Sunday, March 13, 2011


Ever since my less-than-36-hour trip home for Christmas with the family, mainly consisting of ensuring Mom's periorbital cellulitis was healing, I've been homesick for Amarillo. I'm now writing this post on my way back to Dallas from a full weekend in "A-town".

Amarillo is my hometown, born and raised. It's a small city of about 200,000 people stuck out in the middle of nowhere i.e. the Panhandle of Texas. Amarillo epitomizes the Texas spirit: friendly people, hard working, and, yes, even the sunsets are bigger in Texas. I hated Amarillo until I left it. To a teenager, there was nothing to do but catch a movie and eat at the latest chain restaurant to pop up along I-40. Friday nights in the fall revolved around high school football and I spent every windy spring weekend running in a high school track meet. Then, I left for college. Not six months later, I realized how great Amarillo was, and I have been singing it's praises ever since.

Sunset Leaving Amarillo c/o TAG Digital Photography and HDR

I grew up thinking Amarillo was exactly like Lubbock (minus a Division I university of course). Only 120 miles apart, both cities lie high on the plains, and I mean pancake flat plains, of West Texas. I soon realized Lubbock was just a big college town, born from a large community of cotton farmers. Meanwhile, Amarillo was a family town born from a ranching heritage and railroads. That difference pervaded the overall contrast between these two seemingly sister-like cities. I spent my two very short years of college and my first two years of medical school making trips up I-27 (which is an interstate highway that exists only between Amarillo and Lubbock) almost once a month just to satisfy my craving for "home", that place I was longing to get back to and stay forever.

I was one of the "lucky" few to spend my last two years of medical school in Amarillo. During that time, my love for Amarillo grew exponentially. I realized what a friendly place it really was, not just the people, but the community as a whole. Amarillo had put a lot into building an excellent medical community to serve it's large area of coverage, and the physicians I was surrounded by spoke to the unbelievable environment in which one could practice medicine. Before arriving back in Amarillo, I was more than convinced that someday I would be a dermatologist (a story to be told later), and that I had my own part of a very well-established dermatology practice to buy into. Amarillo was also growing a mile a minute, new residential developments were springing up everywhere (some of which I was hoping I  could do a buy now, build later kind of thing) even though the retail development lagged severely. I bought (and paid off) the cutest home I will have ever owned when I lived in Amarillo for those two years. It was my best job so far in the "creating a home" arena. I really wish I could have lived in that place for the rest of my life. In fact, I would have loved to go on living my life exactly as it was during those two glorious years. But as it always does, life got in the way.

My Wolflin Charmer

That wonderful medical environment and those all-so-influential doctors showed me that I'd rather be a surgeon than a dermatologist, and that I wasn't going to stay in West Texas to become one. After interviewing in Dallas, Austin, Tulsa, Jacksonville, Spartanburg, Charlotte, Knoxville, Columbus, and Lexington, I found myself headed for the Big D (and I DO mean Dallas) come Match Day. Two weeks later I was off to Europe for twelve lovely days and immediately moved to Dallas on my return. I returned to Amarillo a couple of times before residency started for graduation and visits to the parents. Then those visits became much shorter and much longer in between. I made it home for an overnighter for Mom's birthday in August, a weekend in September, and then a few days at Christmas. Come spring, I made it home for a couple more 24 to 36 hour trips. I finally spent an entire weekend in Amarillo again in August of my 2nd year. I had the aforementioned less than 36 hours for Christmas, and now I'm returning from my second full weekend there as a second year. (Many of you are thinking I must get away a lot for a resident. I do. I make the most of every opportunity or excuse to go home, to visit friends, or really just to get out of Dallas. That doesn't mean it's easy!)

Something has happened to me over the last few months that has changed my love for Amarillo. I still love this Yellow Rose of Texas, but part of me wants something else. I used to think I could sell Amarillo to anyone, now I'm not sure if Amarillo could back up my selling points. I think this mostly stems from being single. Amarillo isn't a exactly haven for eligible singles. It's a great place for families, weekend soccer games, chain restaurants, and wholesome fun. But it's not a place you go to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right or even Mr. or Mrs. Right-Now. So in that regard, I think Amarillo leaves me with a bit more bitter taste than it once did. Or maybe I just need something new, something different. I tend to fall for just about anything historic and charming, and currently New England's got me in a tizzy, and I spend too much of free time perusing it's real estate websites. Most of my attendings and fellow residents know that I would love to go back to Amarillo someday to live a life as a surgeon. These days, there's a pause in that statement for me. Or more typically: "I want to go back to Amarillo eventually...but not without a family." I've long been a career focused woman and never been too concerned about when I settle down in my personal life. I once had an astrologer tell me I wouldn't meet "the one" until I was 31, so time is something I have plenty of when it comes to making my way back home. (Although Mom is starting to convince herself I won't ever come home, and maybe parts of me are thinking so too.) In the meantime, I'm looking for a good sell on the next place to "overnight" or maybe even stay a long while on this journey home--after this jaunt in Dallas finally comes to end that is.

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