When I moved back from the west coast to my itty-bitty industrial town, my life changed completely. During the subsequent two years when my time was consumed with caring for my mother, my smart, stimulating and worldly friends across the continent dropped away. I just hadn't the time to nurture our relationships.
I'm trying to create new stimulating relationships but apparently I'm weird.
My nursing coworkers, the pinnacle of education in this working class town, are consumed entirely with creating and raising families, getting married or engaged. We're friendly enough at work but I so miss talking with people about things beyond our immediate sphere of family and work.
Those who read, read Twilight and the Hunger Games. They tease (not maliciously) me about the books that I bring in and I can't find any interest in the antics of Belle or Edward.
Growing up here, I was the lonely little girl in the tree with a book fantasizing about evading the trolls below. When I left at eighteen, I discovered a wonderful world full of fascinating curious people who read, traveled, explored cultures, food and art, fought for environmental preservation and human rights. They celebrated their own uniqueness and seemed to appreciate mine. I swore that I'd never return to this area.
Then dad got sick and mom got sick and I again was tethered.
I know that the end is in sight; I'll be leaving in a few months and re-entering a world of more curious people.
This last year has been brutal though. Those who have applied to medical school probably remember how demoralizing the process is. You basically rip your life and history apart, present the pieces to anonymous adcoms and wait for them to decide that you're lacking. With the deaths of my parents and my relocation thousands of miles and several time zones away from my friends, I lost all of my social and emotional support.
Every time that someone I work with asked why my applications were failing, I withered away a little more. Trying to explain the immense competition involved came across as just defensive and it showed in their expressions.
Emotionally, I'm hibernating now. The acceptance that I received validated me in a way that I could have never predicted. My intellectual loneliness isn't so severe now that I know that it's finite.
I don't feel defensive anymore when people insinuate that I'm lazy because I don't plan on working through medical school. I can just wait a few short, yet impossibly long, months and I'll be with folks who'll understand that I'm not lazy.
I'm grinning now in anticipation. I know that I'm leaving an intellectual desert to conquer an ocean of knowledge. It'll be hard, I know, but it'll never be as hard as the last few years of dehydration. It can't be.