In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams’s character passes up the opportunity to attend a legendary Red Sox playoff game on account of a chance encounter with his future wife.
“I just slid my ticket across the table and I said, ‘Sorry guys, I gotta go see about a girl.'”
Our course in life is set by both choice and chance. Most often the greatest change in that course is when we make the choice to take a chance. Four years ago I slid my ticket across the table, started freelance writing and said, “Sorry guys, I gotta go see about a dog.”
That dog was Eko and that decision to take a chance on myself was life-altering. How did I pass up the security of a full-time job and a stable future in favor of a pen, a dog and a dream? In a word, Emily.
During Emily’s final year of medical school I discovered the adventure of a lifetime – an opportunity to travel the country with Eko and write about it. At the time we had no idea how long I’d be gone and no clue where Emily would match for her residency.
Emily is one of those rare few people whose passion and career align. She is dedicated to providing outstanding women’s healthcare and she has worked tirelessly for years to realize that goal. I think she recognized that same passion in my eyes because her support for this crazy trip and this crazy man never wavered.
So with Emily’s love at our back, Eko and I set sail. It was an adventure to find the best pet-friendly destinations and it was also an adventure to find myself. But like Robin Williams’s character, I missed out on a lot by giving up the ticket I had.
While on the road I missed birthdays, holidays and friends. I wasn’t there when Emily wrestled with difficult residency applications and I wasn’t there cheering when she graduated as the valedictorian of her medical school.
What hurt the most is that I wasn’t there the day Emily learned where she’d matched for residency. Before she opened that envelope I should have been there to promise it didn’t matter what the letter said because I’d follow her across the world.
But I wasn’t. Instead I was on the other side of the country in a cheap motel with Eko. “You promise you’ll come to Chicago?” Emily asked me on the phone, fighting back tears. “I’m on my way right now,” I promised.
The truth is that I was always on my way to Emily. I just needed to take a few detours to find myself along the way. I missed so much while I was gone, but what I discovered was even more important. Because of Emily, because of Eko, because of that trip, I am a better person. Because of Emily’s belief in me, I’m not talking right now about some crazy dream I had four years ago and how I always regretted not taking that chance on myself.
The past four years of my life have been the best four years of my life. It’s no surprise it all started with Emily. Marking Our Territory is a story about dogs. A story about dogs is a story about love. And this love story has finally come full circle. Tomorrow I get to marry my best friend.
I have a short video pre-loaded for tomorrow, but from the time of this posting I’ll be out of contact for a bit. If anyone asks for me, tell them I had to go see about a girl.