By the time I woke up on Saturday morning my husband, Forehead, had already left to judge a band contest in another part of the state. I got up, got dressed in frumpy yet comfortable clothes, ate a small breakfast, and sat at the dining room table to make one last pass of all my study materials.
I was going in to take the Praxis exam for Speech Language Pathology, the national licensing exam. For three years I’d sat in this same chair, at this same table, working on projects, papers, assignments, exams, study sessions and my master’s thesis. After the most ridiculous, exhausting, exhilarating and amazing three year roller coaster, things were finally winding down. There was a time when I never would have imagined accomplishing all of the things I did while I was a student here. Now we were all making plans, handing out resumes, scouting out new cities, new adventures and getting ready to scatter to the four winds. The last item on this list made me sad; I’d liked all the girls in my graduate class very much.
This time last year, I’d downloaded a countdown app to my iPad Mini to commencement, down to the very second my husband would give the downbeat for Pomp and Circumstance and we would enter the arena in our graduation regalia. Now it had wound down to less than a month.
Classwork had been completed; comps had been passed, the master’s thesis (which, God help me, had even been submitted to ASHA for consideration for presentation at national conference) had been printed and handed in, the first rotation was complete and the second one wasn’t far behind. The announcements were stacked on my desk. And the way things were looking, I wasn’t going to have to be worried about being unemployed come fall.
There was only one thing left standing in my way. This damn Praxis exam.
I’d prepared as well as I could and that combined with the perfect balance of anxiety medication gave me a pretty good sense of confidence. I just wanted to be done. I wanted to get on with my life. I wanted this out from over my head.
I scanned my aphasia chart, my outlines of the cranial nerves, the chart of developing speech sounds according to age. I flipped through the pages in my study book, but it was one of those things where I’d read the words so many times my eyes were just skipping over the words, like rocks on a pond.
I made a neat stack of all my study materials–hopefully I’d never have to open them again–and watched my confidence booster, Herb Brook’s pregame speech to his 1980 USA Olympic hockey team. “This….is YOUR time! Now go out there and take it!”
Unfortunately for me my car was in the shop so I had to call a Lyft, and while my driver was on the way I locked up the house and sat out on the front porch waiting for him to arrive. My dachshund and my cocker spaniel pressed their faces together at the window watching me get into the strange car and leave.
I arrive at the testing center, hand them my license, lock my purse up, sit down at the computer, take a deep breath…and go.
An hour later I review all the questions I’d marked and clicked continue. Now this is insidious. You have the choice to report your scores or throw them out, but you have to make that choice before they reveal the score to you. My stomach twists and I click report.
Are you sure? asks the screen.
FOR GOD’S SAKE REPORT THE SCORE
Immediately after I click report for the second time it pops up. 162 to pass. As long as it’s above a 162 I don’t care what it is.
And it’s 175. My eyes hit the number before it really registers, but then I read the page and yes, I’ve actually done it, I’ve passed. I actually start shaking in the testing center, my cheeks flush, and I have to put my forehead down on the desk and take some deep breaths. I’ve done it. I’ve passed the Praxis.
It’s really over.
I’ve done it.
I call a Lyft back home, crawl under the covers and sleep like the dead for the rest of the day.