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Ana, of course, was in heaven. She hadn't changed since freshman year of high school, which in Audrey's mind and in Ana's particular case was quite the compliment. Ana had always been quiet, withdrawn, and reserved, but also secretly driven. After her mother's divorce and her family's subsequent move back to the West Coast from which they hailed, Audrey had lost one of her best friends. Ana was naturally bright and curious, someone you could count on to help you with your homework. And while she generally avoided confrontation of any stripe with almost allergic persistence, if she was backed into a corner, Ana could always be trusted to go to bat for you when it really, really mattered.
Like, for example, when you're desperately messaging people on Facebook from the tarmac of San Francisco International. Some of whom you haven't spoken to in years. Ahem.
It was awkward for all of a day, but soon Audrey and Ana both remembered why they were friends. It was tough not to appreciate Ana's natural curiousity and generosity, even if she scoffed at Audrey's new interest in the occult. Here, at the University of California, San Francisco's Third Annual Symposium on Emerging Cancer Treatments and Oncological Theory, Ana was truly in her element. She was still trying to decide between oncology and obstetrics as her specialty, but she talked about some of the doctors speaking here the way Audrey sometimes caught herself talking about photographers she really admired.
Ana was brimming with energy, dressed professionally a smart pantsuit but wearing a "Hello, My Name Is..." sticker on her breast adorned with Sharpie-drawn smiley faces. After wandering for a bit around the hotel and getting a lay of the land, Ana turned to Audrey and presented her with a pamphlet. "Okay, so, who do you want to see first?"
There were three speakers lecturing simultaneously for the first section. The first, Dr. Sylvia Bachchan, was delivering a lecture on "Evolving Methodology in Immunotherapy." The second was interesting to Audrey, because it appeared to be the only lecturer of the day with any occult significance: "Understanding Panacea: Ideals and Spirituality in Medicine," by Dr. David Teofil. The final lecturer Ana dismissed out of hand as, "nobody, a graduate student."
Audrey could tell that Ana was being polite in letting her choose (she was palpably chomping at the bit to see Dr. Bachchan), but she also knew that Ana had been worried that Audrey was depressed. Of course, Audrey wasn't depressed... but she had recently moved across the continent in order to escape an experience she couldn't discuss or even acknowledge with Ana, so it was understandable how the young medical student drew that conclusion. Audrey could tell that Ana was overjoyed to simply see Audrey momentarily out of their shared apartment, and would gladly go with her to either lecture.