Saturday, October 8, 2011


The summer was growing short and my chance of going to medical school was diminishing. A distraction arrived when my mother and aunt came to stay for the 4th of July holiday. The three of us had just arrived home from shopping when the phone rang.

“Hello,” I said juggling a bag of groceries.

“May I speak to Debra Kraft?”

“Speaking.” I shuffled the bag onto the kitchen counter.

“This is Dagmar Coperhaver from the University of Nevada, School of Medicine. We have had an opening for the upcoming class and wanted to know if you were still interested.”

“Oh, my God! Yes! Yes, I am still interested. I had almost given up. Oh, my God. What do I have to do?”

Dagmar laughed. “Well, orientation starts August thirtieth and we recommend you come a week early to get your housing, financial aid, and other details taken care of. You won’t have time once classes start. So, can we expect you? Or do you need to give it some thought?”

I thought for thirty seconds. “Yes, I’ll be there.”

“Great! I will send you out financial aid materials and an orientation packet. Call me if you need anything. Oh, and, by the way, congratulations.”

“Thank you, thank you, oh my God, thank you,” I screamed into the phone.

My hand was shaking so hard I could barely get the phone back in the cradle. I turned around. My mother, aunt, and the girls were all staring at me. I am sure they thought I had taken leave of my senses. I grabbed the girls and danced them all over the kitchen. I had no idea how I was going to get in Reno in six weeks and at that moment I did not care.

I was still flying high when Tom came home from work. I grabbed him by the shoulders as he came through the door. “I got accepted at the University of Nevada. I have to be there the end of August. Isn’t it great!”

He looked at me with an empty, flat expression. “Well, I just can’t do this right now. Can’t you call and tell them you will have to wait until next year or do it by correspondence or something? I can’t leave.”

I dropped my arms to my sides. “If I don’t go now I’ll lose my position and I have to start all over again.”

Without another word he took the newspaper and walked downstairs. We didn’t speak again for many weeks.

I spent that time trying to figure out how I was going to get to Reno with a reluctant husband, two kids, a dog, a rabbit, and a guinea pig. I considered many options. I could leave them all behind and move into graduate student housing for a year in hopes Tom would come to his senses. I could rent an apartment for the kids and the animals and leave Tom in Pocatello. We could sell our house and buy a new one in Reno and try to act like we had a normal life. After communications resumed, we decided on the latter.

We flew to Reno and saw twenty-four houses in two days. We looked at places which should have been demolished. We looked at houses which violated every building code known to my engineer husband. All we wanted was a house in our price range which had decent paint and kitchen tiles which weren’t smashed out by sledge hammers.

There were some nice neighborhoods, but we couldn’t afford them. There was one house on the edge of the neighboring town of Sparks which was a possibility, but it cost too much and the wall paper and carpets were hideous. We left town without making an offer.

I began to panic. I needed to be in Reno in two weeks and I still had nowhere to live. I started thinking about campus housing again, but the medical school started a few weeks before the rest of the university. I would have to find somewhere to stay until I could move into the dorms. It was then that I had an idea.

We had purchased a small tent trailer when we moved to Pocatello. I would park it in an RV park until I could move to campus. It was warm enough in Reno and the trailer had a propane heater if it did get chilly. I could cook simple meals on the stove. I had light and a table to study on and most importantly a bed. Besides, it would just be for a couple of weeks.

Two weeks later, I loaded the car with all the things I would need to become a full time student once again. I hooked up the trailer, and drove Sarah, Robin, our pets and plants to my mother’s house. That night my mother told me she thought I was crazy, but at long last she acknowledged my dream. She said she would do whatever it took to support me. I stayed the night and left for Reno the following day.

It was a long drive across the brown sagebrush desert. I played music full blast to keep myself awake. I worried the car or trailer might breakdown. I was afraid my marriage was over and I had totally blasted my family apart.

I arrived in Reno late in the day and checked into the Shamrock RV Park. I hooked up the power and the water. I used the payphone to call Tom and my mother. I showered in the RV park common bathroom and cried myself to sleep. Little did I know this would be my home for another six weeks.