Deciding On Oxford

This week I found out that I’m going to the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford University. What the actual hell.

I feel like I’m being handed both of my dreams, holding them with trembling hands, filled with a sense of wild exhilaration and heavy responsibility, hoping I don’t drop them, hoping they don’t get taken away. 

But there is also a deep right-ness to this. Despite the wobbly excitement and the terrifying risk, it’s good, it’s right, it’s time.

Last Wednesday, I heard my phone beep to alert me of an incoming call, but I ignored it because I was in the middle of a phone meeting. When I hung up, I had missed a call and voicemail from New York, New York.

I died.

Of course I called back immediately and of course there was no answer. So I left a voicemail and waited.

The next afternoon, whilst pushing my grocery buggy through Neighborhood Wal-Mart, I got another call from New York. I died again. It was the director of the Columbia Publishing Course congratulating me on my admission to the course and informing me that, because of my high ratings, I was able to choose whether I wanted to attend the program in New York City or Oxford, UK. 

If one can thrice die, then I did.

I pushed my cart in circles around the chips aisle twenty times, aimlessly wandering, excitedly chattering. Thankfully, the CPC director isn’t like the typical New Yorker, or at least the typical New Yorker I had in my mind. She’s nice, with a quirky personality. She even laughed a little, showing warmth and care and alongside her polished, but casual professionalism. And if the pictures on the Internet are accurate, she is a quintessential middle-aged professor-type, which is, of course, perfect. I was thrilled.

A deep, settled feeling of satisfaction, pride, and relief spread across my chest. I was in. I was actually in. It didn’t mean my future was settled, or that I was even guaranteed a job, but it was a step. A big step. A massive opportunity to study at an Ivy League level, with real life experience and education, and a network of peers and professionals that will be vital for the rest of my career.

I called my parents immediately to tell them the news, and the call dropped 4 times. Freaking Wal-Mart. After I checked out, I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot for a while, making phone calls and sharing the news with friends.

Ultimately, I decided on Oxford. Its focus is solely book publishing, it’s a smaller class, it’s in the fall, and it’s Oxford. The biggest drawback is not being able to be in NYC right away or get acclimated to the city ahead of time. Now, I’ll be heading to NYC after Oxford with very little prior knowledge, connections, or anything. Realistically, my first month after the course might be full of hotel rooms, Airbnbs, couchsurfing, networking, and applying my ass out of every job I can find. But I’m up for it. I think being in Oxford will be good, because it’ll make me stay focused on the experience and not be distracted by the future. I’ll be able to be all there.

So now I have four months left in Tyler, and I’m soaking in everything that’s easy: simple relationships with a deep & wide community, an environment where talking about Jesus is encouraged, an apartment complex that is full of friends within walking distance, a job where I can work from an office or work from my bed, a car that gets me where I need to go, an income that is small but reliable, expenses that have become familiar and routine, going home to visit my family 2.5 hours away, weekdays at the Foundry and Strada, weekends at the library and the brewery, extra money and time to travel. All of this is about to change, and though I’ll miss what I have here, I’m ready for what’s next.

It’s ironically perfect that my word of the year is “faith.”

I chose it because I felt like I would be making lots of decisions this year that required faith. And dammit if that hasn’t turned out to be truer than expected.

Don’t look now, but I might just get addicted to this “faith” thing, the way adrenaline junkies keep throwing themselves off of cliffs and out of airplanes. Could they die or be horribly injured? Yes. Could they have the most fun, exhilarating experience of their entire life? Yes. That’s how I feel right now. Standing at the edge of a cliff about to jump, not knowing how or where I will land. But trusting that the Lord will control my landing. All I have to do is jump and enjoy the thrill of flying.

Elizabeth Moore