I've been thinking a lot about how to write about rejection, about how to pose it, not as whining or self-pity, about how to escape the embarrasment of saying aloud that someone has judged your work and said no and thank you together in one sentence. But it seemed so silly to post on Facebook a photo of hopeful me with fingers crossed and lipstick retouched and then leave the sentence of that anticipation trailing off into nothing. I didn't get it. It is perfectly OK.
And it was just fine that I was sad. That night after getting the email, I told E that I wasn't chosen. Here's where the real story set in.
"Well, I would have chosen you," he said cheerfully, "...of EVERYONE."
I hugged him. For tonight, I explained, I was disappointted. It had capped off a long and stressful day of completely unrelated but seemingly compounded stuff.
"It was a long day," I added."I didn't really want it to end like this."
He was in his jammies. The pants are short at the ankle and the shirt is nearly always mismatched. An appliqued gorilla pounded on his chest and pilly skulls were scattered over his legs. He looked up at me and I bent toward him.
"Well, the day is not over yet." His smile was crooked. He pulled me in and hugged me hard.
"There," he added after a moment wrapped around me. "It is ending like that."
Why was I stopping at the no? Why was I so willing to let the evening of sad feelings close out the show?
We've shared some intense moments of fear and bravery and disappointment in the last year, that kid and me. He's heard me say before that sometimes hearing no is more important than a lot of yes. Now it was my turn. I'd tried. It didn't work. It's OK. Perfectly OK. There's is nothing to shy away from in that.
OK, so there was some whining and self-pity and embarrassment. But also the opportunity to feel the sad and then put it away. Right then,the gorilla in the room was a skinny, eight-year old with a chest full of heart. And he pulled me in to remind me that it's not the end until we choose to say goodnight. It's not the curtain until you embrace your mama backstage.