Still on night float for two more months. Still hating it. I don't get to see many people, and have so far spent most of my evenings sitting in the depressing little call room watching Netflix. I think I've watched All About Eve four times alone... I loaf around the house in a haze most of the day, telling myself to stop eating. Moving this past weekend did nothing for my energy levels. I've been called four or five times about the same patient that the day team has certified for inpatient psych once medically cleared. This patient is one of the few people that I would call cookoo. If Bob Marley and Stevie Nicks had a child, this patient is it.
Somehow this evening I ended up in a Facebook chat with one of my parents' long-time friends back in Georgia. She asked me when I was coming back to Georgia, and before I could answer she said "never, right?" To which I replied, "never is a long time." It got me thinking, though. I don't have any pressing urge to move back to Georgia. I wouldn't complain should circumstances take me there (I've very much become a go-where-life-takes-me kinda guy) but at the moment I associate the place with attitudes, habits, and institutions that I have emancipated myself from (though the word is far more dramatic than the process). Perhaps it's because I grew up in the WASP-y suburbs and later lived in a distinctly rural area; the political environment of both being dominated by IMHO religious zealots. I was not happy there, though I cannot say with certainty if I was unhappy because of where I was physically, or where I was emotionally. Either way, I find the environment outside of the South much more pleasant to be in, at least socially. For a region that loves to prattle on about simplicity and the down-home unpretentious character of its people the South is an incredibly dandified place. It's a quagmire of unspoken, unwritten, contradictory rules, face-saving pretenses, and a whole bunch of "you just do/don't do that" with no explanations. It drives me crazy, and in retrospect it was a bit smothering to an inquisitive kid who always had a hard time fitting in with convention. While other kids were woofing at the Dawgs because their parents did, I was playing tennis, reading books about Germany, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. I read the Hardy Boys and Goosebumps but I also read Jules Verne, Dickens, and Gone with the Wind. I listened to Garth Brooks, but I also listened to Patsy Cline when I was ten. In college while most people went to Florida for spring break and summer vacation, I was doing research in Armenia, and riding the rails in Germany. Now, I have some wonderful memories of childhood, so it certainly wasn't all bad. But being an adult with, ya know, thoughts, instead of repetitive rhetoric doesn't go over very well with people who weren't taught to think. Perhaps if I lived in Atlanta proper things would be different...a door I may always leave open.
But I digress, this conversation reminded me of another conversation I had with the same individual (we call her CB, short for Church Bulletin because she is an excellent source of information) either just before, or not long after I had moved to Chicago. She privately told me that while she halfheartedly talked with my mother about me moving back to Georgia after I finished medical school and wherever I did residency, she felt that "once he leaves, he's not coming back. I think he's gone." I wonder now what she knew then that I still don't know...and how despite years of trying to hide myself, it may have been obvious to others than I needed to spread my wings. This was about three years ago now, and at that point in my life I had lived in two countries and two (three?) different states in the span of less than two years. I had made no concrete plans about anything other than hoping to wake up the next day and finish this exercise in indentured servitude called medical school.
As a result of such a whirlwind, I do not feel that I identify with a place or group anymore. I used to identify as a Southerner, who never wanted to leave or do anything else; very much "American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God" mentality. Now I identify as someone who was born and raised in the South. But as a result of my experiences I don't feel I can call myself a full-blown Southerner. I have many Southern characteristics and mannerisms. I have an accent that comes and goes--though to my chagrin hear myself more and more throwing in nasal Midwestern vowels. Unlike a great many Southerners I'm perfectly happy to explore the world outside of the South, and not as a tourist.