almost all the faces around me are older — maybe one is around my age. all of them speak of future plans – of ALFs, of psychiatry, of houses, of medicine, of paying for college. Some lament the harshness of their financial situations (cautiously venturing a daydream about “the easy life” but all of them grounded by families dependent on them, by the powerful draw of money. All of them with reality realities. At the end of each day they all hurry – scampering from the auditorium as if hunted by the very duties they are obligated to perform. They dash, with hasty goodbyes, running into expensive cars bought as gifts to themselves or as an “investment” for the family. I alone am left. Slowly putting away my ivory lap-top. I reach into my voluminous purse a la Middle East to pull out my ladybug sunglass holder. Transferring my scratched glasses to the holder and placing my sunglasses gently on my nose, I gather my purse, the briefcase left to me by a friend and my 7 year old jacket. Casually I stroll toward my 17 year old dark blue Honda as I weave my way between the hungry Luxury cars – all bottled up at the traffic light, honking when others dare to wait more than 2 seconds after the light changes.
Getting into my car I pray it starts and breath easier when it does. I send my gratitude to the Creator for keeping my car. Quickly I roll down the windows because the A/C died on the way from my previous city and the mechanic up there warned me to be careful about getting it fixed. That warning still rings in my ears. Driving down the road I glance around at the sparkling gems of sunlight riding the slow blue waves of the ocean on both sides of the Key. I listen to NPR – yesterday a “champion of the poor” was discussing the criminalization of the poor and how ‘positive self-talk’ has deluded many people who now suffer needlessly b/c they can’t figure out why “visualization” of full bank accounts doesn’t actualize so they can pay their bills.
I don’t know what’s on NPR today. I’m not listening. Instead my mind grapples with the ironies of life. My colleagues sometimes talk of how it would be to be me — to be “free”. And I must admit, on some days it’s thrilling to think of all the possibilities that lay before me but today, today I am going home to a lovely apartment where no one is waiting for me. Today, I think what it must be like to have a child jumping up and down because “Mommy” is home or to be held in the strong arms of my lover. Today, I wonder what it would be like to chat nonsensically with different friends about our plans for the night, the weekend or even next week. Today, I think of how long it has been that I have placated the gnawing loneliness/bitter acceptance of a life sacrificed at the alter of medicine with daydreams of “that day”.
Getting off the freeway, merging onto traffic I am barely touched by the long line of cars piled on all sides waiting for the bridge to drop. I turn into the bank’s parking lot, exiting through my favorite shortcut to my apt. I spend a few more minutes in the car, listening to NPR. Finally at home I look down at the see-through plastic orange bag containing the latest edition of the Yellow Pages. It’s been there 3, 4 days now. I don’t have the heart to bring it in – can’t deal with anymore added papers. As I unlock my door I wonder how long it will be there and furtively look around at my neighbor’s doors to see if I am the only one. Thankfully, I’m not. I don’t feel so bad.
Stepping into my house I immediately drop my purse onto the creamy love-seat and gently place my laptop back on the small 3×3 black table I bought after giving away the larger, heavier table and chairs I was first gifted when I moved here. Then it’s off to slip into something more comfortable. My mind can not let go of the differences between myself and my colleagues – of how full their lives seem, of how tired I am of telling people this and hearing their well-meaning platitudes about patience, sacrifice and “it all turning well”. Sometimes all I need is for someone to hear me and not feel the need to try and “comfort” me. Sometimes I just want someone to just listen.
I call a work colleague about a possible get-together tomorrow night and after a brief conversation, ring off. I have all the information I need. I know I have to study for my in-service exam but I can’t bring myself to do so after so many hours of painful lectures. I’ve been down this road so many times before – ruminated on life, love, loneliness, dreams deferred and quiet despair. Mercifully I am neither depressed nor despairing – only thoughtful. I pick up a new novel I bought at Target the other night. Opening it up, I delve into another world — far from mine and my heart begins to find comfort. Pausing, I peek into my heart and re-realize how wonderful books have been for me. I am uplifted by the knowledge that I can always find solace in the arms of a good book.
After a few pages I find inspiration, so I open a digitalized white page and being to type. Catharsis.