I knew my life was changing when I packed up those boxes and drove through the mountains(hills) to arrive in the next chapter of my life, residency. I spent days (no, scratch that, weeks) of my time pouring over notes on each of the places that I interviewed, but the biggest question I had to answers was if leaving Kansas City was really in my future. I had spent the previous months telling my family I was sure I was leaving to prepare them for at least the possibility. While initially I had some resistance by Match day each of my family members(even my mama) were excited that I had been placed at my number one choice. So for the first time in my life, I was going to be more than a hour from my family and more than the custom 2 hours from by big sister(my anchor.)
There are days the distance weighs on me heavily. I had spent my years in medical school dashing into my car and making the drive home when the waters got rough. I remember one time making the rush for home and stopping in Platte City(the half way point) to get gas. I was all kinds of upset, in tears, on the phone when I got out of the car. For the life of me now, I don't remember what I was upset about, but I locked my keys in my car. My mom made the 40 minute drive to let me into my car and give me a huge. It is much harder to jump in the car for a quick 7 hour drive home. This year was the first year I missed Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family and there are countless birthdays and events I miss. (I will say I am comforted by the fact that I am receiving incredible training and have the best family away from my family that anyone could ask for.)
My last visit home was a short one for 3 days on a weekend at the beginning of December(which I was able to take thanks to my wonderful family away from my family covering my shifts.) So after 3 months away, I packed up, unplugged everything, turned off all the lights, and headed north. Well northwest, for a quick side trip to Emporia where my sister calls home. What better place to start(and finish) my time at home than by scooping up my gorgeous niece and making memories with her. I started at the hair salon(getting a much overdue touchup and trim) where the hair dresser told me she had cut my nieces hair earlier that morning and that she was running around telling everyone, "my mommy's sister is coming and it is so hard to wait for my Aunt Katie." Well I could relate with little Mer, because knowing that they would be meeting me at the salon toward the end of my appointment, it was so hard to wait. I spent my entire appointment looking into the mirror at the reflection of the door behind me, waiting. My sister and I had some much needed catch up time. She listened and listened to all of my stories of work and the problems of a dating twenty-something girl(more on that later). We had some brownie batter(the best part of brownies), I gave Mer her new books(you'd have thought I was giving her chocolate), and then Mer and I had a sleep over in her room.
The following morning I headed towards my hometown to hop around town and see my family. I got in some much needed mother-daughter time. With so much always going on it is hard for us to find some alone time, but we managed to fit in some shopping together and a couple dinners/lunches during my short time at home. And I was spoiled over and over again with some of the absolute best food in the world. Homemade food at the hands of my mother. I enjoyed a laugh at the stories of my baby sister and listened to the new plans and experiences of my middle sister. It was a wonderful few days that blew by. I finished up my time at home by going back to Emporia. This time for Mer's 4th birthday. We took family pictures in 35 degree weather in spring attire(brrrrrrrrrrr) and Mer and I had another sleep over. She woke up the next morning, rolled over, and exclaimed, "I'm still 4! I want to be 4 forever." I think we would all love for her to be 4 forever.
The next leg of my vacation was a true vacation. Something I haven't done in a few years. For many, many years I have talked about heading out to the Northwest for hiking and sightseeing. My grandpa grew up in Seattle and I have always wanted to see the places that went with his crazy stories. (like falling out of a 2nd story window into blackberry bushes when he was 4 or patching up a boat he found on shore incorrectly and taking it out to then sink in the bay.) I had originally designed the trip as my first solo vacation. 50% sightseeing, 50% hiking. In December(during the short weekend home), I mentioned the trip to my grandpa so I could pick his brain on things to see and he simply said, "we will come with you." And all of a sudden my first solo trip became what I knew would be a memory making trip with my grandparents. I was going to see first hand my grandpa's original home and hear his stories. While my mix of hiking/sightseeing was definitely going to change, I knew I also wanted to still fit in hiking while I was out west. So it was going to be 20% hiking and 80% sightseeing and it was bound to be wonderful and perfect. At a ridiculous hour in the morning, the 3 of us woke up and groggly made our way for the airport at 3:30am. I was doing exceptionally well. I had managed to get all of us into the car, to the airport, and them dropped off at the doors in exceptional time. I drove my car to the economy parking and as I shivered waiting for the bus to take me to the terminals, I dug into my purse to find my phone. That morning I had a couple of text messages from the night before that I had read, but not answered. I dug and dug. And then I panicked. Rushing back to the car, I quickly searched all the normal places in my car that I place my phone while driving, then the trunk, and then the not so normal places out of pure desperation. That was it, I was going to have the accept the truth. I had left my phone a hour away. I jumped on the bus and made my way to the airport. The first thing I did was borrow my grandpa's phone to text my step mom in panic. After the efforts of my stepmom, dad, and 2 of my grandpa's employees my phone was located. My stepmom sent off what at the time I thought was an essential text message and then sent off my phone to be overnighted. To the west, my grandparents and I were dashing across the Salt Lake City airport to just barely board our second plane before the closed the doors behind us. We arrived without any real issues in Portland to cool, misty weather. Oh the greens everywhere were wonderful.(I love spring!) My grandfather has a son who lives in Portland and put us up for our couple days in the area. We spent some time exploring the local area and I spent a lot of time just exploring the local neighborhood and trying to get outside as much as possible. I spent a single day while in Portland hiking. I'll include my hiking story below for anyone who is curious(mom you should probably skip that part.)
After a short couple of days, the 3 of us boarded a train and found our way into Seattle. Traveling by train is probably my favorite way to travel. I can relax and stare out the window for hours in comfortable seats with the ability to get up for a walk if I want. I fell in love with Seattle as soon as I passed into the threshold of the city. The surrounding bodies of water, the big city, and hussle and bussle. I couldn't wait to start the exploring and my grandpa was on the same page. We started by having seafood right on the waterfront. The best salmon I have ever enjoyed and I finally got to fix my oyster craving. We worked our way through the Curiosity shop full of mermaids, 2 headed rabbits, and snake skins feet and feet long. I did a little solo walking through the city giving into my own curiosity and endless energy. It has been a busy weekend full of being out on the water, walking the underground, exploring the city, seeing where my grandpa use to jump off of his roof to run to the beach, and the food(and the wine!) With just a couple days left here in Seattle, we still have so much to fit in and I'm going to slide in a little hiking time tomorrow morning. We head back for our homes on Wednesday and while it has been an incredible little bit away from Little Rock, I'm looking forward to getting home, getting back in the ER, and sipping wine with some of my favorite people.
It's All About Timing
When I first started blogging, I blogged about my crafts and cooking. I never talked about my life and experiences. As life moved forward and it was more difficult to keep up with family, I made the decision to start a more personal blog to share my stories. I try to tightrope along a fine line between privacy and sharing my life. I enjoy my privacy and I keep certain things very quiet in my life(particularly dating), but when the timing is right I also think sometimes it is important to share those experiences. If for no other reason, than to relate to other people. The last time I had one of these posts, several people reached out to me to share their similar stories. I think sharing our experiences is part of the human experience and so this is my lesson about timing.
As I get older, I find that dating is always changing. Most people at this point in their lives have had several experiences with dating and for the most part those experiences were not ideal otherwise they wouldn't still be dating. So we all come in with some kind of baggage, expectations, concerns, fears. It is also during your twenties(and often thirities) that the rest of life is chaotic and stressful with family expectations, career movement, and quarter-life crisises. And it is during my strolling through this dating in my twenties that I have learned the biggest key to success after attraction is timing. You could meet the perfect person for you, your soulmate even, and if the timing is off it is over before it ever gets started.
One of the most common questions I get when I catch up with family, old friends, or meet new people is whether or not I'm dating. My answer is often no to stop that line of questioning before it gets started, but in honesty I'm always at least kind of dating. My years of not dating out of frustration and bitterness are far behind me. I came to the revelation that when this life is over, the things that end up mattering is the people. Not the money, the successes, the big trips(not that these aren't great parts of life). Relationships with other people is what gives our lives meaning and so if I'm fortunate enough to find the right person to share life experiences with then I'd welcome that next chapter of my life. But as a general rule, I no longer date anyone on a serious level right out of the gate. I try to let relationships take the path they are meant to take on their own.(I'll admit I occasionally have weak moments where I get ahead of myself.) One of my biggest hurdles to dating is what I will call the "bored" factor. My brain is a busy bee and is constantly moving and unfortunately I often get bored before the end of the first date and sometimes before the first date even occurs. But then there are the occasions that I meet someone who maintains my interest and I'm curious about what will come next. And typically when this happens, the timing issue comes in, but we will get there.
At the beginning of the year, I grabbed drinks with the first guy I would agree to a second date with since moving south. We met around 8-ish and talked our way through the evening. I remember being surprised when we had ran into "last call." Little Rock is wonderful, but it is much different than Kansas City. It is not uncommon for establishments in Little Rock to close much earlier than I am use to and so I figured it was one of those kind of things, but to my surprise it was close to 1:30 in the morning. It was easy to agree to a next day second date when he asked and just like that things were kind of moving along. The daily texting that is modern dating and intermittent dates. Without getting into too many details, there were issues with scheduling and time that made it tough for us to see each other regularly and that would be the case until the summer, but it worked for our busy lifestyles. A second date turned into a third and on. As things moved forward, there started to be signs that having something more serious was definitely a possibility many months down the road. And after a weekend of a couple of great dates that timing thing started to show its ugly head. But first let's go back to that baggage. I have never been on a date with someone who doesn't have some kind of baggage and some people handle it much better than others, but we all have the horror relationship story that has changed us, scared us, scarred us. Plus whatever baggage we carry with us from our childhood, college years, and careers. I had a moment where he got to see one of my moments of weakness. They are moments that often pass by quickly, but sometimes are stronger than others for me. And I asked that dreaded question, "where do you think this is going?" I thought I already knew the answer I was going to get. You know, all those signs that when the scheduling worked its self out and things really started to progress months down the road there were really possibilities there. Not just passing time. But it turns out the signs were actually written in latin and I can't really read latin. After a few weeks of uncertainly, it became clear our timing was off. I was open to whatever may come, including the possibility of stronger feelings and commitment and he was still living with the horrors of a previous relationship. We just weren't on the same page. The lesson of timing.
When I was visiting home, my sister asked the question, "if this doesn't work its self out are you going to quit dating for awhile again." She was there during the days where I adamently was never dating and so she was probably dreading the whining saga that she thought could be coming. While I would never say that dating is paradise, I decided awhile ago it was worth it anyway. So I'll continue at least kind of dating, but if you ask if I'm dating the answer of course will be no. :)
The Hiking Story
In recent months, I met someone who made the comment that "I feel everything so strongly." Well it is difficult for me to argue that point. I try to emmerse myself in my life: the blessings, the disappointments, the sadness, the pure joy. There have been plenty of moments in my life that have been anything but happy and so I have found different passions that send me into straight euphoria. Hiking is one of those passions. Breathing in the fresh air, hearing the streams, being completely off the grid, and constantly being in motion forward help me to reset. I occasionally will listen to music, but mostly I just listen to the silence and leave myself in my own head. I find clarity and answers during these soul searching times. But above all of the self revealing moments, I just love to be outside. With a little help from a local, I picked out my big Portland hike. I was going to skip the more touristy and busy hikes(especially as it was spring break) and I was headed for Salmon River just a hour from Portland. The Salmon River trail is what is called a dogbone. It goes out, there is a small loop at the end, and then you come back the same way, but I was going to continue pass the loop to make my way towards a much bigger loop that went around the whole park. I made my way along the trail enjoying the endless green and the river that the path follows along. It took so little time before the euphoria took over and I was smiling like a 6 year old on Christmas(or me on Christmas.) As I got to the loop which was in the bluffs over the river, I traveled along and across several streams. Proud of the performance of my new hiking boots keeping my feet dry. I found myself at the sign the signified a new trail was ahead and I headed on forward towards my large loop. All and all I was going to finish at a little less than 15 miles. My new trail was a bit exhausting. It gained about 2500 in elevation. I started to see bits of snow here and there and eventually as I continued higher and higher up I found myself in mid-calf snow. There was a moment I considered turning back right as I started getting into the snow, but then I told myself that ahead of me was 6 miles and behind me was 9 miles. I am a bit of a hard head. When I get committed to mission, it is almost impossible for me to back down and give up. So, I had continued on and had found myself in mid-calf snow when all signs of a trail abruptly stop. No more foot prints, no signs, no life. Did I mention I was hard headed? With the lake visible, I knew that it was about a half a mile before I should hit a parking lot and start heading down the bluffs. So again, I made the decision to move forward. After a tough and exhausting 10-ish minutes of trying to find signs of a trail and moving forward(falling a couple times), I found myself taking a step and the snow came up to mid-thigh. I stopped and looked around. I wasn't even sure I was on the ground anymore. It was time to admit defeat. Knowing there was so much less in front of me and 9 miles behind me, I had a moment where I considered panicking. Instead I turned around and followed my own footsteps back to the trail, down the bluffs, and made great time making it back to the car before dark. The sight of the car is probably one of the most satifying moments I have had. I was exhausted, sore, and ready to plug back into the world. I got a lot out of that "little" hike. I got to feel the complete euphoria that comes from hiking, I enjoyed the beautiful views the Portland area has to offer, and I reminded myself how incredible I am and how magnificent the human body is. Needless to say, I spent a couple of very sore days throwing back some naproxen.