maybe 30 is the new 20
(or at least 25).
maybe the sun shines everyday
maybe a nap is all we really need
maybe he comes
maybe he doesn’t.
maybe you forget when you
you make yourself a home
within the walls of your own
a cup of tea and
curl up in the valley
of your thighs.
“i’ve never felt better”
and this time
you believe her.
It’s July 15th. Over half-way through 2015, and I can’t help but reflect on words I came across today in a slim navy notebook wedged between books next to my bed:
“2015 feels good, like slipping into new shoes that feel broken in somehow. like crisp morning air when you’re dressed appropriately and can appreciate it. this is going to be my year. this is my year.”
don’t forget it.
I circle back around to residency and flirt with being a doctor the same way you do an ex-boyfriend. When things are good you could care less. But the moment you hit a rough patch of bad blind dates and lonely nights in with Netflix, you wonder what could have been if you had stayed. One day you’ll see him having brunch with someone new, laughing and enjoying each other’s company; a glimpse of what once was. What could have been.
It’s easy to forget the downsides when you want to overlook them. When there are dollar signs and prestige at the end of the rainbow.
Many of my friends will be entering their last year of residency soon, well on their way to being full-fledged doctors. I cannot imagine the things they have learned or the pains it took to learn them, but I am jealous of them just the same. It’s the sister life I could have had, staring me in the face.
Around this time two years ago (two!) I remember googling the words, “quitting residency.” I wanted someone to tell me that it would be ok. I wanted a role model with a success story that I could hold up to my family, friends, and myself.
I never found one.
Not one I identified with, anyway. I was no Michael Crichton or William Carlos Williams. I didn’t have any interest in business school or equity research. I had done that thing so many poets and motivational speakers urge people to do – I had forged my own path. And it was/is terrifying.
So…I’m doing the work. To become my own success story.
It’s still a work in progress. It’s not at all glamorous. And I have a new definition of success. I don’t know where I’ll end up or how many times I’ll get it wrong before I get it right. But I will own every decision I make.
Because we should all be writing our own stories.
Lately, I can’t stop thinking about something my mom told me last year.
We were driving from one end of California to the other, to see my uncle for what would be the last time. Her hands were on the steering wheel, and I was looking past her out the window. The sun was setting over parched farmland, coloring everything in amber honey and blinding us as we drove.
My thrice-divorced, recently remarried** mother was telling me about her prayer group. A weekly hour of husband-bashing and despair-sharing around a coffee table with cut fruit and hot tea – the korean housewife equivalent of a book club. She told me how these women shared similar frustrations and sometimes even alarming concerns about their relationships. It was their safe place to contemplate divorce and silently judge each other.
“I’m still a part of this prayer group,” she told me, her eyes fixed straight ahead at the semi rumbling three car spaces ahead of us. Ever since a string of traffic violations and a revoked license in the 90s, my mom is a very cautious driver.
She turned her head quickly towards me, though, as she said, “All those women are still married.” Her tattooed eyebrows arched into upside down v’s, her face a mixture of astonishment and unacknowledged shame. Out of all those women, after all those hours of shared confidences and aired grievances, she was the only one who had actually divorced her husband.
I know her intent in telling me that story. Her plea for me to stay. To stick it out – even though she hadn’t. Because it doesn’t feel nice to be the only one in the group who leaves. Because one can hope that rough starts and middles can have a happy ending. Because everything is clearer in hindsight.
I asked her if she regretted it now, all these years later. Did she regret leaving my father?
She responded swiftly, without skipped beats or room for questions,
*I’ve never seen We Are the Millers, but apparently that’s a thing.
**I hate that someone’s life can be reduced to a few choice words.