Going Back to the Start of Today

Sunday, November 1, 2020

This submission won second place in the Synapse Storytelling Contest's personal essay category.

I step off the plane into the cold San Francisco weather. Its June 25 again. I had boarded the plane 24 hours ago on the same date. The power of differing time zones. If I keep traveling this way, will I have the chance to repeat a day? How many time zones and at what speed should I travel, so I can revisit today?

Living in two different time zones has given me a double life. The first, a graduate student at a world-renowned American university busy working in the lab hoping to make a big breakthrough; and the other, a pharmacist who living in a little red dot on the equator trying her best to bring good healthcare to her patients.

The researcher spends days holed up in an ivory tower called Health Sciences West. The silence is welcome and it helps her to process abstract thoughts into written sentences.

The pharmacist instead spends her days talking to almost everyone she sees. Communication is of vital importance both to the medical team and to patient education.

The researcher often second guesses the next step forward, wondering whether the correlation between bile acid metabolizers in the gut microbiome and drug metabolizing enzymes really matter.

The pharmacist knows the next step forward and reassures the patient newly started on metformin that while the medication has some side effects, it will help them to lead a longer, healthier life.

The researcher dedicates her life for the next 5 years to solve one big scientific question. Every scientific study carefully crafted, often with many revisions, refined and redesigned time and again.

Within 5 minutes of starting work, the pharmacist has 5 different issues to solve at once. Simple and practical solutions are the best.

Once solved, she hopes to not have the issue revisit.

Two drastically different roles, yet they lead to the same simple objective – to make life better for others. Yet, it is seemingly so hard to reconcile the two lives.

Both are me, but in different time zones.

One life could not have existed without the other, yet I was made to choose with my first flight, which life I wanted. Perhaps, one day the two lives will merge.

Who knows? But in the meantime, I’ve had to choose only one reality for myself. Many differing factors have caused me to decide to be where I am.

Sometimes, I wonder, if I had stayed, would I still be where I am today? It’s something I prefer not to think about. For now, it’s back to the start of today.