Thursday, June 22, 2017

The 4th floor

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a country bumpkin. I've lived in a cottage in the country for 20 years. While I've had my youthful days of driving down to San Francisco and staying out late, these last several years, all I've wanted to do is be home on the farm.
The addition of a husband to this situation made it even more desirable to do this country living thing.
We raise chickens. We planted a garden. He has been able to have a photo studio in the barn to hone his craft and follow his passion. We both often work from home, and catch each other throughout the day puttering here and there. He is the hardest worker I know. Always hacking away at something. We have plans for the future that revolve around sustainable living.

It all looks so far away from the 4th floor.

I open the shades at night, so we can wake with the sunrise. The setting sun is fierce in our window, and hints at the heat wave everyone else has been experiencing. I've never lived in an apartment. Whoops. I'm wrong. We lived in a multi-story apartment in Oakland when I was about 5. At least, I think it was multi-story. For all I know, it could have been two stories, and kids just have awesome imaginations.
But for most of my adult life, I've lived in the country. The cottage isn't even my first farm girl place. I used to live way up a hill from which you could see the Golden Gate Bridge from Santa Rosa on a good day. It was quite a haul to get anywhere. My nearest neighbor was a half mile at least. I've just always loved being remote.

But, my only experience with living in tall buildings is in a hotel. My brain is struggling to make sense of this. I should be looking down at a golf course, or an ancient building. I should be on a business trip or holiday. I should be anticipating sight seeing tomorrow rather than anticipating our next visit from the doctor. We are in the city, yet the night is still inky black to me. In part because we can't figure out how to turn off a weird large, square, blue light above the hospital bed. It has turtle decals to trick us into thinking we're swimming beneath the turtles. I guess. Some vacation.

I've also never stayed in a hotel room that has a big window on the door. Sometimes I can't decide if I'm in the fish bowl, or looking into the fish bowl. There's a curtain deeper in the room, but when we're awake, I watch the world walk by. Rather the inhabitants of this very particular world. The woman who sings magnificently as she takes her daily walks. The long, lean man who refuses to wear a gown and wears a plaid jacket and always a hat. He walks as if his life depended on it. And it does. There's a teeny tiny woman always with a pink turban and a pink robe and pink slippers and freshly painted pink nails. There's even pink puff balls that flop around her slippers as she shuffles here and there. I think she's a pro at this. I think she's close to the other side. The good side. The home stretch.

I feel like a ghost. Dom sleeps a lot. I leave the room to take care of business. Sometimes people make eye contact and say hello. But some times there's an emergency down the hall, and I become invisible. I just float through doors and haunt my new home.

I'm strangely reminded of summer camp, or the many retreats where I've stayed in hotel like buildings. It feels like I should be able to tip toe out and meet someone giggling in the hall to run down to vending for a snack and some gossip.
But, they're all working. And I'm not here for camp. Though I've had many come to Jesus moments in this place.

How many people live here? Let me rephrase that. How many people live here without a plastic bracelet with names and dates and bar-codes? How many people live here that have an avocado tucked away in a community kitchen and a car that has to get moved daily and just a peripheral relationship with doctors and nurses?  I feel like I'm cutting class as I stalk past the front desk and pay no mind to schedules or bells. And there's so many dings and rings here. But they don't signify recess.

There's silver linings to this ghost walk. I approach the door to the parking lot, and even before opening the first of two doors to the outside, I can feel the warmth. As I step outside, it's like someone has wrapped a wet, hot towel around my face. I remember everyone is melting while I'm bundled away in a cardigan.

I miss Terry the Talker. Can you even believe it? Our nurse tonight just mumbles and shrugs. It feels different. We can't break the ice today. There's someone in our old room already. I'm a little jealous. It was small. But Dom and I like small. We like the furniture piled on top of itself. We like stepping on each other. We like people who, even if they may not catch all the social cues are at least interested and passionate.

The night nurse just came in. I remembered just as she was leaving, that she may know how to turn off the aquarium. I caught her breezing her way out, and she just flicked the switch, no problem. So, the turtles have gone to bed. And so shall I.


Oneda Patterson said...

Cassandra you have a wonderful talent at writing and attention to detail. This is a situation and environment you've never been in. It doesn't compare to any other. There are people there who may be as sick or sicker than Dom. Is there a waiting room where families are that you could compare notes? It would be so helpful to be able to share with others in similar situations. I'm glad Dom can sleep. Held healing. It's not easy to sleep in a hospital. Why do you have a glass floor? While Dom is sleeping can you get out on your own and check out the environment? Go to a movie or museum? Without guilt? Sorry my thoughts aren't as organized as yours. Hugs!

Cassandra said...

Oneda, thank you for reading and commenting.
There's a weekly support group for families, so I'll be heading to that next week.
We do have several friends who have endured the same or similar diagnosis, so that has been a tremendous help.
There is a family room for people like me who live here. Honestly, I think it's only a handful. I'm doing laundry as I type. I can escape in there to have phone calls also if Dom is sleeping.
There isn't a glass floor, but above his bed is a blue light that looks like we're below an aquarium with the turtle decals. And we do have a door with a big window. That's what makes it feel like we're in a fish tank.
I haven't wanted to get out too much just yet. Our days have honestly been very full just processing and managing. Our window looks out on Sutter's Fort, so I will visit that at some point. It's also been over 100 since we've been here, so it's been nice to stay put. I'm sure once the newness wears off, I may head out more.
Hugs back!