Grapes and Wine

June 12, 2008

You start with seeds and their finite potential. You are going to make something great with this field and these seeds. You plant them, water them, love and dote on them. They are nurtured and they sweeten in the sun. And then, when they cannot grow this way any more, you pluck the best.

You take these grapes, throw them into a barrel, and ignore them. You don’t give them sun, activity, or anything familiar. It’s quite a shock to the grapes. You do this for years. And years.

Out pops wine.

Pretty inefficient, but I don’t know how I would fix it. I don’t know that trying to speed it up won’t make for something unpalatable. I guess I just have to deal with the ignoring and waiting until those grapes magically turn themselves into something more.

Pretty much what the third year of medical school has felt like. I haven’t written about it.

Before, my shtick was looking around and sort of cataloging all the interesting things that were happening around me. Not a lot of introspection going on. Nothing to write about inside the barrel that is my hospital. Or there is, but that’s not the story.

The story is the fermenting. My classmates and I are taking on new flavors and textures. A few might be prematurely alcoholic. Others have lost their sweetness. Most rougher for the wear and rarely anyone smoother.

And it is incredible.

I put up a hell of a fight. A nine month spectacle of twisting, thrashing and spitting. On March 5th, 2008, I broke. Emotionally. Mentally. Broke. It was awful. I haven’t written about it because I’m unsure on these new, wobbly legs.

But for the first time I know what language is supposed to do. I know how people reward their physicians. I understand patience. I have experienced the risks and rewards of vulnerability. What is and is not important has been impossibly rearranged in my head. When I look at the decisions I am making now, I don’t recognize them as coming from my past. All of it seems to come from very different stuff.

But then you never could have told me, after I rolled one around in my mouth, that grapes could give way to wine.