“…When the promise of a brave new world / Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?”
Although Pink Floyd isn’t exactly known for its sunshiny demeanor, and leaving room S220 for the last time after this morning’s final lecture was anything but depressing, that was the song that popped into my head anyway.
Considering the slightly-more-than-a-hint of bittersweetness that this morning’s class was shadowed by, it’s a slightly appropriate song, although it begs to be followed up with something like Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”. We sat together–Burke, Karen, Jeremy, Kylie, Jay, and myself–in our usual longitudinal tight-knit 6-pack in what was probably the quirkiest room on campus, we did what we always did–the comments, the laughter, the half falling asleep, and our new-found pastime of someone always having to get the last clap in.
This was a day I’d been looking forward to for a long time. I had been growing to resent having to scan a chapter in a book for vocab words or numerical factoids or labor over a simplistic Power Point presentation containing bulleted list that lacked meaning and cohesion, just because these things might make good test questions. Now I can crack the books for real, books that I have chosen, versus the less-than-ideal textbooks too often chosen for us. I can read in-depth, at my pace, the subjects I deem necessary, applying the main concepts to real live patients. I now have the spare time to devote to my own learning based on my judgment of what’s important rather than having to base my reading on someone else’s. And when I feel tired, I no longer have to press on so I can say I made it through all the material, all the while remembering next to nothing the next day because I was too tired to actually absorb any of it.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t some wistfulness, though. I have to admit, I’m going to miss parts of this. Like making innocent side comments, some of them mildly cynical, but all of them in relatively good fun. Or ripping on the slackers in the back – again, better natured than that sounds. I’ll miss the people who thought to put bottled water at every single seat in preparation for the hard-assed prof who broke school policy by saying we couldn’t have so much as water during class. I’ll miss the innocent Southern belle with the soft voice and a hilarious not-so-innocent inner layer. Or the wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly straight-up Mormon guy who also studies witchcraft because he has so many Wiccan friends. Or the other big good-natured guy who belted out the Happy Birthday song louder than the other 96 people put together. Or the people who always said, “isn’t it (so-and-so’s) birthday?” when it really wasn’t, inciting the profs to initiate the Happy Birthday song to the same person about 50 times during Tri 7 alone, all the while without realizing it was the same kid every time. I’ll miss the differing opinions and honest discussions, the philosophy debates, the mood swings, the jokes, and the laughs.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’ll actually miss our room. The first thing our prof on the first day of Tri 1 said is, flat-out, point-blank, “you guys got screwed. Your room sucks.” He was being funny, but serious.
At first we couldn’t really stand our room. It was oddly shaped, oddly lit, and lacking in a way I never figured out. One thing I did notice was that we lacked a center aisle. If you wanted to sit in the middle of a row and not out to the side, you had to make your way past a lot of people, a task that got much trickier if you weren’t in the first couple rows in front and couldn’t just hop over the table.
Over time, though, our room grew on us, became part of us, shaped the general personality of the class as a whole, and pretty soon it amused us, as our profs often hated our room more than we did. They’d bitch and moan about not having a center aisle, as it was harder to keep tabs on our in-class activities, and they’d burn off their frustrations by walking laps around the perimeter or pacing back and forth across the front like caged lions. The more intense the professor’s baseline personality, the more comical it got to watch.
But the fact is, that chapter is done. We’re no longer students in class, but rather full-fledged residents, living practically full-time in the clinic, exclusively treating real patients, and functioning as doctors in a matter of months. We keep thinking that it’s only some time in early summer and that graduation is something like 9 months away, but it’s not. We have to stop and remind ourselves how fast time has flown and how fast it will continue to fly. I can only imagine what this surreal vibe is going to feel 4 months from now, when we walk across the stage for real, with, as mentioned before, “…the promise of a brave new world / Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky”.