Last week Rebecca and I traveled to Houston, Texas so that Rebecca could take round 2 (of 3) of her board exams. While Divinity School studies (tests, papers, reading, pastoral care role plays) were not easy, I do not envy Rebecca. Since the day we arrived in Austin, Rebecca has been studying, studying, studying. Go to work in the morning, study all evening. That left us both irritable and stir-crazy at times. But it also brought forth flickers of joy.
For one, I discovered the laughable limits of my own intelligence pretty quickly when I picked up Rebecca’s manual and attempted to quiz her. “Kera-top-athy, Michael,” Rebecca would say, “It’s okay, just sound it out. Then I’ll tell you what the appropriate treatments are.” We would laugh. I can blurt out “hermeneutical” and “soteriological” at will, but one glance at “Acanthamoeba Keratitis” and my mouth was tripping over itself. We all have our special little worlds of technical language and expertise, and I felt like quite the foreigner in Rebecca’s land of eye disease and pharmaceutical drug options. Even when I managed to come up with some creative questions, puzzling out vague terms, the victory was short lived. As I beamed with the accomplishment of forming a coherent optometry question, Rebecca let loose a landslide of answers that sent me scurrying through the manual: “Ummm… that sounds about right… actually, I have no idea. Why don’t you just look at the book…” My efforts to be “optometric-enough” created a much-needed lightness for the both of us.
In addition, the drudgery of work and study also generated spontaneous moments of insomnia and late-night Taco-Bell excursions (great memories filled with laughter and wrong-turns).
While the flickers of joy brought brief relief to the intensity of Rebecca’s studying, we were both ready for the whole exam-saturated experience of Texas to subside. We were ready to enjoy Austin without the lingering demands of study. So we drove to Houston with anticipation.
We didn’t want to change things up too much–no luxury hotel experiences to disrupt Rebecca’s concentration. So we stayed at another Extended Stay Hotel (that, and it was about all we could afford in relatively close proximity to downtown Houston).
Rebecca spent most of Tuesday taking her exam. With the day to myself, and feeling a little land-locked, I decided to make the hour-or-so drive out to Galveston, a city stretching into the Gulf of Mexico. I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but I needed to look out at the Gulf and feel the expansiveness of the water reaching into the horizon. Since we’ve moved from Chicago, I’ve missed the evocative power of the water.
Of course, a cold front had swung through so it was quite chilly and very, very windy. The beaches were empty–and rightfully so. But I found what I was looking for, however brief the experience turned out to be.
In addition, I discovered some rich history and beautiful architecture in Galveston. Including the following pictures of Sacred Hearth Catholic church (not sure on the dates) and the Bishop’s Palace (right next door, circa 1893).
I rushed back to Houston with just enough time to pick Rebecca up from her exam (the time crunch left the NASA Space Center out of reach). We celebrated her accomplishment with a wonderful dinner and the friendly company of several ICO colleagues. The ride back was long, but the prospect of experiencing Austin without the need to study enlivened our spirits. Still, however ready we were to live without the shackles of exam preparation, we were more ready to sleep… and sleep we did–most of the next day.
Rebecca will receive her scores in mid-January. She has high hopes of having passed, but also realized the difficult truth of student life: there is always much to learn.