15 April 2015. Three days before I graduate with my Associate of Arts degree.
I'm walking to my program director's office for the second time in ten minutes. In my hand is a single pink sheet of paper. Across the top of it are the words Program Declaration/Transfer Form. Beneath those words, in my handwriting, are my name and the date -- my sister's birthday. Below that are the words Current Program and New Program. In those fields, in my handwriting, are the words AA Music and BA Music, respectively.
And I am taking this sheet of paper, which may or may not determine the next two years of my life, to my program director for his signature, which I know he will give... he's the one who's been pressing me to take this step for the past month and a half and who, five minutes before, directed me to get this piece of paper from the academic office.
I knock, and enter.
"I'm back." I hold out the paper.
He bids me wait a moment and finishes with the computer. I stand back from the screen -- he's doing grades; he told me this when I was here five minutes ago. Then he rolls his chair closer, takes the paper and signs it. Twice -- once as the director of the AA Music and once as the director of the BA Music. He hands it back.
"There you go. Take it back up. They'll open registration for you and they'll fill in a program sheet for you and email it to you and me."
I'm aware that my face is pale. My heart is racing. What am I doing? But I manage a nod. He's already made it clear that I'm not actually committing to anything yet and can still decide not to come back. But perhaps he sees my terror at my own volition for he says it again.
"You can always decide not to come back if things don't work out. But I want you to come back. Keep me posted through the summer. Shoot me an email."
I thank him, leave, and take the paper back up to the academic office.
One full year passed -- summer, fall, winter, spring. A second summer hurtled by. By mid-August it was clear that the money would not be there to return for this degree, this program on the pink paper, and so I began packing my schedule to the brim with dance classes in Alberta. I was pulling from three different schools, working around theatre rehearsals and the few auditions I could scrounge up online, practicing on my own, working my actual job every second I could in between.
29 August 2016. Three days before registration day at the college -- a day I know I cannot attend. I have come to peace (at least a bit) with the fact that I am about to forfeit my Bachelor's degree and two years of musical theatre training due to lack of funds.
I go to visit a friend of mine from church. We talk about what's new and the college comes up.
"About that..." she says. "I contacted a few people I know. They have collectively contributed two thousand dollars and there is one person who is willing to loan you the difference."
Never before have I experienced the feeling that I'm dreaming when I'm not. But I am now. I sit, studying her face, utterly lost for words. So thoroughly had I despaired of ever going back again that to have it sitting in front of me, within my grasp, seems incongruent.
This just does not happen. Not to me.
Years in the church, hearing the stories of missionaries and laypeople and pastors having miraculous answers to prayer, financially, have still not prepared me for the idea that that could happen to me. I have always been the punching bag on the outside looking into grace. Miracles don't happen to me.
Every thought I had had all day disappeared from my head. She was asking me about my week and I could barely string together a sentence. I had literally forty-eight hours to notify everyone, pack, and move out-of-province. But we did. My family rallied around me and saw me out the door on my first solo flight to the middle of nowhere on the second.
And that's (the condensed version of) how I ended up back in Saskatchewan this semester.