I’LL (only) BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: Peace Boston & Howdy…

Current tunes: Carolina In My Mind, James Taylor

 “I was homesick at the time…well I didn’t have a home but that doesn’t keep you from being homesick sometimes.” -James Taylor, Carolina In My Mind LIVE

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After 166 days of being gone I am finally back on sweet, sweet California soil! My time in Boston while working at Boston Medical Center marks the longest I have ever spent away from where I was raised, let alone my family. Usually, I have this ridiculously cheesy tradition of listening to Michael Buble’s “Home” whenever I am on a return flight to the Valley, but for some reason this time around I just wasn’t feeling it. Instead as I gazed out the window I was overcome with a feeling of familiarity, yet it was somehow tainted by a twinge of underlying discomfort at the same time.  I hovered closer and closer to the grid-like fields of Fresno and I started to think about the beautiful chaos that is Boston, with its twists, cobblestones, and one way streets that mark the beginnings of America. Don’t get me wrong, I think Fresno is perfect for families. In fact the more I explore urban jungle life, I am grateful for the small town life of Kingsburg and my weird first generation, immigrant child upbringing (read all about that and my hometown in my most favorite post here). But now, well, things are different now. For the first time I think I am having the realization that not coming back to settle here when I finish travel nursing is a very real possibility. And frankly, it’s a little frightening.

The adjustments of life needed for a West Coast suburbia transplant to live in Massachusetts were subtle at first. Like pronouncing the letter “R” at the end of a word is a mere suggestion (i.e. You can buy some chowdah and lobstah at Quincy Mahket!) and some even carry the belief that because America was born here, they are not the people with an accent. It’s everyone else that does. Or that it’s basically a sin to not own a Red Sox hat or believe Tom Brady sits on a thrown one tier below Jesus. That Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee, and always iced no matter the weather, is a staple of the Bostonian diet. And of course…the weather. Everyone kept obsessing over getting out their winter coat. Winter coat? In California, we just call it a coat.

When I left Boston Logan Airport it was a crisp 18 degrees with a storm brewing so I escaped the winter wonderland madness at the perfect moment. Just the week before I was walking home from work and noticed weird white specks landing on my (winter) coat. It was the first time I had ever walked in commute from somewhere with ice falling from the sky. What?! Okay before you lay down the judgement, my coworkers have repeatedly teased me for my lack of weather tolerance and I admit here and now that I am a weather princess. So there’s that. Snow is good for things like cuddling, making Hawaiian shaved ice, and Christmas. A visit to the snow, sure. Otherwise, to me it’s kind of like poison. I did not grow up in a ski/snowboarding family so I just never learned to have the appreciation for it. And I didn’t really plan on trying to learn the ways of that snow bunny life so I knew it was time to pack up. However, my curiosity about the East Coast has grown, and I even surprised myself when I decided to completely abandon my previous plans to head to Hawaii for my next assignment. I don’t know, I feel like I have some more living to do out here and in Boston I did a lot of searching. For adventure. Career advancements. Friendship. Love. And as lonely as some days have been, I have found my road to self discovery to be more challenging yet deeper when living each day outside of the comforts of my West Coast community.

So where now? Drumroll please…I am going to be a Blue Devil, y’all! I sealed the deal with a 13 week contract at Duke University Hospital in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. I chose Duke for a variety of reasons:

  • I wanted to stay East Coast but escape the absolute terror that is the New England winter. I hear it can snow there but is quite a step down from what Northeastern winters can be.
  • Duke University is known for its prestige as a learning facility and technologic advancements in health care. This one will definitely make my résumé more sparkly! Also I landed a spot in the Trauma/Surgical Intensive Care Unit aka back to my roots like I had in Fresno as far as the type of unit I will be working in and am thrilled to get back to trauma.
  • Yes, I admit that I am slightly enamored with the thought of southern charm living. Friendly smiles? Fried chicken and biscuits? A heavy appreciation for country music? Maybe I’m stereotyping…but if that’s what I am in for, gimmee, gimmee, gimmee!

Lastly I was intrigued with how different it will be in comparison to San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston. This time around I will not be living downtown nor will I rely on public transport. I’ll be renting a basement apartment from an older couple about ten minutes outside the city center. This place actually has a backyard with a fire pit and they raise honeybees…talk about a 180 from my SF/Boston apartments. But I think it’ll be nice to slow my pace a bit. And I’ll have my car again! It was awesome never having to deal with parking/traffic in Boston but you want to know how many watermelons I had to forgo purchasing this summer out of my reluctance to lug it on the bus/subway? And this girl needs her watermelon. I also am too scared to even take a peek at my Uber/Lyft ride sharing spend-age over the last six months…yikes.

 Surprisingly, I already miss Boston though. I met so many incredible people from all over the country- Connecticut, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Minnesota to name a few. I actually have a whole group of friends that are not from California now…wait there are cool people outside of the West Coast?!  Kidding guys :] But really, it was a blast. Now I have two more weeks left of FUNenmployment and am actually really enjoying it (other than not having cash flow and buying presents simultaneously). Last year I had my first Christmas alone and spent Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day with my patients in the hospital. I remember coming home to an empty apartment, cuddling up to my space heater, scarfing down Chinese takeout, and watching all the Christmas episodes of Friends. While it wasn’t the worst thing ever, I am SO happy to be reunited with the people I love most. I was also fortunate enough to spend a mini Phoenix holiday with my sister, brother-in-law, and their two beautiful munchkins when I was in transit to Fresno.  And no matter what I decide for my future, my family will always draw me back to this place and for that I am thankful.

In Christmas tradition, tomorrow I join my mother’s family in our annual Christmas Eve caroling through the hospital hallways of Saint Agnes Medical Center (my aunt works there and it’s the place where all of my sisters and I first breathed that sweet, smoggy Fresno air). I sure do love Christmas, and as it approaches, my prayer is that you are are snuggled up somewhere with people that give you purpose and make you feel home. Merry Christmas, Dandelion readers! Next time I post, I just may have a drawl.

Cheers and keep on wishin’,

Miriam

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