When I defended my PhD, a lot of friends came to my defense seminar. We sat under the benevolent eye of Thomas Jefferson in UVA’s gorgeous Rotunda as I condensed 4 years and 3 months of sweat, blood (I got bit by a mouse once, there was blood), and tears into a 60 minute presentation. Every time I surveyed the room, I saw smiles. I felt warmth and love and support. At the end of my presentation, I had a few slides full of pictures of those very friends who had walked right alongside me during those years. I wanted to tell them – ok, embarrass them – how much their encouragements had meant to me. Later on, I hosted a party and had a picture of myself taken with every single friend who came. I named the album “It takes a village to get a PhD.”
Today is March 15. The Ides of March. Today is Match Day. In a couple of hours, I will find out where I will be doing my residency training – one these 6 places. I will open a little white envelope in the company of 150 classmates and squeal and laugh and cry. I still have a month-long rotation in the hospital, but in essence this is it, before graduation later in May and starting residency sometime in June.
“Bask in today. I’m right here to squeeze the shit out of your hand!” My darling friend C, who works a crazy busy job, took time out of her day to sent me this text from her GMT+5 location. That’s love. Many sweet friends have emailed and texted and sent their well-wishes, all accompanied by multiple “!!!”. That’s love. So has my PhD mentor and other Faculty members from my former department. That’s love. And dear friends from the theater, too. And last but not least, my parents, who, at the conclusion of a 90 min Skype session yesterday, told me very solemnly: “we can’t wait to find out where we’ll be vacationing next.” Yep. That’s my parents. I love them so much.
Last night I went to see the show I am currently producing. I hadn’t seen it since Opening Night almost 2 weeks ago and I figured my brain needed the distraction – even though the show is all about medicine and doctors and patients. At the top of Act 2, the house lights went down but the intermission lights did not. No blackout to mark the start of the scene. I fretted in my seat. After some time the actors came on stage and, like any professional would, started the scene. I rushed to the light board, colliding on the way with our stage manager. “The light board is frozen,” our light board operator told us in a panicked low voice. At that point the actors were in half light, but going all the same and I could see many audience members looking back at us and up at the ceiling – eyes on the stage, people! Thankfully a staff member with tech expertise came to the rescue and reset the light board. That of course required a brief moment of going dark – no light whatsoever from the 50+ overhead spot lights – and a brief moment of going crazy bright – all the spotlights went to full intensity as the board sprung back to life. This entire time, the actors powered on and the audience stuck with us. The rest of the show went perfectly. The four of us who had been huddled by the light board for what seemed like hours let out a collective sigh of relief. It takes a village to run a live show.
Last night’s drama at the theater – get it? – was a timely reminder that things are better when we do them together. Getting to match day today would have never happened without all the loving members of my village. At school, at the theater, around Cville, across this country, and back home.
It takes a village to become a doctor. But when you have people like my people, it is a joy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.