The Match Day ceremony and opening of the envelopes and pinning of the map to show where the UCSD SOM Class of 2008 will spend their next 3-7 years was emotionally overwhelming.
By the time we went across the street to lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery (for good ol' times sake) several of the students and their spouses started to get that glazed over look that says, "I can't believe it's over. We did it! But we're too tired to move from this chair just yet."
We're exhausted in manner of the moment the last guest leaves the wedding--ages and ages of detailed preparation, then the big day happens, and then it's over, yet it is all just the beginning.
Justin and I opened his envelope (actually I think I photographed a little bit of the opening) and he read it first, then I did. We both looked a little surprised, and then he looked serenely happy and excited, if you can be serene and excited at once. We hugged.
"Are you happy?" I whispered into our embrace.
Then the exchange of "Where are you going?" "Where are you going?" began. Within our circle of friends we had people who got their first choice and people who scrambled. For this first time in a long time at UCSD SOM everyone matched before 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday scramble day. Every single student matched. (Apparently some years they do not all match, at all. Imagine that!)
Most of the people were happy--married students whose spouses have important jobs in San Diego get to stay, people who traveled across the country to come here get to go home, people get to move to fun new cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston... Some people looked a little disappointed, but that is just because a group of people who are high achievers and accustomed to getting what they want are bound to feel shocked when they do not get their first or second choice in something.
The fact is that thousands of people applied for these positions, hundreds of people were interviewed, and only about 10 spaces at each school needed to be filled. So, getting your fifth choice is not something to cry over--not if you made your list thoughtfully and with much reflection.
One wise woman told a girl who seemed upset, "If I hear you say it was just your fifth choice one more time, I'm going to slap you." Of course the part about slapping was a joke, but really...
I have asked Justin about three times in the last five hours whether he is happy with his Match. He says he is happy. Any result would have been a shock--it's all just really overwhelming.
At one point last night Justin said, "Oh my God. What if we get Chicago? What have I done?!?!" It's so far and so cold and then hot and we don't know anyone there.
The UCSF debate has volleyed continually--it would be fun to start a new program, he's a good leader, it will come with it's pitfalls, it's going to be even more work than just being a resident because they will be shaping a program.
Staying in San Diego balanced its positives. Like grade 13. No change.
But I'm up for adventure!
But San Francisco is pretty far when it comes to brief family visits v. excursions and longer stays. Good. Bad. Indifferent.
The Los Angeles and Orange County area have never held that much excitement for me. I may be a Southern California girl, but I am not a prissy chi-chi girl, I do not know name brands of anything, and if I do know the names I don't really understand the food chain of branding. I like things that are functional. Natural. Beautiful. Useful. Practical. Simple and also entertaining, but I am so easily amused. I love just living. I am happy and blessed to have what I have, even if sometimes it's too much or too little for how I feel in that moment. That's just human nature. Having traveled and lived on the East Coast and in Europe, I know because I have been told--accused, in fact--of not fitting the California stereotype.
I am not a Baywatch girl, with long blond hair floating in the breeze as I run down the beach with large breasts bouncing in a red swimsuit that perfectly matches my golden tan. I'm a mutt and I love it.
Which means I am going to be really happy finally being legitimately "theirs" when I cheer for the Bruins. That's right! Justin got into, as one of the other students said, "the jewel of emergency medicine residency programs on the West Coast." He's going to be at UCLA-Harbor, which is a county program and only three years , so he'll be learning a lot and fast and seeing incredibly intense medical situations as well as serve the poor or middle class who do not have health insurance and wait until they must go to the ER. We're moving to the Los Angeles area. We'll be near Oakley (who is in our kitchen at this very moment--no longer a good long distance friend, but a "neighbor" as she said) and Brandon (her husband, Justin's best friend), both of our families, friends of both of us whom we haven't seen much since we moved.
Over the past 5.5 hours I have moved through stunned to thrilled to happy to content to stunned and back again.
The more I learned about the prestige of this program, the better I have felt about our choice. Justin's classmates are impressed that he got in there, jealous that they won't be seeing as much "stuff" as they will in calmer neighborhoods, and proud to have a good showing at Harbor from their class. (Nate also placed there, a very nice gentleman who helped us move and who has two precious children and a warm-hearted wife. We don't know them well, but we will.) Justin says people were shocked earlier when they learned he did not rank this school as his first choice, that they told him he should. Now that he's Matched there, everyone is telling him he will be able to get a job anywhere after finishing his residency there. (yippee!) And though we did not factor the fourth year into his Match List, Harbor is a three year program, so he will be a licensed ER physician sooner than later--which means we can start paying off our educational debt faster. As with most of the other older medical students, we do not even have a retirement plan growing yet.
Here we are. Peaceful. He naps. I write. Oakley learns a computer program, and we all know everything is going to be wonderful. Better than OK.
We are strong and connected individuals. Do people need more than that? For what?