{19} The Summer I (almost) Dared

This was the last summer holiday of the rest of my life. In medical school, they don’t like to give you breaks. As a doctor, you rarely get the chance to take them. I guess medical school is the practice. I just wanted it to be worthwhile, my expectations weren’t high. I knew I’d need to make some money to take back to school, but beyond that my plans were sketchy. I had three and a half months looming ahead of me that I wasn’t overly enthused about and it started off rocky, at best.

Like I said, my expectations were so low as to be non-existent. Maybe I’d go to the beach a couple times, or the movies. Little indulgences I couldn’t partake of during the term. I’d have to get a job, but I didn’t know the first place to turn for that. My friends would be back in town, while the new friends I’d made at school would be out of town, gone back home to wherever. I had mixed feelings about that, the hanging out. Mostly I just wanted to lounge around at home, and that’s exactly what I did for the first two weeks.

So my summer unfolded subtly, like a map with cleverly hidden clues and treasures. It didn’t all come out at once, like you’d usually expect. There was no overt fanfare, no single blindingly amazing moments of awesome. There were instead times of heartbreaking serenity, an encompassing, soothing feeling that all was right with the world, accomplishments and personal growth. It was the kind of summer you can only appreciate in retrospect. Where nothing looks exceptional while it’s happening, but when you’ve driven past and look back you go: Oh, wow, that was absolutely wonderful.

I fell into a job serendipitously. My dad would say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and I think that’s just what happened. It lasted until early August, and I got to work with some really cool people. I learnt a great deal from them, from our project (a research on Cervical Cancer) and the opportunity was priceless. It was an excellent experience. The week after that project ended, I signed up to do my school-required community service at the health centre in my community, which was another great experience. It’s amazing how much you can learn in forty hours in a dental clinic. It had it’s ups and downs, of course, but overall I loved the atmosphere, the dental technicians and their camaraderie.

It sounds like all I did with my last summer holiday ever was work, which was disappointing in a sense. I’d had a vague idea of excitement, a summer I’d remember forever. But I think this summer will be memorable for different reasons.

Like the fact that I got very little sleep (for a a very good reason). And passing all my first year exams. Being independent enough to go to Kingston on my own for a couple days to stay with a friend. Breaking out of my reclusive shell to find the fun in going out. Being grown up enough to make my own decisions. Writing a play. Getting more formal dance training. Fighting with my best friend. Dealing with a long-distance relationship. Speaking in public. Growing my hair in locks.

All new things. All faced with determination. Mostly exciting. Some terrifying. All steps towards becoming that person I want to be in the next twenty or so years. I feel almost like I lived a lifetime in the last three months. And I’ve emerged metamorphosed, inescapably altered for the better.

It’s the last week of summer and I’m already looking forward to school starting. Of course within a week, I’ll be begging for a holiday, but for now, at least, I’ve got purpose and a plan. This summer performed it most fundamental function: it renewed and re-energized me. The saw has been sharpened, and now it’s all bout moving upward and onward.


{from m. atwood}

Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
wings of pink blood, and your bones
empty themselves and become hollow.
When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon
and your heart is light too & huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium.
The sun’s white winds blow through you,
there’s nothing above you,
you see the earth now as an oval jewel,
radiant & seablue with love.
It’s only in dreams you can do this.
Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,
a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;
the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight
down on the think pink rind of your skull.
It’s always the moment just before gunshot.
You try & try to rise but you cannot.