It is hard to believe, O Best Beloved, that tomorrow afternoon I will put on cap and gown and drape my green velvet hood (satin flashing is crimson and white) over my arm and walk in to receive my diploma, my M.D. I hope it's in there. As of yesterday afternoon I was calling frantically to make sure my third and final Level 3 Competency had been approved.
It is hard to believe and yet it is not hard to believe. After all, my entire adult life has been directed toward this moment, this culmination. I have been in school, every year, without fail, for two decades in order to achieve this. The surreality of reaching a goal that it seems most people never even consider is something that strikes me in this moment, and the unreality of it will not be shattered until I am sitting in the auditorium, shifting from side to side on an uncomfortable chair, learning how much that much-desired triple-chevronned robe is going to bloody itch.
Reality, after all, is like that.
When we went to the house after closing on Thursday, I roamed freely through it. The previous owners left us their telephone number, in case of questions (they lived there 20 years and raised 4 children there); I will have a few I'm certain. But as I opened the garage door to look inside, I saw three heads peering over a car next door. Next-door neighbors - friendly and very nice from the outset, they changed at my response to the ritual question.
"What brings you out to $city, then?"
"I'm starting residency with $residency in July."
Eyes widened. "John! Come meet her! She's going to be a doctor!" And so on. In an instant, O Best Beloved - in a single word - things are transformed.
I am twenty-six years old, married, no children, young and idealistic and enthusiastic. Two cats. All of these statements make me someone in the eyes of my neighbors; "the young couple" we will be in this established neighborhood where people have children my age. But when I say I'm going to be a doctor I become an equal, no longer reminiscent of someone's daughter, someone to be respected and admired. And to the everyday people, the ones who don't know that family medicine scrapes the bottom of the barrel, to those people I am a family doctor and that is even better.
Isn't it a good thing that I have extraordinary stories to tell as well as the ordinary ones? You understand, O Best Beloved, you have been with me this time, learned how extraordinary the human creature is in its most mundane moments. But they do not - not yet.
Family Medicine residency is three years; I am on the rural track for the duration. There is a fourth-year Primary Care OB fellowship at this institution that I am eyeing covetously already. I will be rotating through everything a good family doctor needs to know - which is, as you know by now, everything.
This is your invitation, O Best Beloved, to come along for the ride. Bring your own snacks and sodas and be warned: this may be at times less a guided tour and more of an interactive maelström - but you've been there before with me and I've made it through thus far.
And won't it be exciting?