In the movie Moulin Rouge by the visionary Baz Luhrmann – visionary if you discount Australia – the penniless writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) and the courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) fall in love to the sound of a Beatles/Phil Collins/U2/David Bowie/Dolly Parton/Elton John medley while standing in an elephant-shaped room overlooking Paris. Wouldn’t you? Theirs is an unexpected love, a forbidden one, an intoxicating one. One colored by secrecy and the unsettling feeling that it is not meant to be forever. How do you throw yourself into a new love when you know it is unlikely to last? Do you hold back for fear of getting hurt? Do you walk away to save your heart from the upheaval? Do you embrace the moment? Do you lose yourself in it completely, precisely because you know it is finite? Cinematographic considerations at play, Christian and Satine choose to live and love in the moment. They sing it on high in an over the top romantic duet titled Come What May.
On match day a little over two weeks ago, I found out I am headed to Vanderbilt’s Monroe-Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, for my pediatric residency training. At last the suspense was over and the next three years of my life were set, geographically anyway. Instead of the expected “Holy Batman, shit just got real” feeling, I felt dizzyingly numb. Of course it was a shock. After 6 months of anticipation, thousands of miles, dozens of interviews, it came down to being handed a plain sealed white envelope in front of 150 classmates. Mixed in with the terrifying prospect of being medically responsible for wee patients, the excitement of having a job – yes mother, I finally have a job – is the bittersweet full-fledged realization that I will soon leave Charlottesville, a place I have called home for nearly 8 years, a place filled with people I love to pieces, for an unknown faraway place filled with strangers.
On the very same day, I met a wonderful man. A man who knows my favorite movie (Gattaca), who sings along to the Elephant Room Medley song, who is willing to travel 450 miles to go rock out to a band we both love (Muse), who is comfortable sitting in silence by a roaring stream on a gorgeous Spring day, who appreciates the humanity that comes with caring for humans who are sick. We had met in passing many months ago but hadn’t connected then. Too busy, otherwise involved, or perhaps just afraid to put ourselves out there at the time. By a series of remarkably serendipitous circumstances, our paths have crossed again.
It seemed quite ironic at first, to be have given this lovely chance the very same day I learned I only have 3 months left in town. But is it? We have so very little control over the people who come in and out of our lives, as much as we like to think otherwise. It got me thinking of Danielle LaPorte and her sexy practical wisdom: “Potential. A gift. A curse. Don’t fall in love with it. Fall in love with what is.” I could spend a good deal of energy being upset at the seemingly bad timing. I could choose to walk away to save myself from potential heartache down the road. I could only look to starting anew in Nashville. But why live for a future I know nothing of when the present moment brings so much joy?
Transitions. They are thrilling, terrifying, bittersweet. They also are wonderful opportunities to embrace the present with heightened appreciation.
Come what may.