The months that led up to Match Day were pretty stressful for me. I was in that med school relationship purgatory where my boyfriend (it makes me feel 11 to say that word) and I were in a serious relationship but we were not engaged. If we were engaged, I had imagined wistfully, submitting my rank list would have been so much easier. I would rank the program at my medical school #1 without a doubt since he would still be there, finishing up an MD-PhD. Even though I REALLY liked a couple of other programs that were in other cities. One city on the other side of the country.
But Christmas and Valentine's Day and other perfectly fine occasions for him to pop the question and appear on bended knee came and went and I was feeling a little - how shall I say - frustrated. To put it nicely. In actuality, I was going a little insane. I remember initiating serious conversations about this: where are we going? We need to do some planning. You know, all of those conversation starters that cause men to start sweating and looking for the nearest exit. But I needed to know: is this the real thing? Do I put this relationship before my real program preferences? I thought other programs might be a better fit for me and what I wanted to eventually do.
In the end, I ended up ranking the program at my school first. I also had a lot of positive feedback from the program, leading me to believe it would be pretty much of a sure thing. Yet, still, I was nervous on Match Day. What if there was a computer glitch? What if they were just telling me I was a shoo-in? What if I ended up somewhere far away?
He was with me as we gathered with all of my classmates in the big hall. I had picked up my sealed envelope from a faculty carrying the envelopes for students with my last name letter. We stood around in informal clumps, around friends and some family for the magic words at 12 noon, informing us that we could open our envelopes and find our fate.
It was time. I opened the envelope and pulled out a surprisingly small slip of paper with only the name of the program I had matched into: My school's.
It was not a surprise or an elation but a relief. A huge relief.
Some classmates were more vocal. There were shouts of joy, a buzz of "Congratulations", there were hugs and hugs all around. It was a very emotional, joyful moment. In the beginning.
But when the dust settled a bit, and the flurry of happiness fluttered down, I started to notice that not everyone was happy. Some of my classmates were quiet, bummed. Some look like they were spun, confused, trying to be positive. And some were in tears. A good friend of mine, in fact, was in tears. It wasn't all happy.
But like that, all of us were going somewhere. Some to places they dreamed about. Some to places they wished they had never ranked. And I, was staying.
In the week to follow, my boyfriend and I took our planned student-budget trip to San Francisco, touring Napa Valley, taking mud baths in Calistoga, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway and stopping occasionally for impromptu picnics.