As you may have heard, if you live anywhere near people who speak, Saturday was the 400th/452nd anniversary of Shakespeare's death/birth. That's kind of a big deal for a person like me, whose first name is a character from Merchant and maiden name is a character from Macbeth (though a variant spelling) and married name is a character from Hamlet and who has two master's degrees in Shakespeare and who is trying to get a PhD in Shakespeare and who has eight copies of the complete works in her apartment and who lives in Shakespeareland and who basically eats, sleeps, and breathes Shakespeare all day, every day, for the last three years of her life. Shakespeare is my one true love, and that's a fact, Jack.
Saturday also happened to be the final day of coursework for my MFA degree, which means it was the last day Sweet Wag Shakespeare was an active company and the last day I could say with any certainty where any of my friends would be at a given moment. It feels appropriate that our drop-dead date was the same day as Shakespeare's drop-dead date. My heart is full and I feel complicated about both #Shakespeare400 and the end of the Wags.
Shakespeare, the man, is easier to deal with. I owe him for absolutely everything my life is and is not. He is both the reason I got married and the reason I'm getting divorced. He is my first love, my longest love, my one true love (apparently). He is responsible for my greatest professional triumphs and also my greatest failures. Above all, Shakespeare is home for me. I've been living and working here long enough to know that Shakespeare is but one bright star in the sky that is early modern English drama (1580-1642), and that there's so much else before, after. and around him that is magnificent, but Shakespeare is my home. He's the one I'll return to, again and again, when things are good, bad, or just okay. He's the one whose words cover my walls, my heart, my body, and my soul. Put simply, Shakespeare is the higher power that I believe in, and he has shaped me into the woman I am today. "The bright day is done and we are for the dark" got me through last spring; "be bloody, bold, and resolute" got me through this one.
The end of the Wags is harder to grapple with. Above all, I think I'm relieved. This year was a battle, and the last four weeks were basically hell. The work was never easy and often unpleasant, interpersonal relationships strained and broke, and I've come out the other side struggling to determine what I have to show for it besides another very expensive piece of paper. But I am also desperately sad to have to say goodbye to some of my forever friends. I never expected to be the one who got left—I always thought I'd be doing the leaving as well. This is hard, as life so often is.
Today was my first real day of post-MFA life. I got up at 6:00, did my three-mile loop of Staunton, did my push ups and my sit ups for the first time in months, got groceries, took my recycling out, dropped off my defense draft, cooked, applied for jobs, took another walk. Tomorrow I jump back into academia with my defense prep and article prep and PhD prep for round two, but I have the freedom to be disciplined with myself again. Up at 6:00, bed at 10:00, morning and evening walks. It's time to rebuild, refocus, and move forward.
The readiness is all. Let be.