I am officially sick of hospitals and yet…here I am again. I don’t even want to count how many times I’ve been in either a hospital or doctors office this year because it will just depress me. It’s Rhonda again this time. She’s in the OR while I’m out in the lobby forcing myself to sit down and write when what I really want to do is sit in front of the waiting room TV and not think. Also, I have just reminded myself that it isn’t over yet either. After next month, when I have my hernia surgery, everyone in our family will have spent time in surgery and the hospital this year. 2009 – Give it back to the Indians.
That last paragraph cause a big sigh. There has been a whole hell of a lot that has gone on behind the scenes than people aren’t aware of, with me and Rhonda I mean. This year has hit us hard. It’s tested us in ways we weren’t ready for and on things didn’t know we were going to be tested on. Turns out weathering storms like we’ve been through takes a lot out of a couple. It certainly has made it clear that we’ve got work to do to talk this five year marriage to ten years, to twenty, to fifty five. The procession of wheelchairs going in and out of the lobby area was curious at first, as though I needed to know each person’s affliction. Now it’s a distraction and I’m thinking I need a better place to sit.
I decided to get up and take a break, but there aren’t too many places to go in a hospital, something I always seem to re-learn once I’m here. Of course there are cafeterias. And seeing as I am a compulsive eater when I am stressed, taking a peek at the Lima Memorial offerings table seemed like a good idea. I rode the elevator to the ground floor and took my time walking down the long and vacant hallway leading the way to the cafeteria. Ironic that I’m walking through the basement bowels to get to the food, I thought. Gross. A lone nurse passed me walking the opposite direction.
“This isn’t a great day to try the cafeteria!” she said cheerily.
“There is one, a great day?” I said without breaking stride.
Turns out, she was right. Bu most likely so was I. After checking out a lonely, if not aging, buffet, I opted for a Sprite and called it good. I don’t drink soda much, certainly not unless it’s diet. But every now and then I get a regular Sprite because it makes me feel good. I don’t know why. Something caught my eye on the way out I stopped and looked at the vending machines for a moment. One Dasani water machine had like a whole row dedicated to energy drinks. What the hell? Those things are so nasty and not good for you. And I guess I don’t know if they are any worse for you than other crap that’s sold in vending machines, but it does seem like there is a huge social component to the rise of energy drinks; I’ve seen more teenagers sucking down Red Bulls, Monster and other sugary caffeine bombs. How is that something you want to endorse as a parent? What are they doing in the Dasani water machine? Weird.
Now I’m back in the waiting room in a little kiosk wearing my ipod so I’m not on the hook for talking to or answering anyone…heh heh heh…like I ever was. Richie Sambora is piping into my brain by way of new noise reducing headphones. This cd – part of the mass of old school music I’ve been downloading this weekend – makes me happy. It cd takes me back to 1992 when I worked at Pizza Hut and didn’t come home from college over the summer. Instead, I worked. The Greeley Stampede is an annual rodeo where I went to school and we had a booth there selling personal pan pizzas.
I had long hair and loved playing guitar. Pizzas and rodeos during the day. Beer, parties, music and women at night. No school because it was summer. My biggest concern was how to break up with the girl I had been seeing since high school or, maybe a better way to put it is that my biggest concern then was not getting caught cheating on the girl I had been dating since high school. My grown up self was inside and trying to get out and didn’t have any idea how to do that. I knew I didn’t want to be with her. But there was my non-grown up self on the outside, a foot against the door…not quite ready to go away yet. There’s this jacket I still have, it’s missing an elbow because I threw it in the corner when I was working and the sleeve fell into a vat of bleach. Don’t ask me why I was wearing that jacket in the summer. It was sort of heavy and more suited for winter. And actually Travis has that jacket in LA right now. He sent me a picture of it the other day. Bastard.
Whoosh…back from 1992 with a single waft of antiseptic from two EMT’s walking behind me and a startling song break on the CD. All of a sudden I’m right back in the hospital. I looked around. Nothing new. Then I thought about Ava and Lily. My mom is at home with the girls. When we left they were outside riding Bird’s new scooter up and down the driveway. Up and down. Up…and down. Then they were doing cheers. Then they were slapping high fives to grandma. I tried to catch it on video through the screen of the kitchen window. I hope it came out. It’s hard for me to observe moments like that because I know they are fleeting, time limited and one of a kind experiences every time they happen. It’s amazing that these two new little lives have led me towards thinking so much about getting old and death.
Ava’s Birthday certainly seemed like a success and lasted forever. She knew that Grandma was coming in for her birthday. So on Thursday when Grandma arrived, things felt festive. It was her first day of school Thursday and the morning had been filled with nuclear meltdowns of epic proportions (see: Ava attaching herself to the kitchen table and screaming “I’m not going! I want you and mommy to go too!” She was exhausted by dusk and out for the night fairly early. We did Friday morning, her actual ‘day’ the way we always do – singing to her and having cupcakes with candles. Saturday was her party – a standard Nunnery engagement with Dad in charge of food and mom in charge of everything else. Rhonda went a little crazy with the thematic this year – ladybug everything.
Ava does this thing now when she gets uncomfortable…she starts acting nonsensical. Ok, what does that mean? Well it means just that. She starts rolling her eyes and shaking her hands and blithering words and noises that don’t mean anything. It’s absolutely hilarious, a visual breakdown of logical behavior when her four year old self just doesn’t have enough words to say what she’s feeling. She only does it when she feels good and doesn’t know how to express herself. When she feels bad and wants to express herself, well, that she can figure out. We went to Mexican food at this local place called La Charreada for her birthday (she picked it – nice). I let the waitress know what day it was when we walked in and when we were done eating they sent over the whole crew of servers with a big fat blob of flaming fried ice cream to sing happy birthday in Spanish. And what did Ava think of it all? Hard to say because she crawled under the table and started acting crazy.
In some cases, she just doesn’t have enough tools in her emotional toolbox to deal with everything coming at her. Just this week she dealt with turning four, her first day of school and going to the hospital with her sister which couldn’t have been any kind of fun for her, for either of them actually. It’s a lot. And there are definitely times where she’s regressing too. I think she’s afraid to turn four and still wants to be a baby. It’s clear that she has concerns that maybe too much will be expected of her the older she gets. She’s not ready to give up her ratty green blanket yet. She doesn’t want to stop sucking her thumb. I can’t say I blame her. Grown up life can really suck compared to the life of a three year old.