Archive for April, 2008

On Friends (Another one dug out of the xanga archives)

April 5, 2008
This was written back in April, right after I made a trip to Monterey with some good friends from high school.  If any of you med school friends out there come across this, this doesn’t mean I don’t love you guys with all my heart!  It’s more meant to discuss that alienation I think we all feel sometimes from the ‘normal’ world around us.
Saturday, April 05, 2008

I’m currently trying to study for an upcoming exam on Nutrition.  While I’m not exactly bored to tears . . . it’s a near thing.  Casting about for a new and novel way to procrastinate (the dishes being done, the desk being cleaned) I decided that maybe it was time for another xanga entry.

Every two weeks I participate in this elective called “The Healer’s Art.”  I thought it would be more of a discussion of why we wanted to become doctors, what it means to be a doctor, etc, but in fact it has been more of a chance to share some of our personal experiences when it comes to loss, staying true to who we are and so on.  Somewhere in the course of these discussions I told my little section (3 other first year medical students and a pediatrician) about the old High School Crew’s latest trip to Monterey.  It really took me until then (a good 3 or 4 days after the fact) before I really understood why I had such a great time, and it all sorta came tumbling out in that small group.

The fact of the matter is, I have known these people for a lotta years, some from the first year of high school, and some as far back as the first year of school . . . period.  There is so much shared history and experience there, I feel that when I am hanging out with them that I have come to some sort of spiritual ‘home.’  There is nothing I can do with them that wouldn’t be a surprise.  I feel like if I were to walk up to these people and tell them that I were gay, or had just eloped and gotten married, or something equally random and strange, they’d blink a few times, assimilate it, and then ask me some appropriate question about whether I’ve got a picture of the new wife.  I guess what I am trying to say is it wouldn’t faze them one bit; they know who I am, and there is just about nothing I can do that can change their fundamental image of the person that I am.

In that company there is no need to guard my emotions, to hold things back (yes, up to and including the spanking of certain members of said group).  I would gladly tell any one of them anything there is to know about the most private aspects of my life, and I know that my candidness will be met with a thoughtful ear.  I think that our relationship is such that we don’t even need to speak in full sentences anymore; so many allusions are tossed around that I am sure our conversation is nearly impossible to decipher by passers-by.

But anyway, this all ties into that theme of loss that we were discussing in my small group because I said I was afraid I might lose this amazing connection with these amazing people in the course of becoming a physician (and in the group’s own sort of Brownian Motion as they spread out to different parts of the country to chase down their own dreams).  I only feel it in small pangs here and there when someone asks me how medical school is going, or what I thought of Gross Anatomy, or of studying or volunteering at my clinic.  Usually words are good enough to explain how these things have effected me, but in truth language is a clumsy tool, and sometimes I find myself unable to adequately express how I really feel.  My medical school classmates can understand without much stretch of the imagination; we’re all doing it together.  It is when I am speaking with people outside of this circle that I find myself sometimes drawing up short.

I dunno.  This really isn’t a big problem now, but I feel like I can see it coming, and I fear the day when that gap becomes too wide to bridge.  We do some crazy stuff in medicine, and I am not sure how my inability to share my experiences with those who have not had similar ones themselves will affect our relationship.  I mean, a bad day for a plumber and a bad day for a doctor working in an ICU are completely different things.  How can one expect to relate to the other?  I am afraid as we follow our own little trails through life that their diverging ways will mean we will no longer be able to find that common ground that makes us such a unique and special group of people.

That is what I said to my small group anyway.  I dunno.  I feel like in a lot of ways, you guys are so important in keeping me sane, and grounded in this world of ours.  You guys know me better than just about anyone else I can think of, and more importantly, you guys know me as Jordan-the-friend, and not Jordan-the-doctor.  However these coming years (and these months already past!) decide to change me, I feel like you guys are such an important reminder of my humanity.  Because you guys know me better than anyone else, and know me before this whole new layer of medical experiences get laid down on me, you remind me (either via the gentle word or the smack across the face . . . whichever works best) to be, well, me.  The unadulterated, unsullied me, who rather enjoys taking stupid pictures with anchors, wearing Krispy Kreme hats in the car and staring into tide pools on a windy beach.

Anyhow, I know this all sounds really emo.  Honestly, if you look at this the right way, I feel like this might only be a few notches below Kate Winslett’s “I’ll never let go Jack!” of Titanic infamy.  :shrugs:  But the fact of the matter is, it worries me.  Doctors are not known for being the most well-grounded, intra-personally gifted people.

I guess that the point of all this really is to let you guys know that I really appreciate your friendship.  That it ranks among the things I hold most dear to me in all the world.  Not everyone is so lucky to have this consistent group of friends, with so many shared memories among each other.  It is much more the norm to be friends with one person here, one person there, with no mutual acquaintances.  But having this group, this crew of people who have stayed close for so long and who can play, support and lean on each other as the situation demands is so unique and so amazing.  I just wanted to let you guys know how much I appreciate this friendship, and say that I hope it never fades.

Well, that’s my melodramatic schpiel for the evening.  Nutrition calls.  Take care everyone, and hope to see y’all sooner rather than later.