You know how you work really hard and you keep working and you feel like the end is SOOOO far off, and you're just slogging through this super-long nightmare of cold and never-ending winter and painting and painting and painting and painting and no one is ever going to tell you, "Yep. You've arrived." You know?
If you can't tell, it's still the middle of winter, and the semester is in full swing, and this gets hard. Really, really hard.
So I walk into the GT art hallway and all my peers are milling around Perry's office, like they always do, like this:
and as I walk down to GT 413, my enormous Ogio backpack banging into everyone (it's not my fault! It's full of books and my laptop and my Wacom and my art supplies!) about three people in the hallway tell me Don's looking for me.
What? Why? What did I do? What did I forget to turn in? What did I inadvertently do to derail my graduation? What did I miss that's going to get me kicked out of the BFA program?
I go into GT413 and put down my stuff in Richard's class. Another person tells me Don is looking for me. Okay. I go up the ramp to Don's office. He's not there. I go out to the bathroom, take care of business, wash my hands, come back and sit down. Stewart comes in, "Hey, Alicia," (He never calls me Lee. He calls everyone by their full name, or adds something to their name to make it longer.) "Hey, Don's looking for you." Okay. Everyone knows Don is looking for me. No one knows why.
Then Don is there, "Lee," he says, in that quiet, world-possibly-ending, Don way. "I need to talk to you. Can you come with me?" Everyone's looking at me. I'm like, this has to be bad. It just looks so bad. I follow Don to his office. He gestures me into the big red chair. He hands me a letter.
The letter says that my piece, The Time Traveler, has been accepted into the Society of Illustrators Student Show exhibit and annual book and that it's eligible for a juried student scholarship contest. It will be shown in New York in May at the Museum of American Illustration.
You remember this painting?
So Don says, "Congratulations." And I start crying. And I tell Don, "I've been working really hard." And he says, "I know you have." And I'm thinking, You do? You know that? How do you know that? It still hasn't occurred to me that Don knows all, Don sees all. He says, "You're the only student from UVU featured this year." And that makes me cry more, because I know about a thousand artists better than me at UVU. He says, "I'm really proud of you." And then he hands me a box of Kleenex and tells me that I need to keep it together otherwise everyone will think he's been beating me up in his office. Then he walks me back out to Richard's class and they read the letter in front of everyone and everyone claps and congratulates me.
And it's like, Okay. Okay, I can keep going. I can really do this.