The breeze blowing in my car window is a little too cold, but I don’t roll the window up. The coolness keeps me awake, and the smells of thawing mud and fresh grass, the sounds of crickets and frogs, remind me that I am home. I love this place – the beautiful, old mountains and the people who live in them, with their cows and tobacco fields and banjos. I love this place, this is home, and I am leaving. I am about to fly 2580 miles across the country and settle down for 5 years at the University of California, Berkeley, where I will live in the city and hear sirens instead of crickets, smell exhaust fumes instead of flowers and dirt. But I am choosing to go, and I believe that this is the right choice. I believe that I will go there and I will come back a physician prepared to deal with the challenges of uninsured, underserved patients here, at home.
I believe that I will come home. I feel such relief when, driving back from a weekend away, I hit Asheville and see my mountains; somehow the mountains suck you in, make you fall in love, and I don’t believe I can stay away from them forever. In order for me to leave, I have to believe that someday I will come back home. It is hard to leave my family, the family that, at 21, I’m just now learning to really appreciate. But I believe that I can be present to them, and they to me, without their physical presence, and I believe that somehow we’ll make do with holidays and frequent flier miles. And someday, I believe, I will come back.
In the end, I believe leaving is good for me. Already, the knowledge that I am leaving makes me love the crickets more, makes me cherish my family more. I wasn’t even sure that I believed in home before. Now that I am leaving, I believe in home.
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