Act As If


There is something that I want. I mean really bad. Or is it badly? No, it’s not badly because that would mean I was bad at wanting the thing. No, I want it bad. I can’t say what it is yet but I’m operating under the assumption that it’s going to happen. I have to; I want it that much. It’s within my grasp—actually our grasp because this is a family thing.

I remember when I decided I wanted to move to Seattle. It’s that kind of wanting. I was living in Philadelphia and had just split up with a boyfriend. It was the epitome of amicable as break-ups go. I was mid-twenties, ready for graduate school and our goals, once in sync, had diverged.  When I realized I wanted an MBA, I initially thought Temple University. It’s in Philly and it’s not Wharton. I didn’t think I could get in to Wharton let alone pay for it. And there was Chris to consider. But then I stopped considering Chris. We stopped considering each other. What did I want? It wasn’t Philly anymore, not for school and not for living. And I love Philly. My bones are steeped in Philly but I needed a change.

As I researched schools, I came up with a few. I can’t recall all of them. Penn State was my safety school but I didn’t want that either. Washington University in St. Louis appealed to me; it seemed a kinder, gentler MBA program if you will. One that stressed teamwork. One that was known to be financially sound, flush even. One that would likely give a lot of financial aid to a twenty-something financially independent marketing gopher with a BA in English. But the University of Washington, Seattle. That was my Promised Land. I was sold on the program and affordable tuition. And then there was the city, the long-term prospects, and strange how that came to be. I had never been to Seattle nor did I visit before I made my choice. I was convinced it was where I’d want to live. I felt it. I wasn’t interested in doing graduate work without putting down long-term roots at the same time. I was making two decisions in one. Where did I want to get my MBA and where did I want to live as a young adult, create community, make lasting friendships, get married someday. Seattle beckoned. And Seattle teased.

I got my rejections from some and acceptances from others far in advance of any word from Seattle. I got a generous aid package from Washington University in St. Louis. It would have been a good choice. But I wanted Seattle. And I still felt the University of Washington was the best place for me.  And I believe I did think it so. It was right. It felt right and true, so much so that I waited to accept anywhere else. I put off choosing, I pushed deadlines. Anyone who knows me at all knows this is atypical. I’m a “do it now” person, sometimes to a fault. But I waited. 

One early summer afternoon I came home from work to my tiny stinky little sublet on the University of Pennsylvania campus—when Chris and I split, my ability to pay for a nice apartment split too, and I was saving for grad school—it was May or June I think and the phone rang. If I had dawdled from Center City across the Spring Garden Street Bridge I’d have missed it.  It was the University of Washington calling and I was in. I’m sure it was a routine call for the Business School office, one of many made that day. But for me it was life changing. I can still hear that phone ringing. It was just a ringing phone. No ring tones or volume options, no cordless extension, just a brrring piercing the stuffy summer air. I can still feel myself walking across the creaky hardwood floor to a standard black corded phone, solid square base, beveled—it could double as a weapon if you clocked someone in the head just so—and I picked it up and it was the call. And that was 1991. Here I am today. Home in Seattle almost two decades later. Think it so. Act as if.


  1. heartwriter says:

    Love the reminder to Act As If…enjoyed learning some JK history.


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