I really wish that was my day. I wish it could be everyone’s day. Because that sounds awesome.
Instead, for my poor mom, this was my day.
This is how I entertain myself in medical waiting rooms. Nothing passes anxious hours alone like dense, political feminist psychology.
(And we don’t need to talk about the period and stress-induced breakouts that are happening on every corner of my face. I’m aware. It’s practically a pumpkin patch up there. While someone’s body is heading to forty and someone’s joints are well aware of that, someone’s skin is deciding to stick with thirteen and is behaving accordingly. Except for the forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet. Age equality march on my face. Every day. Hormones are righteous, selfish jerks.)
Today was eyeball surgery number seven for my put-upon girl. I feel so much for her. Thank Juno, it’s not a critical situation. It’s not a day with an oncologist or an overnight stay in a nocturnal dialysis unit. But it’s hours with needles in her arm and her eyes and that’s still pretty bloody far from pleasant for any conscious being.
My job on these procedural days is to entertain. And to drive. Must mostly to entertain. To talk. To distract. On the drive into the appointment. In the waiting room. In the pre-op room. In the recovery room. On the way to the pharmacy. On the drive home. You get the vibe. Calming conversation on carefully pre-selected subjects. She will do her best to steer the chatter to my ex or my clothes. I will nudge it back to happier subjects. Like how to best make mashed potatoes. Weighting the pros and cons of rocking chairs versus gliders in a bedroom. Debating which was the superior fight: Tyson vs. Michael Spinks or Tyson vs. Buster Douglas. (Don’t ask me. My mom and dad loved some boxing in their day.) Or my favorite, the similarities between Mia Farrow and Jackie Kennedy. (Think about it.)
My other job is to wait. And while waiting alone includes peaceful time for reading and snacking, waiting alone also inevitably leads to thinking.
Oh, thinking. You sneaky bastard.
This fragile little brain was everywhere. How I need to move. Maybe not need. But really, really, really, REALLY want to move. I thought about what might happen if my loses all of her eyesight. What if we both have to move? What if we have to move together? How about my kid? Is he okay? He seems sad sometimes. I know what that’s like. And why hasn’t he lost any more teeth? There have been significant changes at work. What if I lose my job? What if I keep writing only garbage or never get to set foot on stage again?
Fun times in that waiting room. And pacing. Lots of thinking. Little bit of pacing.
And I somehow never spiraled past that. Which is huge for me and my synapses. Brains are incredible. A week ago, I would have been curled in a ball, rocking and mumbling. Today, I saw the difference between anxious machinations and reality and I wasn’t rattled for a second. I put that bad dreams and ideas in a corner where they belong and acted like a human for the rest of the day.
I’ve acted like a royal, selfish madwoman for a while and people close to me have paid the price. And on the other end of that, so have I. Because not everyone is willing to deal with selfish madwomen in their lives. Imagine that. It’s the way the universe keeps the scales in balance. Finally get your head on straight, fully prepared to participate and thrive, walk out onto the stage that is your life…and the audience has left a house full of empty seats. That’s comedy, folks. And I’m no Buster Keaton.
But deep, deep down, past the passion and talent and into the sad heart, maybe I am.
It all ended well. She made it through the surgery with the best possible outcome. I didn’t make it far with the book, but I made it thorough the day feeling like I had actually helped someone in some small way.
And that, with a bag of books and chocolate, is not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.