On Monday I took a bus from 14th Street all the way to the Upper East side. I enjoy riding the bus. Many people find that crazy, but I do. I love getting lost in thought while moving through the streets of Manhattan. There’s just so much to look at, so many things that don’t go together, yet somehow it works. It’s like I’m entering a diorama of my very own head—thoughts are free to come and go as quickly as office buildings, delis, taxis, and tenements. For an obsessive person, this feels quite good.
Right around 23rd street my thoughts came to a standstill. One of them tripped me up, stopped the flow of traffic. It was too fascinating to move around, too seemingly important to let go of. A thought that makes you go, “Huh.”
I think some thoughts really are better kept at 140 characters or less, so here is what I tweeted at the time.
Remember this post? I wrote the following:
If this story were taking place in a novel—if she were a fictional character—she might go to the delivery ward and sit in the waiting room watching pregnant women come and go; ankles swollen plump with water; cheeks puffy from practicing breathing techniques; bellies newly vacated and deflated. She might even buy a newspaper, like she did with her first, the one born right in the middle of a tornado, the first tornado in 100 years! Because that’s what fictional characters do—they do something poignant or peculiar in order to keep our attention.
Now, had S.’s sister called me, say, today and asked me if I wanted to visit the hospital, I’d have taken Life aside and had a word with it. Because truly, had Life done that—thrown me a curveball like that—I’d have wondered if Life was indeed toying with me. But as it were, Life was two days away from coming off as The Real Joker. No. Life wasn’t about to drop all coincidence, man-up and say once and for all: This is all happening for a reason.
Life ain’t like that. Life is mysterious. It keeps one guessing.
I could go on and explain moment by moment how Monday played out, but I’ll spare you the mundane details.
I shed some tears in the lobby. If there’s one place you’re allowed to cry without anyone paying you much mind, it’s in a hospital. I texted Toby Joe letting him know how hard it was being there. And that I hadn’t really thought that it would be. I wrote that I needed to get a hold of myself for S.’s sake. That she may misinterpret my tears to be about her appearance or that things looked much worse than everyone let on. (Which, by the way, isn’t the case at all.)
I would not, could not make the visit about me. So I texted a few more messages to Toby and included a few obscenities about Life and I let out a couple of “Ha Has!” Because, it really is kind of funny if you think about it, maybe not in an Adam Sandler kind of way, but funny nonetheless. And I realized that this is something I think I have going for myself: when it comes to serious matters, no matter how difficult things are, no matter how sad or troubling they seem, I will find the part to laugh about.
But I digress.
I watched infant car seats get carried in and out of the lobby. I picked out the “It’s a Girl” and “It’s a Boy!” balloons and each one sent a thousand tiny gasps throughout my chest. Never mind the sick people, the people who were there for other reasons. I wasn’t looking for them. I was looking for the new life. I was looking for me.
And so I waited. Because that’s what one does in a lobby: they wait. And I thought. I thought about everything that happened, and everything that has happened since. I thought about where I might be in a year from that moment, where I might be sitting and if I’d still be waiting. I thought about the cheap plastic boxed gifts we buy people, the cards with sentiments that help us say the things we’re unable to say on our own. I thought about the power of hope and how it’s a damn good thing Pandora closed that box in time.
Eventually I texted S.’s sister letting her know I was downstairs. I told her not to hurry, that I was fine and to come down whenever she wanted. I told her I was in the lobby, right outside the gift shop, the one filled with breath mints, junk food, and metallic balloons asking that someone Get Well Soon.
Don’t worry. I thought. You will.
You are going to be okay.
Laughing is good. Sometimes it keeps us from crying. It takes time and you’ll get there.
I truly believe that Life is “that” kid, the one who sticks “Kick Me” on your back. And thinks it’s uproariously funny.
You’re so very brave for opening up like this. It breaks my heart to read these posts and I feel for you.
Believe it or not, you’re doing great. You’re going to be fine. Life goes on, and if you can find the time to laugh at it every now and then, you’re making your trip more worthwhile.
How is it that this post ended up seeming so damn sad? It wasn’t bad at all. Overall, it was a great day, but you might not get that impression from the post above. I have half a mind to take this one down. Who knows. I might once I get TWM up and running. :]
I had a great time seeing S. yesterday. I don’t feel right about discussing her situation too much on here. So I made this ALL about me.
I’m such a blogger!
Anyway, sorry for coming off as a bummer yet again. Things are going well overall. I should probably write about all that instead. ;]
I always loved taking the bus, too. A street-eye view of Manhattan without the hassle of the subway (which I took, too, but I preferred the bus).
I miss NY so much, the bus makes me nostalgic. Ugh. Got to do something about that.
That was a nice post :-). I hope your friend is doing a lot better and that it was good to see her.
I also hope that under different circumstances you’ll be back in that hospital soon!
I really liked this post…especially the ending. Beautiful.
You are so genuine and honest and it is so refreshing. When I had a miscarriage 5 years ago at 12 weeks I remember thinking ahead to my due date, seeing pregnant women, seeing new babies and thinking how that should have been me. No one thinks about how the little things just remind you here and there of how there was supposed to be a new little person with you now. I don’t think it is supposed to be depressing, in a way it is comforting to think about because as much as it hurts to know you will never hold them, not thinking about it makes it seem as though they never existed at all, which would be worse really. Though your baby never went to full-term it has changed you and effected your life in some way, which speaks to how they were real, if only for a little while. Sorry….a little deeper than I intended to go, but that’s how I felt and still feel 5 years later. Beautiful post, and again so honest. Thank-you:)
Life is definitely a biotch sometimes. You handle her well. Some tough days for sure.
Sending you virtual hugs.
Being in the hospital must’ve been so tough for multiple reasons. I am so sorry that your due date has come and gone..mine will be here shortly and I it will be sad:( I really thought I would be pregnant but I am not…and I won’t be when the time comes so that is hard. Someday, this time in our lives will seem like a distant memory…I hope that happens sooner than later…
Sad, but bitterweet. A little funny to show you are ok. That things will be ok.
Ok, so I too am a little obsessed with buses. Forget the fact that they are REALLY irregular and you never know where to get them and that you need a PhD in urban planning to figure out the MTA bus map. I like sitting and watching the cityscape go by, connecting the dots between the subway stops (ohhh THAT’s where the Brooklyn Navy Yard is…).
When I lived in Paris a few years ago, I used to regularly arrive 45 min- an hour late when meeting up with my friend Maddy. She would text me – “Jen, I’ve been looking at the Seine for an hour. Are you in a bus??” She always knew. But Paris is too pretty to see it underground. :)