Dear Future Eugene,
I hope this finds you well. I know you normally don’t read your posts after they go up, but I hope you remember to look back on this one. Let’s say October 2017? You’ll be up in Lehigh Valley, knee deep into third year and your clinical clerkships. Maybe internal medicine, or you got surgery early. Hopefully, you are adapting well to the increased rigors.
Also, I hope that you are settling into your new home up there. Should be deep into fall with crisp mornings and short days. It’s nice, isn’t it? The weather here has just started to dip into the seventies and once the sixties, and it is deeply soothing to your New England soul. It’s easy to forget that I just endured your last Florida summer, for the foreseeable future. Maybe you miss the scorching heat and powerful sun. Maybe you don’t.
Another exam on Monday. Keeping a positive perspective is tough, tougher than I would like it to be. When friends ask me how I’m doing or how I’m dealing with school, I find myself falling into minor grumbles and complaints, rather than thankfulness for the experience. Easy to complain, hard to express positivity. Much like posture in that way— poor posture results from inattention and good posture is a practice that must be maintained, or else it will perish.
Speaking of posture, I’ve taken the past ten days off Jiu-Jitsu. Early last week, I tweaked my neck pretty good during a stand-up session with that incredibly fast and skilled 18-year-old who wrestles on his high school team. Last few seconds of the final roll, too. I spent the following four or five days resting, massaging (with the gracious help of my partner), electrically stimulating, and using every tool in my kit to bring my neck back to fighting shape.
Now that the acute process is done, I’ve noticed that my body is gobbling up the time away from the mat. I’m not sure if I’ll return. Three months of practice is enough time to know if I like the direction I’m heading. I love learning new skills, but the practice is changing my body and I am not sure about these postural and muscular adaptations. I have an idea for a future direction. I hope that you are reaping the benefits.
After stating the intention to create a friend/contact deck of notecards a few weeks ago, I’ve finally gotten around to making it and initiated letters to the first couple names on the deck. It’s been lovely. Had dinner with a friend here in Tampa and then his pup took us on a walk. Wrote a few long-form messages to friends both near and far. I’ve found this to be my preferred style of contact— even though I have access to my friends at all times through chat or text, these communication methods demand a lot of sustained time and attention. A chat session divides my attention over the course of an hour, or barely gets beyond ‘hey what’s up?”
I like letters. I like long rambling responses to letters where the writer gets distracted down a small rabbit hole and then refocuses a few paragraphs later. I like sending a message out to a friend, like a bottled letter, knowing that they will get to responding when they have the time and mindset to do so. I like having a number of questions and thoughts to respond to, sitting in the back of my mind as I go about my day. Part of me wishes to go full old-school and physically write letters and carefully fold them into an envelope sealed with some saliva and a Star Wars stamp, but the keyboard is much faster and the demand of a reply letter would likely be an imposition.
Even though I’ve only contacted four folks on the notecard deck, I’ve already felt more connected to my nebulous group of friends. Necessarily retreating to the study cave for second year exams, my face-to-face time is limited and not possible with friends across the country and world. I’m excited to continue this practice. It satisfies a deep desire, a scratch I didn’t know how to itch until now. I hope you are enjoying it, as well.
The weather is cooler now. We can sleep in our small apartment with the windows open, a gentle breeze rolling through. The days are still warm, it is Florida after all, and I find myself yearning for the cold. I want to feel my shoulders shiver and my teeth to chatter. I want a pile of blankets to barely keep out the chill and to shackle me to the pillow. Soon enough, I think.
It’s difficult to stay present, with a laundry list of future to-dos and treacherous mountains to climb. If you are alive and well, able to read this letter, and can chuckle to yourself about my woes and perceived challenges, then I have probably done okay. If you have found two pups to love and care for, then you are likely doing great.
Subtly and slowly, I’ll morph into you. The weeks will pass and so will Step One. The move will come and go, as will the anticipated goodbyes and unexpected hellos. Maybe you’ll feel like a different person, strutting through the clinic with wonderful ignorance. Maybe you’ll wish for simpler times, cramming for an exam while hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop.
Remember to practice. Stay sharp. Tell them you love them.