A few months after a horrendous break up I arrived in Philadelphia starved to start my new/better life— one filled with judicious study, boundless self-exploration and precisely ZERO men.
The night before medical school orientation I carefully timed the four block walk from my apartment to Hahnemann’s Geary Auditorium. Entering into that auditorium to receive my charge from the dean of students was going to be the moment that changed my life. I was not going to be late.
After a fitful sleep, it was time. While my coffee brewed I experimented with different positions for my required ID badge. That small laminated card was literally my pass to fulfillment of a life-long dream.
At that moment, the placement of that badge seemed a life or death decision.
Clipped to my pants?
Clipped to my messenger bag?
Around my neck with the provided metal chain? No way. Only a dork…
I had spent hours choosing the right jeans that said “I’m here to learn not socialize.”
My clogs were sensible yet stylish–they would carry me through miles of trips around the library. My hopeless frizzy hair was loosely piled on my head. I would not have time to mess with hair with all the urgent learning I would be doing.
Finally I decided to clip the badge to the hem of my new cotton T-shirt. It would be visible without being “nerdy.”
In my calculations, four minutes had been allotted for the trip from my 15th floor apartment to the lobby. The butterflies in my stomach were not from the elevator’s drop. The magnitude of this day was overwhelming. I was starting medical school. I was going to be a doctor.
My nerves got the best of me and I failed to account for elevator stops.
When the doors opened on the 9th floor the first thing I noticed was a pair of well-worn hiking boots. As my bored gaze took in white tube socks (too long,) plaid flannel shorts (no further explanation needed,) and a Paul Simon concert T-shirt (it had seen better days,) my patience dwindled,
Just then something familiar caught my eye.
The bearded-lumbarjack-looking guy had an ID badge identical to mine. His, however, hung pathetically around his neck.
Oh God. I rolled my eyes internally. This guy’s in my class—HE is going to be a doctor?
Despite his aloof nod, I couldn’t help but notice his smiling eyes. My success at shrugging his presence off basically only lasted that one elevator ride.
It turns out, twenty years later, that was the moment that changed my life forever.