One of the my favorite things to do when I’m seeing children in the office is to ask them what they want to be when they grow up. I find their answers to be fascinating and full of optimism, mostly because children think they can be anything. The other day I posed this question to a 5-year old girl and she replied: “A pizza girl.” I have no idea what a pizza girl is, but if I knew you could be such a thing when I was 5 years old, then I would have wanted the same.

Although I never became a pizza girl, I did become a pediatrician. Somehow I am lucky enough to practice medicine in the town I was raised, San Diego (insert Anchorman joke here). Often when I hang out with my friends, everyone wonders about the places they would like to live. I listen to this conversation, but I don’t join in because I already know I am home.
Torrey Pines Beach in SD- Photo by Me!
In fact I am so close to home, that I work with my father, who taught me most of what I know about medicine. I also work with my younger sister, who I’m fortunate enough to have as my office manager. The words in this blog can never quite express how blessed I am to have things work out the way they have in my life. While working with my family is amazing, there are also many times when it is also very trying.

Delivering healthcare is hard work. People’s well being and happiness depend on it, and when the weight of the outcome is so large it can challenge the interpersonal relationships of those delivering it. Just because I work with my family does not mean we are the Brady Bunch. Sometimes after a hard day at the office, we leave not knowing which way is up and wondering whether we have to come back tomorrow.
A run on the beach- Photo by Me!
Feeling imperfect about home is something I always struggle with. During these struggles, I remember my wonderful grandmother. My grandmother’s home is not sunny San Diego, but rather war-torn Aleppo in Syria. Back in 2011 there was a revolution to overthrow the government in Syria; unfortunately, the response to this revolution was met with a massive amount of violence and destruction. It has become dangerous to live in her hometown, and so for the past 3 years my grandmother has lived here in San Diego.

You would think living in the land of surf and sunshine would be paradise compared to Aleppo, which is currently listed as the most dangerous city in the world, but my grandma wasn’t happy here. She wanted to go home, and so a few months against the best wishes of my family, my grandmother packed up her bags and made the dangerous trek back to Syria.  We facetime with our “na-na” these days from Aleppo. She only has water and electricity for a few hours a day if she is lucky, and going to buy food is not always safe. Yet despite all these things, it’s been many years since I’ve seen her this happy. She shows up on the iPad with a big smile and proudly declares, “I’m never coming back to San Diego.”
The old streets of Aleppo
I don’t know if my grandmother wanted to be a pizza girl when she was 5 years old, but I do know whatever her aspirations were, she walked the streets of Syria. While the smell of Turkish coffee and falafel in those streets have been replaced by rubble and destruction, my grandmother walks those streets once more. On this day of giving thanks in America, I am reminded that although it may be imperfect, home will always be home. I am thankful to be home. Happy thanksgiving!  


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