Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Nine years ago yesterday, Baroy and I got married. Two Jews tying the knot on St. Patrick's Day. We signed our marriage certificate in green ink.

When I got to my office in the morning--my still-newish office in the main administrative building on campus, which overlooks the medical school's main quad--I was greeted with the sight of lavishly set tables in the quad featuring green tablecloths under white tablecloths. It reminded me of my wedding, which had a green and cream theme.

These tables weren't for me, though. They were for the medical students. Yesterday was 'match day' at medical schools across the country, a day when the graduating class finds out where they'll be spending their internships and residencies. (Afterwards, there is music and dancing and food and celebrating, as they share the news with one another, call families, console friends, whatever. Hence the tables.)

The process of matching, for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of observing it firsthand, is absolutely byzantine, involving multiple interviews at places across the country, and then a mutual 'ranking' system that is then fed into a computer in an attempt to match doctors with positions available at the hospitals that want them in the most mathematically inane way possible.

At this school, Match Day starts with a breakfast and speeches from the dean of the medical school as well as the dean of students, and then the students file out to tables set up by the library, where they receive the envelope informing them of their match. There is much whooping, much hollering, much crying, much mourning. There are people who don't get a match at all, who then spend the next few hours doing what is called 'the scramble,' in which they literally just start calling internship programs one after another, trying to find one which didn't fill its roster and which would like to take them on. Talk about rejection. And remember, these are medical students, the smart kids, the ones who are generally not accustomed to any sort of failure.

This is the first year that I've had a literal bird's-eye view of the proceedings, and I'll tell you, it was fascinating to watch from behind glass several stories above the festivities. I watched women embracing, men slapping each other on the back, jumping in the air. I watched shoulders slump and then shake. I watched tears stream down faces.

It was weird, inwardly celebrating the anniversary of the birth of my marriage, and watching these young people celebrating the birth of their careers. Or mourning. I sort of wanted to go down and tell them to calm down, to realize that no matter where they're heading, the journey is just beginning, and there are going to be ups and downs and triumphs and regrets and if you think all is made or lost because of the way a computer matches you with an internship program, you are sadly mistaken. Things change. People change, circumstances change. Life chugs along, I wanted to say, and it takes you with it. No matter what you think you found out today, I wanted to say, I can guarantee you that your life won't even vaguely resemble your vision of it right now. So don't worry so much. Sit back and enjoy the proverbial ride. Don't forget to look out the window every now and again. And make sure to celebrate the milestones along the way.

Nine years. It staggers me.

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