Lisa and I went to a reception, yesterday evening, for students who’d landed summer fellowships at a particular hospital in Boston. (Yeah us!) It wasn’t formal, so I wore a crimson cropped sweater, a beige circle skirt (with pockets!) and beige Sarto soft-leather ballet flats.
I’ve disparate feelings in these situations. I was excited - this was a goal I needed to achieve - that next notch - and my mom might even smile.
At the same time, I felt like an imposter. ‘If these people knew the trouble I’m having with physics this year,’ I thought, and ‘I know my sister could do this - and my brother - but can I?’
I try not to let my nervousness show, because the stories you tell yourself can hold you back.
The reception was small, there were only four students, their mentors and a few hospital and Yale people. As we signed in, we got name tags and tote bags with the hospital logo containing fellowship info. There were picture posters of the hospital all around and an intro video looping on a large screen TV. They took some snaps.
Several tables along one wall had coffee, sodas, water bottles and finger snacks - which I guess you’d call canapes - and melon ***** of all colors. The centerpiece though, was a big silver, smoked salmon with a lemon stuck in its mouth and a wreath of parsley about its neck - all on a bed of lettuce, surrounded by various crackers and French bread rolls.
I was working my way along the tables, because there were honeydew melon-***** and they’re a personal weakness. Honeydews aren’t in season now, so I was full-on, honeydew foraging. I’m sure I looked like a starving homeless girl who’d somehow gotten in and was trying to eat for the week.
A slim, attractive, black lady in a very stylish dark-gray beaded jacket & sheath dress, had stopped as if transfixed, staring solemnly at the salmon. As I drew next to her, my plate half full of honeydew *****, she said, “It’s a fitting memorial.” That hit me as so funny - I laughed embarrassingly - spitting half a melon ball under the table. She started laughing too - we were like two sillies at church. Her sad face, the way she’d said it - you had to be there.
After a few minutes, the hospital administrator gave a little general welcome, ending it with, “Now it’s time to meet your mentors.” The fish lady turned out to be my mentor. She was still standing next to me - she turned, offered her hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Rebecca.”
Her voice made those simple words seem warm and inviting. She looks to be in her early fifties (but I’m a bad judge of age), her short black hair was peppered with gray and white like she had just come in from the snow. We became instant old friends, cracking each other up.
Dr. Rebecca’s (again, I’m not doxing anyone) specialty is neurological surgery. She’s a Baltimore girl - born and raised - who attended Johns Hopkins from bachelors through medical school. Of course, I mentioned that both my siblings went to Johns at some point - Brice being a sophomore in med school there now.
Besides four years of medical school, Rebecca completed seven years of neurological surgery residency (yummy). “A doctor never really finishes school,” she said, “things constantly change and there are new specialties to master,” but I knew this from my parents.
“The plan is for you to shadow me this summer,” she confirmed, “and gain some clinical experience.” I nodded enthusiastically, saying, “Yes mam.” We talked for about thirty minutes and, as we parted, she gifted me a copy of ‘Skandalaki’s Surgical Anatomy.’
“If you want to be a surgeon, you’ll need to know anatomy better than God.” She’d said. “So start now. I made some notes for you in the index - we’re going to lean into this,” she finished, tapping the book, and giving me a wink.
I was walking on air as Lisa and I made our way back to the residence.
It’s going to be the BEST summer.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Disparate: something made up of different and incompatible elements
NEWS UPDATE: I ❤️ NY