She awoke with a start, blinking rapidly to clear the bleariness from her eyes so that she could make sense of where she was. An older woman with a kind smile was mouthing something at her and gesturing at her headphones She offered the woman a sleepy nod and adjusted the Grados so that they were resting around her neck. Over a month of nonstop travel and living out of hotels meant that Nora would occasionally wake up disoriented and without any clue as to what day it was or what city she was in. If she was lucky, she was in her apartment in downtown Hanover, but sometimes that had proved to be even more disorienting. It had taken a few moments for her to piece together that she was on a plane and headed back towards home after a layover at LaGuardia. Still a little foggy, she shut off her iPod and started to stow away her headphones.

Unlike most people her age, she had the luxury of being short enough to be able to fold herself into a somewhat comfortable position and had spent the flight with her legs tucked underneath her. She straightened herself out from the contorted position she had fallen asleep in and tried to stretch out some of tension that had gathered over the course of the flight. A few joints cracked as she did so, and she frowned when she realized that her right foot had fallen asleep. She had been lucky to get out of Atlanta when she did; with most of the city recovering from an uncharacteristic snowstorm, delays and cancellations made travel a mess.

Nora slid the window shade upwards so that she could watch their final descent. The sun was setting behind the mountains and snow and city lights were visible below. she let out a deep breath and leaned back in her seat. A bumpy but uneventful landing and what felt like forever spent taxiing around LEB had her looking out the window again. She would be back there again in no time, with more residency interviews to take up her time and determine where her future lay. Her row mate made idle chatter, some generic, offhand comment about just wanting to get off the plane after spending hours in the air. She nodded and laughed along cordially. Small talk had never been her strength, but hours and hours of travel recently had taught her that people were willing to talk about anything and everything when they were trapped in a glorified tin can with a bunch of strangers.

Baggage claim had the usual hustle and bustle of people collecting both their belongings and then being collected, in turn, by families and friends. Nora was no exception. Her boyfriend stood near the automatic doors that ushered a crowd through to their final destination, ready to welcome her home with a warm smile and a big hug. It didn't take long for the questions to start. How was Emory? Had her interview gone well? What had she thought about UNC? They traded stories as they stood around the carousel and waited for her luggage; he was going through his own round of interviews as well. Their schedules refused to line up, one being sent away to schmooze with program directors while the other had a short stretch at home, though equally hectic with never ending shifts at the hospital. She had a week and change at home and dreaded asking where he was off to next and when, knowing that the answer was too far away and too soon. And so she didn't, choosing to ignore everything else but that moment and just let herself be.