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Nearly two weeks ago now, we received the incredibly good news that we have both matched into residency. Not into our first choice, but in a program which is doing amazing, innovative things and which felt like one of the best options for us. The interviews I had there were among the most up-front and honest of any I experienced on the interview trail, and I am certain this program will be an exceptional place for us to learn.

It was not our first choice, however, because it is not in New Orleans.

It is a little ironic to me that I am immediately following my previous post declaring New Orleans as home with one about having to leave it, and yet here I am. It has been such a roller coaster of emotion, glad to be moving forward, glad to be in a program I liked so much, excited about exploring a new place, but then it occurs to me that I am leaving this place and my heart aches.

It is 80 degrees here this week, mostly sunny although a storm is rolling in tonight. The trees and plants have fluffed out into the proportions of spring, and the tourists seem to be getting in a few more good weeks before the heat gets too bad. French Quarter Fest is two weeks from now, and since we’re close enough to walk this year I’m planning on soaking it up. We still haven’t finished sorting the last of the Mardi Gras beads, and I guess the plans for next year’s costumes are going to have to be on hold. We have invites from friends for dinner, lunch, puppy play dates, and/or coffee every week. I get to feed random friends on a semi-regular basis. We’re finally making inroads at synagogue, and I’m going to miss both our priest and our rabbi.

I’m going to miss New Orleans for its quirky spirit, for the glorious weather, for the community of friends we have here. I’m going to miss walking the dog down to Cafe du Monde for beignets, running in City Park, and knowing that when we go out to dinner, we’re going somewhere local and eating food we can’t find anywhere else. I’m going to miss St. James Cheese Co. and the Creole Creamery and Sucre. I’m even going to miss the bizarre roads that go in strange directions, are full of potholes, and have names that only locals are sure how to pronounce.

We’re determined to come back here as soon as we can, but there’s no telling if it’s going to be next year or ten years from now. I really am grateful for the opportunity ahead of us, and I know we’re going to discover amazing things about the new city, but I’m still sad about leaving this place I’ve come to call home.

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Recently, the university administration has started collecting information to put in the graduation bulletins. Where did you go to undergrad? What are your previous degrees? Where is your hometown?

Most of these are no-brainers, but I stopped short in my response when I came to that last question. Where is my hometown? No really, where is it?

Is it the small town I was born in, but moved away from when I was four? Is it the town I lived in from age four until I went to boarding school at fifteen, but haven’t been back to for the better part of 15 years? Is it, as the one administrator insisted, where my parents now reside, somewhere I have never really lived in? Maybe the last address I had prior to medical school, a place I lived for two (admittedly wonderful) years?

Or perhaps it is the city I moved to five and a half years ago with the mindset of putting down roots. The city I watched drown, the city I sobbed hysterically over having to return to. Maybe my hometown is the city I met and married my husband in, or the place I have spent more consecutive years living than I have any other town since I was fifteen years old. The city my great-great grandparents are buried in. The place I am terrified I will have to leave in a few months, and the place I want to grow old in.

New Orleans is one of those towns where if you weren’t born here, your parents weren’t born here, and your family hasn’t been here for generations, then saying you’re “from” here results in polite chuckle from “true” locals. To claim it as my hometown seems presumptuous, especially when I’ve only lived here for school. And yet, to give any other answer feels wrong. This city has engraved itself on my heart. I want to claim it, declare it to the world.

In the end, I took the wording literally. On the university-wide form, I responded with the place of my birth, the answer that every Southern-born individual considers to be where you’re “from”. The email from the medical school, however, specified that we should respond with “the place you call home.”. So that one ended up being easy.

New Orleans is my home.

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