Really? You clicked on a link that said “I don’t know what the hell I am talking about?” Interesting. I’m not sure what that says about you.
But enough about you; I’m baaaaaack! You may not have noticed my absence (it’s okay, I can take it), but I can’t tell you how many times during the past couple of months I have thought about, and missed, writing. It’s a good feeling, to have affirmed my passion! (I also missed cooking and, of all things, jogging, which is both shocking and good, but probably too tangential to discuss here and now.)
Of course, now that I actually have a little window of opportunity, I can’t seem to grasp what it is I want to say. My awkwardness, I believe, has to do with re-entering regular life a bit after an intense period of medical scariness (not my own, but a family member’s experience).
In a nutshell: Being in a hospital day after day, even if you are just there to visit, will make you weird. I have a new-found and enormous amount of respect for anyone who spends a lot of time in the hospital. Being someone’s advocate is like being plunked down, Survivor-style, in the middle of a foreign land where you don’t know the language. There’s NG tubes and Heparin and Zofran and PICC lines and a hundred other things that you really didn’t ever want to know about, but you must learn about, and immediately. All the other little issues of daily living, like getting a hair cut and raking leaves and having the carpet cleaned, take a back seat.
I remember checking my email while sitting in the ICU a few week back. My gaze landed on a subject line, which read: Seven Great Desk Lamps! I remember thinking, “Uh…are you kidding me?” It seemed so incredibly ridiculous that I was in the ICU, where everything is, literally, a matter of life and death, and I was reading about desk lamps. And, really, how great could they be — and why seven?
A couple weeks later, I was walking through the hallway of the same hospital as a gurney, pushed by two orderlies, rolled by me. On it lay a woman about my age, with a bandage around her head. She was holding the ubiquitous vomit bucket that you see in every room in every hospital. As she passed by I offered up one of those inadequate, awkward half-smiles, but she looked right at me and said, “I like your scarf.”
She liked my scarf. The woman with the bandage and the bucket, being wheeled to a hospital room, liked my scarf. I hope I said thank-you.
What is the connection here? And what the hell am I talking about?
I don’t know! I feel like I made that clear with my title!
I do know that — and here’s that wow moment you’ve been waiting for — it has something to do with the Meaning of Life. Something about how all those little things — the funny Facebook posts about kids and dogs, and dinky little two-miles jogs, the impulse-buying of a pretty scarf — they all seem so far away sometimes. Until you (you=me in this scenario) realize how much you miss all the seemingly insignificant bits that make up your day-to-day existence, and you suddenly realize how totally f-ing great your little life is, with its homemade soup, wine with friends, well-written episodes of Mad Men, laughs with a five-year-old, and good books waiting on the night stand.
And if you finally figure out how to listen to Pandora on your iPhone in your car, as I did? Well, that is just the cream cheese icing on the Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcake of life.
As for the desk lamps, if someone wants to get really amped about that, who am I to rain on their parade? I mean, if the subject line had been “Seven Great Lip Balms,” or “Seven Great Stinky Cheeses,” I probably would have read the whole email. Because, for me, it IS about the little things.
And as for the patient, she’s doing well. It’ll be a long road.
Thanks for sticking with me while I get back in the groove with my writing. Next time I’ll figure out what the hell I am talking about before I start writing. Until then…