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The Journey Back

July 12, 2008

I know how you feel, Tess

Its been so surreal being back in Kirksville. By the time I headed to Denver, I had been in Kirksville for 6 years. And though I obviously made advances in my life professionally, in my mind, I felt very stagnant. Going to Denver woke me up and there, I feel like I became the person I always knew I could be. I at first felt like coming back to Kirksville would be a big step back, that I could only sustain my new confidence and peace of mind in Denver. However, that has not been the case. I have been very comfortable in Kirksville. I no longer have all the negative feelings and insecurities I carried during college and the first 2 years of medical school. I am actually fitting back in really well.

The first night back was… an adventure. Dad & I had just driven 14 hours with a giant UHaul and the 2 dogs only to arrive to a house with no running water or air conditioning. There was no fence installed either, so at midnight, I drove the dogs up to the field next to Walmart. On the way back, I picked up 4 jugs of water to water the dogs, wash my face and fill the toilets enough to flush. It was a cool enough night that opening all the windows sufficed to keep it cool enough to sleep. We set up the mattress in the living room that I slept on with the dogs, while Dad slept on the floor in one of the upstairs bedrooms. I said I would sleep on the floor b/c my 30 yrs younger back could take it, but he insisted that it would be “fun” to sleep on the floor. It would remind him of when he was in boy scouts. We both actually slept really well, but after the long day we had, we probably could have slept on concrete.

The next day we unloaded the whole truck by ourselves. It was a stroke of luck that it was overcast most of the day. I had heard it was either extremely hot & muggy, or raining all day everyday in the weeks before we came. So I felt like God was saying, “Michelle, I know you’re not used to humidity yet, lets make the transition a little smoother with some nice weather.” Other than that relief, it was a very hard day with all the unloading and wrangling of the dogs, with brief interludes of panting on the couch and dousing my head with ice water. I have never in my life felt so disgusting. We hadn’t showered for 3 days, and my hair was seriously matted from being stuffed under a hat. At the end of the day, we threw the dogs and overnight stuff in the car and headed back to St. Louis. (What, did you think Dad was gonna live with me?) The whole ride we talked about how all we wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed. Yet when we arrived, all we wanted to do was drink margaritas and watch TV. Around 3am and 3 rounds later, we were like…”There was something we were going to do when we got here….what was it again? Oh ya, I smell! Shower ho!” I hopped in the shower and nearly fell asleep standing up, since it did actually take quite a few rinses to get the dreadlocks under control. I managed to then crawl into bed and pass out until Roxy attacked my face at 11 the next morning.

The trip back to St. Louis was just what I needed. It had been a very physically and emotionally taxing week. Going to Dad’s is always like a spa weekend for me, away from all the pressures of bills, cooking, cleaning, and now, a whole house to unpack. I spent this particular weekend chilling on the couch, watching Colin & Justin reruns, and eating the Missouri foods I missed, like China King and Big Momma’s BBQ. I must say, Denver had superior food in most respects, but they could never get crab rangoons or pulled pork quite right.

I had planned on leaving around 2pm, having dinner with Jesse, starting to unpack, and waiting for my temporary roommate & fellow OMM fellow (tee hee) Bethany to arrive. I actually left around 7pm. Y’see, these highly productive plans to leave my Dad’s at a decent time never actually happen. The 3 hour trip back to somewhere without AC, internet, or TV becomes very daunting the closer the departure time gets, and I find any excuse to delay it. It worked out though. Bethany let herself in with the key under the mat. I met up with Jesse & Neil later for a beer, which they apparently needed just as much as I needed that margarita at Dad’s. They had been working all week on moving to Arizona. They had even more shit to move, so they had to pack an actual moving van, and then had farther to go. Did you know Arizona is 24 hours from Missouri?? Yikes! So I was very happy to see them off the night before with a couple rounds at the good ol’ Dukum Inn.

Since then I have been getting slowly settled into the new place. It is such a weird feeling to be above ground again. I didn’t realize I missed looking out a window so much. I also didn’t realize I had so much shit. Everyday I unpack box after box and the pile doesn’t seem to get much smaller. I have uncovered all the stuff I need to live normally though. I’ve assembled the bed, hung up my clothes, stocked the kitchen, and got my computer hooked up. I am good to go. And Jesse contributed a whole fridge’s worth of food and a lifetime supply of trash cans.

I’ve also gotten started on my OMM fellowship, and in doing so, I was reminded why coming back here was absolutely the right decision. I’ve been shadowing in the OMM clinic a couple afternoons a week and I have already seen some pretty magical things. Revolutionary things really. Things that make me proud to be a real DO and that make me want to cry when I think about how most of the medical world has no idea about what is done here. People have told me I am good at OMM, but I always knew I had only been exposed to the tip of the iceberg. I am so excited to be in the presence of these masters.

When I’m not shadowing, I am doing various tasks for office and lab upkeep, like inventory and call schedules. I didn’t think I would like the office work, but Bethany and Zach (the other fellow) make the day fly. They both have the same weird, profane, sometimes abusively sarcastic sense of humor I do, and have the same work ethic of “hey, we’re all little OCD overachievers who are gonna get the job done damn well, but lets not take ourselves too seriously either.”

Outside of work, I’m actually enjoying small town life again. I had forgotten just how nice it can be. Strangers smile and say hi to me on the street. My commute is 2 minutes and there’s never any traffic. Hell, if it weren’t so muggy, I could walk to work in 10 minutes. I’m able to come home at lunch and make a proper lunch, walk the dogs at the lake across the street from me, and get in an episode of Judge Judy before I have to head back.

Another perk is being so close to family & friends. At my disposal in town, I have a few of Josh’s (& mine of course) old friends that I can call to help around the house in exchange for OMM or dinners. Also, the 1st weekend back in St. Louis, I was able to hang out with Katie! Jesse is farther away than ever, but I’m at least closer to one of my girls (and I have an actual income and vacation time now, so for the first time, I can really afford to visit Jesse or anyone else far away). Then there’s the closeness to Dad’s. Last weekend I went back to St. Louis for 4th of July weekend. He lives in a small town similar to Kirksville, only with more Germans and drinking, so I still got the benefit of small town celebrations. Sure, Denver or St. Louis have the bigger fireworks displays, but you don’t get the relaxed atmosphere of the whole community gathered together with lawn chairs and bonfires and BBQ and sparklers, hearing all the little kids ooh and ahh at the fireworks display that is always more impressive when you know there wasn’t the big city funds to do it.

The only thing missing is Josh. He’s still back in Denver finishing up at gunsmithing school until October. We’re both fiercely independent people and I think its safe to say we have a relationship that most cannot relate to, but we are also extremely close and secure in what we have. I miss him, but I think we are both having some fun on this sort of adventure apart. Sure its hard, but like the big move a couple weeks ago, its kinda fun in a “roughing it” sort of way. I get the bed to myself. I am for the first time, sort of a “single mom” to the pups. I have more time to study for the COMLEX, go to kickboxing classes, read, and just in general concentrate on “me” sort of activities. Plus its sorta romantic talking on the phone at night, writing eachother notes, and planning weekend visits. Still, when I go make myself a boring meal for one, or I see Roxy doing something terribly cute, I wish he could be there to share it with me. I get by knowing its only temporary, and that this is the last time we’ll be apart for any length of time.

So, Kirksville, I’m back. And for at least the next 2 years I’m here to stay. Because apparently 6 years here wasn’t enough for me.

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