That poem lost some of its luster after I majored in English and learned that it’s a sarcastic (as sarcastic as Frost could be) commentary on the wistful (and pointless) way people think of what could have been. But if I had taken a different road and not followed my interest in English, I can’t help but think that I would probably still be taken by the poem, and I also might have a B.S. hanging on my wall, rather than a B.A.

I won a blue ribbon in the third grade science fair when my parents helped me test six different kinds of laundry detergent on bright white socks with countless stains. The tri-fold lived in our attic for years because you just don’t toss award-winning science. I really liked science in third grade–especially when we got to have snails as pets to study throughout the year. (Mine was named Sally, and my best friend named hers Spike Lee.) In sixth grade (my memory is divided by school years. I can’t do that anymore.), I was fascinated by planets and auroras and finally, meteorology to the extent that I watched The Weather Channel for fun. The summer after sixth grade, I planted my own container garden on our screened-in porch and I experimented with grafting saplings back together after a storm. Last time I checked, they were growing tall in my old backyard. Around that time, I decided that when I grew up, I would be an animal trainer.

In seventh grade, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I don’t remember if I had a reason, but my teachers and family told me I was good, so I kept doing it. By the time I got to biology and then chemistry in high school, I was sobbing over balancing equations (I’ve never been completely mentally balanced. I say that as a simple truth.) and I even resorted to cheating on my tests. I got a B in chemistry, but by then, I was one of those kids who said, “I’m never going to use this! Why can’t I just focus on what I’m good at?” And then in college, I did. I took the requisite 2 biology course minimum, and I hated it, but a part of me actually did like dissecting fetal pigs and doing Punnett squares. Nevertheless, I immersed myself in the English (and Spanish) departments as fast as I could.

As I become more and more sure that I want to always work in abortion, I find myself daydreaming about being an abortion provider. In other words, studying a lot of science and having an M.D. and you know, science in general. I’m not likely to actually do it. I’ve done my best to forget any scientific background in the past 8 years since I’ve graduated high school. But when I’m assisting the doctor and she’s telling me about paracervical blocks, and when I spend hours reading about medical marvels online, I can’t help but wonder what could have been.

I don’t really think I fell victim to the “humanities are for girls, math and science are for boys” bullshit. My parents and teachers were always sure to let me know that I could understand the workings of a heart and perform algebraic equations if I really wanted to. But I do wonder where the idea that lack of aptitude overtakes extreme interest came from. And for now, I will settle for explaining IUD insertions and advising my friends about birth control in an ameteur capacity.

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