Monday, May 26, 2008

Where I Thought I'd Be

17 years ago, when I started medical school, I had a vision of how things were going to be 17 years later. I was going to become a family doc and have a practice somewhere rural, probably northern New England, but maybe out west. I would see people for their boils and diabetes and broken bones, and they would pay me with wadded-up twenties or rhubarb or car repairs. I would be married to a brilliant, attractive woman—probably also a city transplant— and we would have a couple of kids.

We would live in a fabulous old farmhouse on about 50 acres. Almost certainly the house would be Greek revival style, with ancient wooden columns out front. The columns and trim would be white, the paint would be ever-so-slightly peeling. The rest of the house might be yellow. There would be meadows, a swimming pond, perennial gardens, apple trees, and an old elm with a tire swing. In the summer there would be bottomless lemonade, and we could watch the fireflies for hours on end after sunset. There would often be the smell of newly-mown grass, mixed just slightly with a whiff of lawnmower gas. I’m not sure who I envisioned would do all the mowing—certainly it wasn’t me, or my beautiful wife. Maybe there was a young handy-man type guy who lived above the barn in exchange for doing fix-it jobs. Did I mention the barn? There’s a barn, too.

In spite of being a small-town doc, I would at some point have continued to pursue my interests in anthropology and international health, through which I would have made many fascinating friends in foreign countries. With these friends we would keep up a lively correspondence, somewhat by email but largely by actual written letters sent on those gossamer light-blue fold-on-themselves airmail papers. These international friends would not be ultra-famous (no Nobel laureates, for example, at least at first) but they would be prominent in their fields—assistant directors of healthcare NGO’s, that sort of thing—and so they would often travel to the States for conferences etc. When they were in Major Metropolitan Area delivering a speech at Harvard, they would invariably tack on a couple days to their trip and detour up to relax at our place in the country. They would bring us news of developments in Africa and Asia, and we would feed them organic mustard greens and watch them doze away their stresses on the pond raft in the sun. At night we would drink a lot of wine and debate things and reminisce about how we all met years ago in that café in Tanzania or Florence. They would leave refreshed and reinvigorated for their important work; they would send thank-you notes from Bhutan.

The kids would be happy and they would play in the pond catching frogs, or building igloos, depending on the season. We would rarely have to drive them twenty miles to soccer practice or ballet or any such thing, because they’d rather build tree-forts or study butterflies. Then, in the summer, we’d take in a kid from the Fresh Air Fund, and they would become life-long friends with our kids.

We would watch the seasons change, and now and then take on a new project, but somehow we would escape the temptation to become preoccupied with fixing things or remodeling things. I would go to work but never get exhausted. I’d have medical students who would come for summers and they would think I was the best doctor they’d ever met. After a few years of observations I would build some cairns across the meadow to indicate where the sun would set at the solstices and equinox. Eventually I would write a book about it all.

That’s what I had in mind. Next post (maybe): Where I actually am.


Blogger The Girl said...

It sounds like a lovely fantasy! I can't wait to read where you really ended up.

I always pictured myself living near the beach somewhere, being single and having dogs. Now I live in the city and have cats and a husband. Who knows how these things work? I like reality better. :D

5/26/08, 8:44 PM  
Anonymous hilllady said...

Greek Revival? Really?

5/27/08, 9:18 AM  
Blogger jcat said...

my my, hey it too late to marry you and have sprogs now?

5/28/08, 2:17 PM  
Blogger Backdated said...

This is such a lovely idea for a post. I've been contemplating what mine would be like. I'm afraid it'd be less charmingly wistful and more hilariously embarrassing: lear-jetting off to Paris to promote my latest novel and such. :)

5/29/08, 8:00 AM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

Very interesting to read! I am looking forward to your post on where you are now, and also your thoughts on if you feel that where you are is better than where you thought you'd be. Or perhaps how you cope with some of the perceived losses, even with being happy with where you are, if this is the case. In all honesty, there are always things about "where we thought we'd be" that are ideal over where we are, but I truly believe that we are where we are for a reason. Where I thought I'd be at this point in my life is very much different than where I am. However, if things hadn't happened the way they did for me, I would really be missing out on some amazing aspects of my life the way it is. Sure, I wish some of the things that I'd planned for myself had come true, and there are many things that happened that I certainly wish hadn't - however I still feel that all of the experiences, good and bad, have made me who I am today.

At any rate - it gives quite an insight to read where you thought you'd be!

Take care,
Carrie :)

5/29/08, 10:46 AM  

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