Once in a while, usually after at least one bottle of red wine, you get in one of those ‘let’s reflect on our lives before we get incoherent’ conversations. And someone asks ‘do you have any regrets?’ And you are supposed to say something like: Oh no no no, no regrets, life is a river on which we float while learning lessons and I don’t regret anything and blah blah something.’ Which is mostly how I feel. It’s of course true that each decision we make, big and small, leads to the next. A butterfly and the hurricane, a drop in the pond. I get it.
But some things, while I like where they led me, are a little less awesome. So if I’m honest, I can say that in some respects I regret getting my MSW. Being such a fan of learning, it does pain me to say that any form of education wasn’t worthwhile, but when I’m paying my student loans each month those pangs of the r-word really do hit hard. Maybe in a few years that piece of paper will come in handy, but so far it has mostly shown me what I don’t want to do instead of helping me narrow in on what I do want to do. And for that lesson, I think I overpaid. With interest.
The thing is, as much as I want to be able to list those two years as my regret, I can’t. Instead I consider my monthly loan payments as the fee I’m paying for two of the best friends I ever could have found. And for that privilege, I’m getting a bargain. A steal of a deal.
At the beginning of our MSW program we had some kind of orientation thing. I’m not really sure, I blocked it out. Point is, all the students were gathered in one place which was the perfect opportunity for me to scope out the new friend prospects. And let me just tell you, the pickings were slim. I’m not saying that I can for sure tell whether someone would be a good friend for me just from looking at them, that would be totally superficial and horrible! Discriminatory even! I wouldn’t dream of such a thing! Etc.
Let me just say this: Men with ponytails who are older than my dad generally don’t fit the bill. Anyone taking NOTES at a welcome orientation, not going to work. People who are dropping F-bombs or shedding tears as they tell me their life story 3 seconds after we met…no thanks.
So when I saw Bernadette and Raquel in that crowd I was like BINGO bitches, like it or not you are about to be my friends for at least 4 semesters. Longer if you’re lucky. They looked about as interested in this welcome wagon bullcrud as I was. They weren’t wearing pants up to their armpits or down past their bum crack. I think I saw Bernadette roll her eyes when someone mentioned ‘efficacy’ or ‘research methods’. Raquel had that look that says ‘when is the lunch and is that shit free?’ and a love affair began.
The next two years were roller coaster years in terms of life changes and soul-searching, but as Bernadette, Raquel and I became closer grad school became at least tolerable. We ruled that program like vaguely ethnic triplets with a love of cheap drinks and heavy sarcasm. Sometimes an awesome foursome was made when our girl Lua would join us and help us take things up a notch, most importantly by dubbing us ‘The Switchblade Sistas.’ It’s highly possible or even probable that people (or one certain professor in particular) found us really annoying, but we found ourselves awesome so it all worked out.
The thing about an intense, time-limited, insular situation like grad school (or a hockey season) is that it creates friendships based on shared experiences to help with survival. Which is great. But those friendships don’t always translate into ‘real’ life beyond the specific situation which brought you together. When we left grad school, we went separate ways. Raquel left the state. I left the country. Bernadette became a mother. Life kept happening, we kept changing, time went forward as it tends to do.
Six years after graduating, despite the best efforts of life circumstances to make us too busy to keep up, we are still friends. And in many ways, closer than ever. While grad school brought us together, it isn’t even really something we talk about now, and Raquel is the only one practicing social work (and kicking-ass, I might add).
Without these girls I’d probably need a therapist, adding another bill to the pile. Without these girls Vesper would need to find her own half-Chinese, half-Mexican feminist badass mothers to be role models. Those are NOT easy to find. Without these two I’d be sad more than I am and happy less often.
Regrets in life? I have none.