The end of an era

I graduated! For the last time ever! After 4 years of medical school in Baltimore, 3 years of residency in San Francisco, and 3 years of fellowship in Richmond, I am finally done with my medical training and officially an attending physician. I feel like I have reached the end of the long exalted tunnel, a moment I have dreamed about since I decided to pursue medicine. I'm not going to lie — it feels good.

Even after graduating medical school in 2015 or residency in 2018, it felt a little anti-climactic because I still had more training in front of me, and I was still years away from becoming a "real" doctor. Though I don't think the general public knows the difference between an intern, resident, fellow or attending doctor, an attending physician is the "real" doctor, the one who makes the ultimate decision in a patient's care, who can practice independently, and the one who makes the big bucks. I have about 6 weeks until I start my new attending position however it finally feels like I am done preparing to practice. While I'm sure I will be anxious when starting my new position without anybody supervising me, I do feel like my training prepared me well. I'm not going to waste energy stressing out (in fact, I've been preparing for this for the past 6 years!) and I want to just spend the summer relaxing and soaking up my new life in LA!

The past few weeks have been filled with fun festivities, from a casual graduation in my boss' backyard to family weekend trips and goodbye parties — and I've loved every minute of it. After a year of hibernation and delaying any sort of social gatherings and celebrations, I'm so thankful I was able to celebrate with all my friends and loved ones this final milestone. 

Our first celebration was a quick weekend trip with family at a river house. Our family usually takes a trip in the summer but obviously a big trip had to be curtailed due to Covid, so we picked a place closer to home. My sister always picks the best Airbnb's and picked an amazing river house right on the Chesapeake Bay. It was decorated out of a Homegoods catalogue, looked out over the river, and had a dock where we could take kayaks out onto the river. We spent a few days cooking, kayaking, dipping in the water, and chilling on the river house, a nice reminder of what the east coast can offer. 

It rained the first night so we caught an epic sunset when the rainclouds cleared for a few minutes!

The following weekend, we had my fellowship graduation in my boss' backyard. 
The bigger department graduation was cancelled due to covid but I'm grateful we were still able to get together in person with the smaller fellowship group. We ate a homecooked meal, drank, and chatted with all of my friends and mentors from the past three years in Richmond. 
Ladies in matching rompers
We're moving onto the Bay area, Winston-Salem, Southern California, and NYC
Monday afternoon clinic crew
Me and the boss!
C and I did one last dinner in Richmond at a spot that has been on my bucket list, The Roosevelt in Churchill. The food was just ok (soft shell crab, steak, and friend oysters) but we got to walk around Churchill, get froyo at my favorite soft serve place (Anthony's On the Hill) and go to one of my favorite parks in Richmond, Libby Hill Park for the sunset. 

The next day, we went to Charlottesville (wine country in Virginia) for one last goodbye event with the  guys from my fellowship and their respective significant others. Two out of the four of us got engaged during our fellowship over the past few months so we had a lot to celebrate! We went to King Family winery where we stumbled upon a polo match and then went to another bucket list destination, Pippin Hill Farms for their wine tasting. I loved Pippin Hill. It was a farm to table restaurant/winery located on this sprawling estate right in the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. If we were staying in the east coast, that would definitely be a contender for a wedding venue for me.
Playing outside the chicken coop at Pippin Hill
It was a great sendoff and goodbye with some of my closest friends in Richmond. At least I will have more friends to visit in New York, the Bay Area, and Winston-Salem! After the Charlottesville trip, I just had a few more things to wrap up in Richmond before handing in my keys and my badge and officially checking out of work. Then our moving truck came the very next day!
Honestly, I do not have any misgivings about leaving Richmond. I was in Richmond for my fellowship and that's it. I never wanted to live in Richmond (in fact, I was quite bitter about moving to Richmond) and I had no reason to be there except for work. I'm eternally grateful I met my fiance there (I like to joke we were the only two Asians in Richmond) and we are leaving for California together, but I doubt I will ever return to Richmond, Virginia. 

Because life always either moves at a snail's pace or at warp speed, we returned to my parents house for my graduation/goodbye/engagement party just a few days later. My mom's best friend Lisa threw the party for me in her backyard. Most of my extended family is in China, and even counting all of my extended family my family is very small, so Lisa and her family and this group of their friends really feel like my extended family. All these aunties and uncles saw me grow up, go through medical school, residency, and then fellowship, and threw me an amazing sendoff. 

My mom had one of her photographer friends come and take some portraits of our family. They turned out great! 
Another one of my mom's friends made this balloon arch!

Friends since 5th grade
Huge thanks to Lisa and her husband for hosting the party! 

Some of my HS friends came too, A and J!
I still remember going to R's wedding almost 10 years ago! Can't wait for her to come to mine.
So much love to this group. I'm hoping they will all be able to come to our wedding in SoCal next year! 

With that, we said goodbye to the east coast and hopped on a plane to LA the very next morning. We've been chilling here in LA with his family while we wait for our rental in Ventura to be ready in a few days. My mom and sister came to LA last week and I was showing them around, spending a lot of time with family, eating ALL the food, exploring the city, and checking out wedding venues in Southern California. After a semi-stressful week (wedding venues are booking up left and right in 2022 because the pandemic pushed so many weddings back), I was actually able to secure a dream venue! These past few weeks have been such a wonderful break, but I am looking forward to getting back to semi-normalcy and settling into our new place in Ventura. I still have to pinch myself that I actually live here now! 


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