It's been clearly evidenced to me that I have become entirely too forgetful. On three separate occasions today, I completely lost track of my basketball jersey, Panda Express takeout, and contact lenses case. Though minor, it's something I absolutely do not want to see becoming a trend.
So before this weekend is over, I want to commemorate the euphoria I felt this past Friday.
We hit the ground running when we arrived from the Philippines on November 1st with an interview the very next day. Abbie had been blessed to receive a good number of interviews and we had a long interview and application season ahead of us. She then had interviews in Reading and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the next week, then New Jersey, then a couple in Connecticut, then New York, back to New Jersey, Maryland and Washington DC, and by then, most of the hospitals were on Christmas break. We resumed in January with three weeks of interviews in Illinois and Michigan.
If I were to give a rough ballpark of the miles we (using "we" and "I" interchangeably here) drove, I'd say we were probably just shy of 4,000 miles. I would know, I was overdue for an oil change in my brother's old Subaru-that-could. Add on top of that the flight to Chicago and then driving to Michigan State (over 400 miles roundtrip), and you have two very exhausted people. Obviously, more Abbie than me, but tired and pretty much completely burnt out.
Family and friends made the time go a lot quicker, too, though. And without their hospitality and support, we would never have made it through this process.
But when it was all said and done, after all the anxiety of Abbie's one-on-one interviews with program directors and endless hospital tours, and after all my hours of driving and smelling like coffee everyday, we began to narrow down her match rank list. She obviously had her own assessments of each program's pros and cons but I liked my system a bit better—the Unofficial Starbucks Index.
With each interview, I'd Google the nearest Starbucks where I could work on my laptop and sip on a cup o' Joe for as long as I'd like without hassle. And being that all of Abbie's interviews began before 8am, I didn't really have much choice by way of killing time and comfortably sitting at a table alone for 7-8 hours without being asked to leave.
By the second or third Starbucks, I had begun to take note of the neighborhoods I'd drive by, the kind of businesses in the locale, what they had going in terms of infrastructure, and, though shallow, the crowd that hung out with me at the nearby coffee joint. After all, it could potentially be where we would settle down at some point and having a socio-economic barometer, as unscientific as it was, would be an important factor to consider.
Thus began my research.
Let me preface this by saying that the following is completely biased and solely my own opinion, but I think I'm pretty much a Starbucks expert by now. Definitely deserving of an honorary barista designation or something. Although, after three months of grande white chocolate mochas and skinny chai lattes (just kidding, I don't like tea), they all began to mush together into one big caffeine fix of a nightmare. However, no other Starbucks stood out quite like the one which happens to be closest to where Abbie has actually matched.
Indeed, my favorite Starbucks ended up being the one just over a mile from Johns Hopkins/Sinai. This is quantified by the fact that it is the singular snapshot of any Starbucks that I took with my phone.
All the others—from DC to NYC, from the Huskies to the Spartans—were the typical Starbucks shop you're undoubtedly familiar with. So when I pulled up to the one above, off Route 83 in the early morning fog which clearly added to the drama, the scene was like none I'd ever... seen. My guess is it's a converted mill of some sort with its brickwork and proximity to a canal/small river running parallel it. Inside, it was homey with a high, vaulted ceiling and a spacious sitting area. The staff were cordial, there was more than enough tables, the restrooms were particularly clean and kept, parking was ample, just next door was a Whole Foods, and with the middle-aged, business/professional crowd predominantly also on MacBooks, I didn't even have to use my Kensington lock! Certainly the coffee bean gods were smiling down on me that day.
We knew by last Monday that Abbie had matched into a residency program, which, needless to say, was amazing news on its own. We just didn't know where. The obvious preference was to be here in Maryland, being my homestate as well as having Abbie's relatives nearby whom she'd stayed with whenever she visited. She pored over her ranking list and made changes up until the last day to submit in February.
I was looking at my watch all Friday, knowing she'd call right at 1pm with the news. My hands were trembling when I picked up her call. She was sobbing and I was immediately conflicted with them either being tears of joy or sorrow. Then when she said those three magical words, "Johns Hopkins/Sinai", her (and as you can see, my) number one choice, I was completely stunned and can only remember squealing "Yes!" and "Yay!" over and over again.
It's so incredible I don't think I've even begun to really process it. I'll begin house and apartment hunting this week. And in less than two months, I'll be getting married to the girl of my dreams (cue sappy music). After all the years of hard work and countless prayers, it's great to finally write the ending to this chapter in our lives.
But it's just the beginning. :)