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.