I am writing this unaware of what Ave has already written. I thought it would be interesting to write independently and then see how our reflections on the year compare (or conflict!).
My year was divided exactly in two (to the day!) by July 1st, 2008. Wait, you must be thinking, shouldn’t the day Ave and I got married be the defining day? Well after much thought, the answer is simply no. What follows is a narrative/explanation.
Chapter 1: January 1st to June 30th
The first half of my (our) year was one of exciting and rapid changes. In March, I matched to my first choice residency program: Radiology at the University of Toronto. That meant that my dream of becoming a radiologist, and our shared desire to return to Ontario were simultaneously fulfilled. Those months were full of anticipation as we planned out our wedding and began looking for a place to live in Toronto. In June I graduated with my MD and the day after, Ave and I got married at Strawberry Creek, Alberta. We packed up the car and began a cross-country tour as newlyweds, first to the west coast, and then back to Ontario (about 7000 kms in all). I had been off of school/work for nearly 2 months at that point and felt free like no other time in recent memory.
Those six months were the best of times. It was our last six months in Edmonton; I had my last few meetings with the boys club (including of course celebratory cuban incenindery rods and eau de vie); We had our last walks in the river valley, X-Box tournaments and back-yard bar-b-que’s (what is a back yard again anyways?). We ate and drank and soaked in the end of an era.
Chapter 2: July 1st to Present
Well, the second half of the year was a little different. Our wedding is not the dividing point of the year in my mind just as the climax of a story is never the end of the book but rather its fulfillment before the story’s resolution. Our wedding and my convocation was the culmination of the past 5 years of my life. Our honeymoon and trek back to Toronto ended the era and began the next one.
July 1st I started residency, which heralded paychecks (and bills), new responsibilities both at work and at home and much anxiety. I donned my shackles, er, pager, and had my introduction to the standard 26 hour workday. More than anything, I felt (and still feel) that my time is no longer my own. My choices now are principally how I choose to deal with the situations I am dealt rather than the world being my blank canvas. Maybe that is just a part of growing up, I don’t know.
Being married is great though. I look at my single friends and wonder how on earth they can make it through residency. Avery has been and remains my refuge, my universal supporter, personal gourmet chef and supermodel. Sometimes the thought of coming home to her the next morning is all that keeps me going at 3 am when I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours.
So here we are, and here I am. Working and married life is here to stay (I have to say I like one a lot more than the other). I am now a husband, physician, sleep deprived zombie. I’ve thought briefly about starting to buy lottery tickets . . . but have resolved myself to push onward, find the good in my job, be present always and open myself to the endless possibilities that I believe still lie beneath the surface. I resolve to work out a new complicated freedom that will be, perhaps, even better than the previous one.
I have restarted this letter a couple of times by now. I left a month between the first two drafts and I feel that my thoughts have changed too much from then to keep it as my final draft. I am trying to reflect on 2008 when 2009 is quite fresh. Christmas feels so long ago. We are almost through the bleak ending of winter. The monochromatic landscape is shifting from whites and greys to browns. Soon there will be an abundance of colour.
By this time last year, Zak had already finished his interviews for his residency at many different schools across the country. We were anxiously awaiting the results of where we would live for the next five years. Perhaps March is like the beginning of a new year for as it was when things were set in motion for us last year.
I look back in my journal and find that I felt like we were holding our breath until we found out where we were moving. Once we found out we were moving to Toronto we began planning the wedding, our move and finding an apartment. I also feel that our last few months in Edmonton (March-June) I felt the most alive and involved in a community than I had felt in the three years preceding. I was settling into prairie life. I was actively involved in our church through Girls club, College and Career and occasionally in worship services. I was integrated into Campus life through my job at CaPS, and I was enjoying my studies. I was soaking up as much of my favourite place as in Edmonton as I could – the river valley. I went for many runs breathing in the landscape each time as though each time was my last time there.
I learned a great deal of who I am and who I am in relation to Zak, while I was in Edmonton. We started making a life for ourselves in Edmonton because at first we only had each other, we were so far away from family.
Now that we have moved to Toronto we are learning again what it is like to make a home together. We are very happy to be living close to our families again and make many visits to St. Catharines, the Cottage (Allenford) and Kitchener-Waterloo. We are struggling to find a community in this new place (Toronto) and new landscape that we now live in. We have been living downtown for our first 8 months here and we feel quite disconnected from the landscape and the people that are around us. It is a very populated area, but we barely even see our neighbors in our apartment hall. It has been difficult for me to get used to the lack of green space here as well. There are trees scattered throughout the downtown lining the streets, but it seems as though they are barely surviving – they are surrounded by concrete and have only a small patch of dirt to collect water.
Our fate is not as bleak as the trees lining the streets downtown though – we have found a church community at Toronto United Mennonite. We are slowly getting to know the people there and there are many couples our age as well. This spring we hope to find an apartment in the High Park/Roncesvalles area – which is a community beside a park that is almost 400 acres! We hope to enjoy many runs, walks and picnics there.