I made the unfortunate mistake yesterday of drifting down into the rabbit’s hole that is the “Wife of a Doctor” blog scene. To be honest, I didn’t even know such a scene existed until an intriguingly-titled link popped up in my Google Reader – then poof, there I was, two hours later, reading about some wife of a first year med student in Texas who drilled her husband with flash cards before his big exam while he was sick in the bathroom. Say what? Like, I like Dave, but I don’t really want to be involved in anything that involves his vomit or his studying, let alone a combination of the two.
The whole genre seems eerily close to that of the Army Wife, with a few more Indians. And yet…even though Dave and I spent a solid half hour reading each other quotes from a Significant Others message board, even though I laughed and laughed and joked about how, um, different from me, these ladies seemed to be, the truth is that I’m envious of many of their characteristics: their empathy, their selflessness, their capacity for sacrifice. It made me wish – for both my sake and Dave’s – that maybe I could just not be so me all the time.
Instead of having trouble with Change and New Things, I could be open to cross-country moves and new settings. Instead of needing lots of friends! around all the time!, I could adjust to the solitude and simply learn to be satisfied with this boy I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with. Instead of craving an office and colleagues, I could relish in working from home, in my PJs, with my puppy, day in and day out. Instead of pursuing a career in an industry that’s dying a slow, painful, semi-embarrassing death, I could opt for one that’s lucrative, one that could actually support us when he’s in school. Instead of wanting a voice in this residency process, I could leave it all up to him, and just tag along, like obliging and supportive significant others do all. the. freaking. time.
I could do what’s practical, I could do what’s wife-ly. Except, of course, we’re not married yet. And I’m not that kind of girl.
For whatever reason, I just can’t keep my mouth shut on this one. I want him to do well in his career, I want him to do well in this match – but I want to do well too. With my career – and with my life.
I wish, all the time, that picking up and moving to Boston or Baltimore would be a tolerable experience for me. But I know myself. I know what the past six months have been like for me here, in this city I came to for him, this city I knew! And liked! And spent four years of college in! This city that still, still has come up short for me in its post-graduate incarnation.
On my good days, life here is just fine, with glimpses of the wonderful on occasion. But on my bad days, I feel like I’ve failed miserably, like this stint in Philadelphia was a trial, training wheels for our next move, a test that proved that I’m clearly not ready to be promoted to the two-wheeler. Instead, I have to go backwards. To New York.
This is where things get really hilarious. Because remember last year, when I swore, up and down, that the last thing I ever wanted to do was move two hours up the Eastern seaboard? Or maybe you recall in the spring, when I bad-mouthed a little University in upstate New York?
Well, um, yeah. My first choice residency program for Dave is currently none other than the Upper East Side’s Weil Cornell Medical Center. Hypocrisy at its finest, huh?
I haven’t totally changed my views on New York: I still think it has its anxiety-ridden, status-obsessed pockets and wonder how we’ll survive in a city so expensive. But the last few months have taught me a few things about what I need to be happy and successful as I round out my 20s. You know how they say it it takes a village to raise a child? I’m now convinced it will take that same village just to get me through my 26th year. I need friends and family close to me. I need job opportunities galore. (Do I finally have some vague notion of what I want to be when I grow up? Hell no. Do I want a place with oodles of options in the hopes of one day figuring out the answer to that pesky little question? Yes, please.)
And Cornell, well, I never thought I’d type these words but: Cornell has it all. It has a prime location on the Upper East side, away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy heart of the city but still super convenient to everything. It has a hospital with the patient population Dave’s looking for (no habla espanol…and clearly, neither do I.) And, it has housing! Four apartment buildings filled with people just like us, creating an instant sense of community (not that I’ll really need it in New York! with all my friends!) We won’t have to go through the rat race that is finding a Manhattan apartment on our own. We won’t have to pay market rent. Dave won’t have any commute, so we’ll get to see each other more. It’s…as perfect as something that’s still associated with upstate New York can be.
Of course, the second I was all, concrete jungle where dreams are made of!, Dave was like, you know what’s fun? Winters even more miserable than ours! People who pronounce water even more strangely than they do here! He’s still in favor of trekking up I-95, but now the kid doesn’t want to stop until he reaches Massachusetts. Ugh.
And suddenly the non-Spanish speakers find themselves in a situation that can only be described as “un problemo.”
Es un problemo grande, in my opinion, and to be honest, it’s not getting any better as the days until March 17 tick by. Every time we think we’ve come up with the magic combination (Columbia! Stanford! Penn! How many interviews did you go on again?) someone tells Dave he’ll just die if he doesn’t go to X School, or his career will be over if he ranks Y first. My own career aspirations ebb and flow according to a multitude of factors of varying legitimacy (the advice of the professional I’m networking with that day, an article in the Wall Street Journal, the changing tides, bird migration patterns, who the f knows), making for a very confused little birthday girl. This is not my best February on record, that’s for sure.
The advice from my mother, who has been through this before, was, at some point, just to throw up my hands and leave the whole thing to chance. Dave tells me that Columbia, too, is all about trusting in the match, playing by the rules – no phone calls or recruiting allowed. Of course, I’m still not the girl who radiates empathy and selflessness and sacrifice like all those other doctor wives, and I’m still not the girl that’s alright with risk and change and not knowing. But I figure if one of the country’s largest universities can put all its faith in a computer, I guess, just this once, I can try too.