I stood there, holding the warm organ in my hand, absolutely furious. I had spent the better part of my summer trying to find a way to ride along with the only equine veterinarian in a three county radius to no avail. The calls which were so difficult for a super shy sixteen-year-old to make were not returned. I wasn’t really above stalking him, but that didn’t seem like the most effective way to meet my goal. Then, the owner of the farm on which I worked – a man who knew exactly how badly I wanted to breath the same air as this particular veterinarian – called to tell me that Dr. Booth was coming to geld one of their colts and I had better be there. I dropped everything and raced to the farm, practically desperate to meet him in person and hoping that he would invite me to spend what little time I had left before school started tagging along in his truck, learning a little bit more about the only job I had ever wanted since I was six years old. And this man had just thrown a testicle at me. He had barely uttered a word to me since arriving on the farm, despite the fact that I had done my best to stay out of the way, stay out of the light, and not ask too many questions. Yet I still found myself holding the warm and bloody testicle I caught as it came hurling towards my head. My jaw clenched and I could feel hot anger and heavy disappointment rising within me.
Dr. Booth’s eyes met mine and he laughed. He said, “Most people would have ducked”, which I honestly couldn’t tell if he meant as a compliment or an insult. Then he started asking me questions – where did I go to school? How long had I worked at the farm? Why in the world would I want to be a veterinarian?
After that day, he called me every once in a while to accompany him on various calls throughout our rural area. I really got a taste for the type of life I was choosing – one could never plan a day or stick to a schedule as something was bound to come up and throw everything off. Dr. Booth was a man of few words, so most of the time driving between calls was spent in silence. Still he made a point of speaking about the important things – never turn a horse out to pasture if he was facing away from the gate, never stand next to the legs of a horse who was under general anesthesia, and always try to schedule your calls so you can stop at the best flea markets.
I had passed some sort of grotesque litmus test that was only appropriate (albeit marginally so) within the confines of veterinary medicine when I caught that testicle, and apparently my lack of squeamishness more than my burning desire to be a veterinarian had secured my spot in the passenger seat of Dr. Booth’s truck.
I first wrote about that story when I was a high school student applying for a college scholarship. I got the scholarship and writing bug too. I distinctly remember this essay as being the first piece of writing that felt inspired and I still remember the novelty and power of that feeling. After having had that experience, I would go long stretches of time without writing because I was focused on school and work and achieving my dream of being a veterinarian, but I never forgot that feeling of inspiration. Now I strive for it every day.