the calm before the storm

In two weeks, things are going to get a little crazy.

There will be jobs to search for (possibly) and boxes to pack (probably) and new mattresses to buy (definitely; I’d rather move to Baltimore than continue to sleep in our full-sized bed.)

Relatedly: if we have to move to Baltimore, I’m at least requesting a king. With a feathertop. That I can cry into every night as I endure the continuing realization that I live in Baltimore.

Also relatedly: Me? Dramatic? Never.

In case you haven’t gotten the gist yet, we’re staring in the face of a Big Change, made all the more frustrating and anxiety-provoking by the fact that it’s both mysterious and unknown and yet completely sure – on March 17, Dave will get an envelope giving him unquestionable, unarguable instructions on where to move for three years, so that his training as a doctor can begin.

My original plan, naturally, was to try to control the uncontrollable. As a born and bred control freak, I figured this little computer roulette would be no match for my neurotic tendencies: I’d simply insist we put two New York programs that Dave had a decent shot at up top, taking some of the guess work out of the process.

But, according to Dave, that took some of the fun out of the process too, as well as some of the chance that he’d end up with a solid career that could facilitate my Anthropologie shopping habit in the future and maybe even support a few kids. He’d gotten interviews at all these prestigious places; why rule them out automatically?, he pleaded. Why not just throw one up top and see what happens?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up ranking a Boston program numero uno.

At the time, it actually seemed like a fair deal to me. He’d rank his top choice – with its freezing winters and lack of friends and career options for me – first and then I’d get to choose the next two spots, which happened to be easier to get into.

And here’s the dirty little secret that convinced me to say “Bring on the Brigham!”: I honestly never thought he’d get in.

I know the kid is smart, and hard-working, and worshipped by his grandparents. But last time I checked, they weren’t the ones making admissions decisions for Harvard’s hospital system. In fact, last time I checked, the most recent admit to Dave’s residency program of choice from his medical school had Dave’s scores, and Dave’s grades, with the small catch that he was super good looking and super black.

Good luck, sweetie! You put your first choice right up top! I said, smirking to myself.

Even my mother acknowledged my plan was brilliant. This way, he’ll be happy when he ends up at Cornell, she said. He’ll know he wasn’t missing out on anything. He won’t have residual anger toward you. Win!

So we clicked ‘certify’ and sent the little list off into the oblivion of the Internet. And then a few more facts started coming to light.

First, that Dave had had a few professors and administrators make some calls on his behalf. OK, I reasoned, I hadn’t totally remembered that lobbying the program I felt conflicted, at best, about was part of the plan, but whatevs. How much damage could it do?

And then Dave got an email from the top-ranked internal medicine program in the country telling him he was one of their top picks and would be guaranteed a spot there if he decided he was interested in attending.

That one threw me for a loop. Because if that little school in Baltimore wants Dave, there’s probably at least a sliver of a possibility the Boston one isn’t going to turn up their nose at him.

I tossed and turned and freaked out and cried and screamed and cried some more and did extensive Mediabistro searches on job listings in Boston. And then I just kind of took a deep breath and calmed the fuck down. Because there’s not really much else to do right now.

Match is a double-edged sword like that. All the things that make it so hard and scary also make it strangely comforting too, if you let them. After all: there’s nothing for me to do. There are no boxes to pack yet. There are no jobs to search for. There might be mattresses to buy, but it’s probably better to wait for the inevitable Memorial Day sales.

Right now, everything is possible. In two weeks, that sense of possibility will be firmly slammed shut, replaced with just one name in an envelope. But today, it’s all blank slate and open air. So I’m left with only one path forward: embrace the unknown, trust in fate, bury myself in denial – whatever you want to call it. Either way, it should be the most carefree 14 days of my life.


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