Closing Time

Akshat Sharma
by Akshat Sharma

The apartment that I occupied for the two years that spanned this MS journey of mine is completely bereft of, well, everything. It’s 3 a.m. Sleep won’t come. I sit on an air mattress, and my eyes have been burning with the hot, acrid tears that I have been crying for the past 27 minutes. Fitting, seeing as how this is the last blog post I will ever write for the Vet & Micro blog. Yeah, I wept. I don’t care who knows it.

The dénouement of my graduate career so far was, obviously, the day of my MS defense. I remember how I stood, golden and bow-tie’d, afore my peers, my committee and dear friends from a variety of departments who’d done me the honor of attending. I talked. They smiled at the right places…it was exactly as I wanted it to be. Then came the defense itself: a 98-ish-minute-long conversation about science with 5 of my favourite scientists. It was, in retrospect, very, very fun!

The falling action of this bildungsroman was the day I began to pack up my office. I found my acceptance letter to the programme at NDSU, the copy of Immunobiology that I stole from Dr Berry, an old final exam I had saved because of the charmingly vituperative rant written by the student on the back page, lilacs that a boy leftat my desk one spring, The “Ak-Shot” Glass that one of our summer research interns made for me, the Dadaist Western Blot protocol I wrote out that my lab-mates, Scott and Aaron, delighted in, a letter announcing a scholarship I received, a prurient note that one of our alumni left me one winter when she was prowling around Van Es...These things, they formed a bittersweet roadmap that charted out all the places I’d been, people I’d seen, assays I’d run over the years. They also told me that I’d reached my destination—an important checkpoint in the pursuit of being the best Me I could be.

Two years, huh? Two years ago I decided against going to Tulane, and joining Dr. Schuh because I trust her more than I trust a daily occidental sunset. Two years ago I promised myself that if I burnt out during my MS, I’d stop and not pursue a PhD. Two years ago, I was as bewildered in the lab as a fawn who’d just caught a showing of Bambi. It sure doesn’t feel like two years have elapsed, and yet I know so much more now. I feel charged enough to burst forth into a new milieu, and…Do Things! Does that make sense? And so, I move to UW-Madison. In mere hours, me, two suit-cases, five boxes, three shoe-boxes and three totes will be en route to Madison where, next week, I’ll embark on a PhD in immunology.

This reality of being all packed up and ready to leave to Do Things wouldn’t exist were it not for Vet-Micro—my home since my days as a freshman/ by-credit-sophomore. Who knows what life would be like had I a) gone to Philly for my undergrad instead? b) not taken immunology c) gone to Tulane? To use Voltaire’s words (but Leibniz’s spirit): This is The Best of All Possible Worlds--le meilleur des mondes possibles. Thusly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you, NDSU and Vet-Micro for making a scientist out of me. I’m thundering forth, all set to Do Things, just how a Bison would.

So, yes, it is time to move on. It’s something unpredictable, but, in the end, it’s right…and yes, I did have the time of my life.

Miss me! J