I did go back. I gave myself a lecture about not knowing unless I tried. I also told an old professor of mine about the idea; he said I should absolutely follow through. So I went. I parked, noted the level, color, and number of my parking spot before I went in.
Dr. McC was nice. He was retired, in his late seventies or early eighties. We chatted, I told him my bottom line was that I wanted to go to medical school if it’s possible for someone like me. By someone like me I meant, forty years old, retarded in math, and with an unrelated undergraduate degree. I wanted an honest assessment of the likelihood I would be able to finish school and find a job.
Well part of me wanted that. Another part of me wanted him to talk to me for a few minutes and say that because I was so beautiful and intelligent, so sparkling and articulate that he could see no alternative but to drop me into a slot that just came open in a special program for math idiots who love medicine and anatomy.
We hashed it out together a little while and he calculated I could be ready for medical school in maybe 3 years, doing the chemistry and other math I would need, a little at a time. In the end, I would probably be close to 50 when I came out of the process. I would be competing (not sure how that works) with other baby docs who were in their 20’s. I would be the oldest graduate, or maybe the 2nd oldest graduate their program had ever had. He couldn’t recommend it. He wasn’t going to say it was impossible….
We tried to talk about other options in related fields. Epidemiology dovetails nicely with my anthropology background, yadda yadda yadda. I’m not going to be a doctor. It just isn’t in the cards in this life. I hunted down my car and went to process.
By not telling my close friends and family, I had created a weird situation for myself. I was sad. I was disappointed. But now I was also embarrassed. Nobody really knew I went to do this stupid thing, so if I wanted them to support me now, I’d have to tell them the whole story. The Whole Story.
I’d have to tell them about losing my car, about returning a Second Time to do battle with the cranky receptionist and the car-eating ramp. About picturing myself having to cut open a cadaver in class, about leaving my stethoscope on as I left my imaginary office, about being the oldest in a class full of young punks, but busting my butt and getting respect. It would be a difficult story to get across.
So I ended up spending a weekend, maybe a week, being ornery and sad, but not able to lean on the people I was closest to. Why? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.
I’ve decided I sort of manufactured this whole situation. I hadn’t lost anything. Nothing in my day to day life had changed. All that happened is that I talked and daydreamed myself into an idea, then I got the brutal truth. When that daydream bubble burst it exposed a few things that were real that I needed to deal with:
I am getting older. I can no longer be anything I want, even if I work hard, even if I’m smart. Ouch.
I will never make as much money as my husband, never be able to support him the way he has supported me; nor could I support myself if he disappeared. That bothers me.
I am not an expert in anything, I probably will never be one.
I will always be average, which is one of my deepest fears. I need to approach this demon and look it in the eye. Deep breath.
Watch this space for updates on phase 3 of my life. I went straight from Childhood to Parenthood and now I’m about to be ready for what’s next.