“It’s Required By Law To Talk About The Year That Was”

One unexpected side-effect of living in a car-centric city that gets a lot of snow is that people don’t do a good job of clearing the sidewalks. Down W. 6th Street and St. Clair, one of Cleveland’s premiere night life spots, there are wide stretches of ice and packed snow in front of restaurants and bars, with half-hearted attempts to create pathways visible in the layers of old snow fall. There’s little foot traffic here, even in Downtown, and there’s not much need to keep the sidewalks clear, especially near the parking lots. That there are few pedestrians, that you pretty much have to drive a car to do anything: these are things I’m getting used to.

Grace and I were actually in Cleveland for the first time just over a year ago, for the just-before-Christmas residency interview for CCF. We stayed at the Clinic’s cheap hotel, arriving on Saturday for the Monday appointment. There wasn’t much snow then, and New York was actually colder; Cleveland was almost balmy in comparison. I spent that Monday driving around the Clinic area to get a feel for the place — the immediate neighborhood is crappy (Not four blocks from the hotel, I actually saw something I had only seen in movies: a flaming oil drum sitting in front of an abandoned house. No one was there, warming his hands, though. Strangely, within sight of the flaming oil drum was new housing construction going up.) — because all the museums around University Circle were closed on Mondays. (I still haven’t gotten to the museums yet, but plan to in the next month or so.) Seeing that the immediate neighborhood was crappy served a purpose: if we matched at CCF, we weren’t going to live that close to the hospital. I tried to do similar neighborhood scouting trips for all the other interview trips I tagged along on.

The residency interviews at the end of last year and the beginning of this year took the two of us from coast to coast over the span of a few weeks. A few days in Cleveland, and then off to Seattle for University of Washington. Greenwich, CT for the first-year internship by train (I haven’t taken that route since working for Newgate almost ten years ago. Grace went by herself to Boston, Rochester, Baltimore and New Haven, as well as the various New York City hospitals. We were also in Sacramento for Davis, but we were also there to get married the week before. Four years of medical school climaxed in March for residency match: everything between then and the start of residency is coda. Match Day puts everything in motion: the journeys at the beginning of the year now have a clear destination.

From mid-March to the beginning of June (just before the start of Grace’s residency) was the time to find a place to live in Cleveland while selling the apartment in New York, and, of course, moving. The first part took one weekend in April, and landing this apartment was perhaps more a matter of luck than good planning. The New York apartment sale took about two months from listing to accepted offer — which came when we were heading to Cleveland ahead of the moving van — and wasn’t the worst thing in the world, if only because of the massive arbitrage opportunity between Cleveland and Manhattan housing assets (though this was more a cash-out than a buy; we’ll need an accountant for this tax season to make sure the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted for the somewhat unusual real estate capital gains exemptions we’re applying).

To sustain the cost of carrying both apartments, I stayed and continued to work in New York until just before closing, which didn’t happen until early October for various reasons. These were the months of the air mattress, with a lot of time spent on the phone with Grace. (Vonage was great for this, though we had a few set up problems with the the premises wiring interfering with the ATA.) I think I was also saying goodbye to New York City, though I never did ride that double-decker tourist bus, snapping photos of landmarks and grinning silly. (And the New York Times had a summer reading supplement, where they serialized a number of novels, so regular readers could follow a whole novella from Monday through Sunday. That month, they had Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and Holly’s line about coming back to New York years and years from now with her nine Brazilian brats, “because, yes, they must see this, these lights, the river — I love New York, even though it isn’t mine,” struck me as true. “Years and years from now….”)

Somewhere in the midst of all this, we managed to have belated wedding receptions for friends and family on the East Coast (seeing many people we hadn’t seen in a while), as well as celebrate Grace’s graduation — a large Doctor of Medicine diploma now hangs in a black frame on the brick wall of the home office. And there was wrapping up work at Random Walk: I’ve been there since just before Y2K, and I was there for longer than anywhere else I’ve worked. But part of the job was to prepare the way for my eventual replacement, and I’d like to think that was something I did well; Barry’s now my boss, and he’s doing great.

I’ll probably start seriously looking for work in Cleveland in a few months, but the immediate plans are to live off the arbitrage gains for a while: catch up on reading, watch a bunch of DVDs, learn how to bake, practice aikido and judo, and, yes, go to museums. This was a year in motion, and I’m going to take it easy for a little while.

Comments are closed.