A collection of love letters written to the town.
“I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
Eight years. I came here in 2008 with every intention to be out by summer of 2009, but here I am – proud to call you my own. I came solely to help kick start my medical education career, little did I know, I would stay to complete it.
As I near the end of my emergency medicine residency, I’ve started to reflect on my time with you. I cannot believe that that on July 1 I start to close out the longest chapter of my life so far. We’ve come a long way.
I came from bigger cities than you. I was born in Birmingham England, grew up in Orlando, went to undergrad in Atlanta, spent some time doing work in DC, and here I am. You’re my longest adventure yet. I intended only on a prolonged visit to get involved in the political sphere while completing my first Master’s degree, and afterwards leave for medical school. It was supposed to be a short tryst. I came to you alone. All of my family was down south. I found myself questioning what a guy like me was doing here. I soon found out.
Master’s degree in hand, I continued my relationship with you. My journey would perpetuate for four more years as I entered medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine. I met some of the most brilliant minds; some that have already revolutionized medicine and others that soon will. These folks care more about others than themselves with the spirit to make a difference. There was a simple truth leering throughout medical school though – it was tough. I faced some of my darkest days and this city forced me to become stronger. I was alone in a city of gratitude and light. The problem was my eyes were just closed to it all.
2009 was also the year I met my ‘little brother’, Jacob, through Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’ve been blessed to be part of some great movements, but this moved me most of all. It gave me an opportunity to see Toledo in its colorful prism. You allowed me a temporary escape from medicine, with my incredible little brother by my side, I discovered your streets; it is the perfect medium for mentorship. Big Brothers Big Sisters pushed me to see your culture, your passion, your festivals and spirit as I strived to create experiences for a young man ready to take on this world. It forced me to acclimate and understand a town I never knew existed. In an attempt to help another individual grow, I found my own humility of a questioned city begin to flourish.
On June 7, 2013 I had the honored moment of my life – I graduated from medical school. I walked out to beaming sunshine in my eyes at the Stranahan Theater. The light couldn’t have been brighter. I’ve seen the greatest of greats perform on the Stranahan stage, but for me it will forever hold the memory of when I made my parents the proudest. They knew what I had been through, and you gave me the opportunity to make two of the most influential people in my life smile with pure compassion and joy. Despite the struggle, I was proud to call to Toledo a new home.
Shortly after my graduation, I made plans to leave you for Denver. My bags were packed. I had already spent five years with you. I had a best friend in Denver, and after the struggles with medical school, I thought I was ready to say goodbye. My eyes were set on another city, but I knew you would forever sit in the back of my mind. On the day I was supposed to tell Denver I was coming, you again gave me an offer that I couldn’t refuse; a full scholarship for a healthcare MBA and training as a business fellow. I unpacked my bags and stayed with you, Toledo.
For the third time, I faced the juncture of staying or leaving. I interviewed around the country for emergency medicine residencies, but found my calling here with you. This time, I didn’t fight it. The opportunity to work at two distinguished Level One Trauma centers, serve your population that helped me grow into the person I am today, and be part of this flourishing downtown spirit. I couldn’t say goodbye just yet.
The recently rapid development into the city you are today has been remarkable. When I came here eight years ago downtown was barren; abandoned buildings and empty streets. Now that I live in a loft downtown, I’ve lived to feel the growth – and a very fast one at that. Your restaurants, your bars, your people, your sport, and your spirit. All of it is growing at an exponential rate, and I wish I would have experienced your potential sooner.
As I enter my final year with you, I reflect on the gifts you have given me. I work in emergency departments and trauma centers. I have no idea what’s coming my way, but you, your people, and your opportunities have prepared me for anything and everything. You gave me the biggest gift of all, you helped me, so I can help heal others.
Your wild trauma filled nights, your humbling and outrageous stories, and your loving soul – it’s your people that keep me inspired to do more. Every day at work I am surrounded by people with real lives and sobering stories. These are people who have an eye for art, hard work, and passion; and on occasion, a funny patient who took their own bodily adventures a little too far. Simply put, you make me laugh, smile, and you keep me humble, Toledo.
I treasure my numbered days with you as I start the journey back home to Florida. Every festival, seasonal color change, Mr. Freeze opening and closing, and Toledo Rocket football game opener from here until June 30, 2017 will be my last. The subtle reminders already bring a sense of longing, but there’s an overarching emotion of pride.
Eight years ago I thought I came here for a mere degree, but in turn you gave me a sense of accomplishment and purpose, lifelong memories, and the knowledge to heal the hurt. For all of this, I am forever thankful to you, Toledo.
It was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who said it best, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
Rajiv and his “Little Brother” Jacob were photographed at Rajiv’s apartment at The Standart Lofts where our shutterbug, Heather noticed he is quite the photographer himself. Rajiv is the well-respected and well-liked Chief Resident Physician of Emergency Medicine at The University of Toledo Medical Center. As noted, he’ll be leaving the “city of gratitude and light” to return to the city he was raised in, Orlando (he’ll be closer to his family!), in the summer of 2017.