Friday, September 4, 2009

The Post-Grad Panic

Yesterday, after dropping the White Dog off at the groomer, which we refer to as her "spa day" around here, Pretty Little Bare Feet & I took some of my delicious maple ginger fudge to my mama's workplace.

(Yes, I am going to post photos&reviews of the maple ginger fudge recipe. & a separate, detailed post of last year's monster caramel apples, too.)

My mama is a wonderful, wonderful lady.

She's always been so proud of me & eager to show me off to her coworkers&patients, which has always humbled me & made me love her even more, for loving me so much. Of course now she is a doting granny to Pretty Little Bare Feet, who usually gets top billing for the showing off (which I don't mind a bit!).

When we were there yesterday, we met one of her oldest patients, "Mr. Scrape," for the first time - a tiny little black man with lots of crow's feet from years of smiling with his eyes.

Mr. Scrape asked me what kind of job I was doing. I told him that Pretty Little Bare Feet was my job right now & that I was loving it.

He said,

"Let me tell you a story...A long time ago, I had a job in an office on campus. It was just me & this one other fella in this office. & I'll never forget this one student that the professor we worked for was an advisor for. She was really smart, & she did one of those thesis projects, which take months&months of time to prepare. She spent so much time on it, & she worked so hard in all of her classes, & I'll never forget what happened to her. She came to campus the night before she started her first job, to do the last thing she needed to do for her degree, which was to defend her thesis. It was all of that hard work paying off. The next day she called the office to talk to the professor. He wasn't in, which is what I told her. & let me tell you, I could hear the PANIC in her voice. She was absolutely panicked, this girl. She had been at work all day at this new job in some office, & sometime after lunch she realized that she had nothing to study, no thesis to edit or prepare to defend, & her days of studying were finished&over. & she was completely&totally EMPTY. Ohhh, I could just feel the emptiness&loss in her panicked voice."

Well, bless his heart. Obviously this girl had made a great impression on him. I simply replied with,

"Yes, sir. I can completely relate to that girl's feelings. I also did a thesis for my undergraduate degree, & it is quite a shock to graduate & enter the working world after being surrounded by academics & devoting so much time to studying. I went through the same thing when I finished college several years ago."

The point Mr. Scrape was trying to make, at least I think, was probably that I was going to...need something to do? That I was going to go through some kind of post-grad panic myself? Some kind of haze of confusion or jarring jolt to reality? I honestly couldn't tell if he thought I was doing myself a disservice by staying at home with Pretty Little Bare Feet...or that I'd be doing myself a disservice by going to work one day...or whether he just tells this story to anybody he meets that has recently graduated.

Anyway, I CAN relate. I DID go through that post-grad panic after college. It's horribly lonely, realizing how mundane the real world can be. How cruel it is when your planner goes from full to empty in a matter of weeks, when you can't just pop downstairs to hang out on somebody's futon & drink their beer & philosophize about God&love&morality&time, when the bills are suddenly showing up in your name.

Any void that I felt after graduating from college has been filled with all of the things that have made tangible the philosophical questions&theories of my college days - true love, a sense of purpose, renewed faith, a desire to make my loved ones happy, the intent to keep myself healthy, the wholeness of family, the loyalty of a canine companion, shared laughter, well-tended friendships, & the gift of raising a child...which brings with it a whole other set of virtues that I'm grateful to have learned. 

I never spend my post-lunch afternoons in an empty post-grad panic, checking off databases & wondering if this is what life is really about. I spend these afternoons curled up on the couch with my precious cherub of a child, watching her sleep while I pet my dog, taking in the smells of supper slow-cooking in the kitchen, & smiling to myself when I receive a text message from my husband, in between patients, that says, "I love you."

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