A year ago tomorrow was a Thursday. I went to work at BU and had an uneventful workday. I was supposed to have a first date that night, at 6:30 in Faneuil Hall, with some Australian guy whose name I don’t remember. At 5, I left the office and went to the Dugout with some coworkers – Mike and Matt maybe? I can’t really remember, but it was just for a quick beer.
After the Dugout, I went with Mike down to Back Bay Station so that he could catch his train and I could get on the orange line to go to Haymarket. As I walked down the steps to the Back Bay platform, an outbound train came and I got on and sat down. An announcement was made that the train would be standing by for a moment.
I noticed I had a new voicemail, so I dialed my phone to check my messages.
One new message, the little voice announced. The train started to move just as that message began. It was the Dean Elmore from Kansas State Veterinary College calling to see if …something, because at that moment the train went underground, and my phone disconnected.
On that train between Back Bay and Downtown Crossing I was atingle – perhaps as thrilled and stunned as I have ever been. I was 99% sure why the guy was calling – Deans usually don’t conduct the random phone surveys. It was fully unexpected. After being wait-listed and rejected across the board, I had, just that week, come to terms with not going to vet school. I was working on my plan B, and I was getting more and more okay with it.
Then, that call. I sat on the train numb, tearing up, in shock. I had done it. I had actually succeeded. I looked around at my fellow passengers thinking how crazy it was that my life had just made such a dramatic, acute shift and all those people were right there, and had no idea. I had just succeeded at the biggest challenge that I had ever taken on. I had done it. I was in.
It was a moment that I had been dreaming of for years, and of course when it came I was trapped underground with absolutely no access to anyone with whom I could share the news. I made it to Downtown Crossing, just short of Haymarket, before I couldn’t take it anymore. I got off of the train and worked my way through the throngs and upstairs where I started dialing – first, to re-check the message and confirm that I had been offered admission, and second, to call almost everyone I had ever known.
My elation lasted for approximately 30 minutes, and in that time I was so happy. I could easily have done backflips on city hall plaza. All too quickly the elation dissipated, and then replaced with a rather acute horror: I had gotten into vet school. I might actually have to GO to vet school. In Kansas. Manhattan Kansas. The Little Apple.
It didn’t matter. Those 30 minutes were brilliant, and I hope that I never forget how it felt. That feeling, no matter how fleeting, is why I ever try at anything. That is why the harder-won battles are the most satisfying. Those 30 minutes made the prior four years of working, and studying, and volunteering, and not sleeping, and feeling stupid at almost every turn, absolutely and totally worth it.
I canceled the date since the last thing I wanted to do was spend a few hours with someone who could definitely not appreciate my news (“nice to meet you! you’re quitting your job and moving to kansas??”). He was very gracious about it but we never did reconnect. C’est la vie.
It’s funny how things work out. That shift was a tricky one: from wanting something so desperately to actually having it. I suspect it’s quite how I’ll feel when, in just less than three years I’ll get the thin envelope telling me that I passed my boards, or in just over three years when I officially graduate as a DVM. Not that I’m counting down the days of course – but its nice when the struggle is replaced however momentarily with success.
I’m off to Chicago early tomorrow morning and will be in Wrigley Field (isn’t that where the Cubs play?) for the 1:20PM first pitch. Finals are looming but I’m going with vet friends so we can study in the car (ha), I’m not driving, and we’re staying with one of those friends’ brother. So it should be a fun, quick weekend – our last hurrah really before we disperse for the summer.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be a second year vet student, which is even better than just getting in.