I find myself sipping mate and gazing over my desk and plants out at a new skyline. Several days ago, I moved to Richmond, VA from Danbury, CT. The move was a grueling 28-hours of loading the truck, driving overnight, and unloading the truck. My partner and I took only a 30-minute nap to get us through the driving, knowing that there are an infinite number of less tiring ways to move, we wanted it done as quickly as possible. Our main hiccup was finding a way to navigate the ~400 miles along the East Coast on highways that allowed trucks because our U-Haul was quite robust. We learned that there is no setting on Google maps for truck routes. Luckily, we know how to read maps despite the prevalence of technology in our lives and found a route using our brains, yes unusual.
We’re mostly unpacked now, just a few more projects to do before we will be completely settled. We’re chipping away at these tasks, such as hanging paintings and donating no-longer needed items. Knowing our apartment is in a good place, my focus has shifted to the next adventure. Later this week we travel to Paraguay to visit my friends there. It’ll be my partner’s first time to the country where I did the Peace Corps and where my mind always wanders when time slows. Slow as it is now.
Medical school, at least as it is organized at my school, is a sprint that comes to a halt not at graduation but at Match Day, several months before graduation. It’s not a bad system. It leaves time for vacation and residency onboarding tasks while also giving us students a moment to enjoy non-medical pursuits before we plunge into the rigors of residency. But, when one is accustomed to a sprint too fast to breathe, as those of us in medical school are, the slowness of these days between Match Day and residency is as strange as a journey to a new, very different country. I’ve read more books for fun these past few months than I have in years. I’ve hiked and slept and pondered life. I started baking again, something I hadn’t done since I returned to the US from Paraguay in 2016. I’ve planned trips and moved.
I wanted to come to Richmond early, many of my peers won’t move to their residency locations until weeks prior to our start date this summer. I’m a person who centers at home, regardless of how new the home is to me. I like moving, but I also like time to settle before I’m expected to excel in life pursuits. I like time to find the grocery store and walk the neighborhoods that’ll be my stomping ground. Yesterday I did both of those things – I found a grocery store which had nice spinach (the primary way I grade grocery stores) and I strolled through a giant cemetery not far from my house with trees that had new, full leaves and singing birds.
It’s beautiful in Richmond and the politeness of the South is a welcome kindness after living in New England for years. New Englanders don’t, for example, say “hi” when you pass them on the street in a city or let you cross the street without threatening to run you over, even though there’s a red light for oncoming traffic. I’m too new to Richmond to have major complaints, but so far, the things that bothered me in Connecticut aren’t present to the same extent. I do admit, I’m not used to having streets named after important people from the Confederacy. I don’t yet fully understand how those imposing names from the past will impact my life though I know they already do and will in new ways here.
Richmond is green and quiet for a city. My apartment is high up without taller buildings around it. It has ample windows. What this means is that I’m surrounded by sun and have a stunning view of the sky. My few days living in Richmond have taught me that it’s a place of expressive skies – which is something I always loved about Paraguay too. The clouds cross the sky with bright colors and exciting shapes. The morning, afternoon, and evening look different in the clouds and sky of Richmond. My apartment, specifically, has a magnificent view of the sunset.
I lived in Washington, DC for 6 years before I did the Peace Corps. And while Richmond is distinct from DC, coming back to the DC-VA-MD area feels like returning home. I’m happy to be back. I’m happy to have arrived when the weather is absolutely perfect, just before the humidity and heat of the summer set in. I have about a month to explore Richmond before I start work. Richmond feels completely different from Vermont or Connecticut. I’m happy to uncover the opportunities hidden in this new place. Opportunity to learn to be an excellent doctor but, also, opportunities to explore life beyond medicine. I’m excited to reconnect with the urban passions I have and to find new ones that suit me in a green, urban home. And small mountains aren’t too far away in Shenandoah. I’m grateful for the slowness of these days so that I can sit with my happiness. Life has taught me that, much like sorrow, complete happiness is fleeting. So, I’m pleased to have time to revel in this happiness storm until the next emotion rolls in.