box.
I paid it little mind. There were kids ignoring me and grilled cheese burning; the yellow already darkening into a nice crisp brown that no one would eat but me. Removing it, I slid another slice of cheese onto a fresh piece of bread and placed it in the toaster. I had already used the skillet to make eggs this morning; there would be no buttery pan-fried grilled cheese until I did the dishes.
As I absently peeled and sliced apples, placing the scoffed at skin in my mouth, I wondered about the package. Had I ordered something from the Gap? Amazon? I couldn’t remember. I did order cookies, but that came in a box from UPS. What could it…
It was what I had been waiting for, for over a month. Only, I knew before even opening it that it wouldn’t be what I had hoped. The envelope was too thick. In fact, if it had been good news there wouldn’t be an envelope shoved in my mailbox at all. It would be a phone call.
I finished making the kids’ lunch; ignoring their whiny pleas for more milk and attention and anxiously retrieved the package. It held the weight of hundreds of pages of devotion and hard work, of many late nights and early mornings blissfully obsessed.
Normally, I’d leave the envelope on the dining room table and stare it down for a few hours; building up the negativity in my head, making it real, understanding it, while still somehow holding out the hope in my heart that it wasn’t true. That it was in fact just protocol to return a manuscript along with a glowing letter of acceptance.
Impulsively, I ripped open the package. Then, breathing deeply, I gave myself a minute to process.
It was exactly as I expected. Rejection.
I had a flashback of my younger self in the exact same position. Different house, less wrinkles, eyes wider, but yes, me, holding another heavy yellow envelope to the same unfortunate end.
I sighed with disappointment, and then sucked it in and up.
“Anyone want more grilled cheese?” I asked, returning to my real life; the noisy kitchen, the dishes in the sink. Who needs legitimacy and acceptance? Who needs dreams realized? I was needed right here and right now.
Three animated little faces completely ignored me.
I watched them chewing their sandwiches, talking over one another, my youngest practically standing on his chair in his inability to contain his energy. It was like I didn’t even exist.
It was too much.
“Who wants cookies?” I blurted out suddenly and all three faces snapped to attention.
“Cookies!” They chanted merrily and my youngest ran over to hug around my legs. My other boys joined in and soon we were one clump of bodies jumping gleefully.
Finally, I was feeling some love.
And it was a good thing because I was about to cry.