More Waiting

A doctor’s waiting room in the middle of the day. Several white-haired patients reading outdated magazines, a couple of mothers with sniffy children and me, by the door, trying to keep as far away from everyone as possible.

Problem number one is what to do with my hands. My feet are shuffling away under my seat but my hands are more obvious. I grip on to the sides of my chair and try not to think about all of the germs I have made contact with.

Why would anyone want to sit so far inside the room? Can’t they see how trapped they are? The door is open and a nice, fresh breeze is blowing past me. I breathe it in and try to calm myself down.

“You’ll be alright, at least until you get home. You just have to be okay for an hour or so.”, I tell myself. I am only there to get some prescriptions. I cannot talk about how hard things are again.

One of the receptionists walks past me and closes the door. I am aware of how silent it is without outside sounds and how stale the air feels. Ten other people breathing in and out. Recycled air going around and around. I hate it. I want to stand outside but I am sick of always having to be different. Why can’t I just sit and wait like everyone else?

Someone else comes through the door and doesn’t shut it properly. Within a few seconds a breeze has opened it completely and I feel momentarily relieved until I am faced with another problem. If the receptionist sees that the door is open, she will think that I have opened it. I could tell her that the wind blew it open but what if she doesn’t believe me?

I close the door as if I am bothered by the cool air just like everyone else seems to be. I wish I had walls and a door to close around just myself.

 

A bit of these days

There were no Valentines for me because I do not live in a movie. I’m not sure why I expected flowers or cards. I’m not dating anyone and the last time someone attempted to get my number I didn’t even realise until it was too late. I say I hate Valentine’s day and that is mostly true but the daydreamer in me still opens the door and checks the mail with a quirky smile as if there were cameras on me.

If this was a movie, everyone would have walked out of the cinema ages ago.

Lately I have been struggling to get my words out. I’ll attempt to contribute to conversations and I’ll get bored of what I’m saying before I have finished speaking. I hold onto the look on other people’s faces as they wait for my drawn out sentences to end. It’s like they are expecting something interesting to come out so they give me all of their attention only to be disappointed.

Then I think of all of the things I didn’t say, the dumb things I said and the spaces between my words where I hang out. I think it’s getting harder for me to act like a usual human being.

Here is some more space.

 

How’s your self-love?

Maybe she could read my aura, maybe I am easy to pick as someone who struggles a bit, maybe she was a little odd too or maybe she simply saw my scars and decided to ask how I am in the nicest possible way.

“How’s your self-love?”, she asked after I purchased something from her.

“I’m sorry, what?”, I replied.

“Your self-love.. How is your self-love?”, Her eyes stared deep into my own as she searched for some sort of answer.

“Oh, not a whole lot of self-love here.”, I chuckled.

She looked like she was going to cry. “Oh no, I want to help you.”, she said as she walked around to my side of the table. “Let me give you a hug.”

I felt a bit awkward as this lovely stranger who was full of concern gave me a hug but it was kind so I thanked her.

“You’re great! Remember that. Sometimes I have to remind myself that too. You’re okay as you are.”, she told me.

“Thank you… You’re great too! I’ll try to remember that.”, I replied and I walked away still not bursting with self-love but loving this crazy world and some of the beautiful people in it quite a bit more.

She helped me a little bit too

She turns to me in the cleaning products aisle. “Is this shampoo?”, she asks as she holds up a bottle of bleach. “No, no!”, I exclaim. She’s old and tiny, such a poor, little love. “Shampoo is down that way.”, I point in the right direction as she stares back blankly. “I’ll take you down there.”, I say kindly.

Her accent is thick. Greek maybe? Italian? It is hard to understand her as she picks up various bottles of shampoo and asks me questions. Her hair is a dry puff of white that crowns her sweet little face. Why hasn’t she got anyone else helping her?

She tells me that she wants “2 in 1” and I look around for a shampoo and conditioner combo, which I eventually find for around $3. She is so pleased with the price that she asks me to get her another bottle. At least for a while she wont have to buy any more. As she thanks me I make sure she is headed in the right direction towards the checkouts. I hope that this was just a random trip to the supermarket and that she has family or a carer who help her with grocery shopping and around the house. Short of surrendering my day and invading hers, there is nothing more I can do so I say goodbye and head back to the cleaning products with a hint of a smile on my face.

Her arms, my arms

Halloween is here and every year it seems to become more popular in Australia. I don’t really care about Halloween itself but I usually appreciate the effort people go to with costumes. Some of them are really creative. The other day however, I saw a costume that made me furious.

I’ll mention now that this was a daytime Halloween event that I happened to stop by, just to see what it was like. There were heaps of children around so it came as a surprise to me to see a grown woman dressed up as, well, I am not sure exactly. A psych patient? A suicide victim? She had obviously watched a tutorial on fake cuts and scars so wow, good on her. She didn’t look gory and cool like I don’t know, a zombie or a ghost. She just looked fucked up and it really bothered me. She had a huge fake cut on her neck and then up her arms were bloody, fake self-harm cuts.

Sooo spooky…

I can understand the appeal of dressing up as a “crazy person” in a straight jacket or whatever. It’s still pretty offensive but seems to fit well with a scary theme. Having realistic looking cuts like that woman had though is just so wrong. What was she teaching the kids that were gathered around her?  I felt like she needed a trigger warning.

She got to wipe off her cuts at the end of the day but those of us who have hurt ourselves are stuck with reminders of the pain we have been through. We’re not a costume and we aren’t monsters but I felt hideous after seeing that woman so I kept my arms close to my body.

I really liked the person who dressed up as Donald Trump though. Now that was fucking scary!

Unfit guardian of the bees

Just before my shower today there was a peculiar humming sound coming from my bathroom light/fan. I immediately investigated, expecting some sort of malfunction and discovered a sweet little bee buzzing around inside the fixture. The poor guy was in a panic so I switched off the light and fan to allow him to find a way out, which he did fairly quickly but then he was buzzing like mad as he tried to get out of my bathroom window.

I’ve always loved bees and I’ve scooped many out of pools and fountains. If I come across one which is dying, I’ll place it gently into a garden. This little dude who was trying to get outside deserved to be released and so I found a jar and some cardboard to catch him with.

Unfortunately my timing was off. In the process of getting the cardboard under the jar with the bee becoming more and more aggressive, I accidentally trapped and hurt one of his tiny little legs. I watched as he flew around the jar with one leg sticking out motionlessly and I felt like the biggest monster in the world.

“I am so sorry.”, I said again and again as my eyes filled with tears. I thought about how much pain he must have been in and how scared he must have felt. I considered letting him sting me out of revenge but I knew that he would die, if he did. I wondered if he would recover from his injury. Maybe it was just like a bruise or a sprain. Could he live without his leg? If he found other bees, would they be able to help him?

I couldn’t bear to look at him any longer so I crept outside with the jar and released him in a shady part of the garden. He limped along a leaf and I hurried back inside, hoping he would fly far away from here. Far away from me.

 

The lovely universe

I missed a phone call today from an old friend. We were in an outpatient group together years ago and kind of lost contact for a while until maybe two years ago when we ran into each other at the same outpatient place. We exchanged numbers again but never caught up because life is busy and scary and even with the best intentions people drift apart.

When I saw that I had missed her call I was thrown into a little panic. What did she want? Is she okay? What if she wants to meet up?

I put off calling her back for an hour because I am hopeless at talking on the phone. I considered texting her but that seemed even more rude that not calling, especially if something serious was going on. Eventually, before I could talk myself out of it, I pressed “call”.

“Hi S&S, how are you?”, she answered casually.

“Hi! I’m okay, how are you?”, I replied.

“Good thanks. I have a list of things I called you about but I am not sure where I put it. Uhm, let me think. Oh yeah, I emailed you the bill and I wanted to thank you for your emails…”

I became really concerned and confused at this point.

“Uh, I never emailed you.”, I said slowly. I was scared that she was having a manic or psychotic episode and I wasn’t really sure how to handle it.

“Is this S&S?”

“Yeah. S&S from the hospital group.”

“Oh! You’re just calling to say hello?”

“You called me earlier today. I am returning your call.”

Then it all clicked for her and she realised she had confused me with someone who shares my name. She was really excited when she knew it was me. “It was meant to be!”, she said and I agreed. I told her I don’t usually call people back but decided to be brave today and she was so happy. We had a long chat and it wasn’t awkward or anything. She has moved out of the city but asked if we could stay in contact. Knowing how much we both find phone calls difficult, she asked if we could text each other. I said that was a great idea.

So there were go. The lovely universe brought us back together and gave each of us something to smile about.

Greed

When my grandmother was alive she had a lady come over to her house about once a week to do the cleaning. The cleaner, who I will call Mary, was paid generously and was much appreciated by my grandma. Mary was also employed by several of my grandma’s friends so she had built up a good reputation and was treated well.

In later years I suspect a good part of Mary’s days of cleaning involved having tea and biscuits with grandma, which is fine except my grandma was too old to notice when things weren’t properly cleaned.

I guess you could say they were almost friends but they were from very different worlds and Mary was still there to do a job. Mary wasn’t irreplaceable, nor did my grandma depend on her entirely. They had a good work relationship but it wasn’t like one of those stories where elderly people treat their carers or staff like family and end up leaving everything to them.

When my grandma passed away, we picked out one of her beautiful paintings to give to Mary as a thank you and so she would have something to remember her by. I can’t remember if Mary attended the funeral but she kept working for my grandma’s friends and we shocked to hear how upset and offended she was that grandma didn’t include her in her will! It was outrageous.

It wasn’t enough for Mary to have experienced my Grandma’s kindness while she was alive, she greedily expected some sort of extra monetary reward for doing what she was employed to do and she had the nerve to express this to one of my grandma’s best friends.

We never got a thank you for the painting, which we packaged up neatly and asked one of grandma’s friends to pass on to Mary. I wonder if she looks at it and remembers my gentle and beautiful grandma or is instead filled with self-pity because she was never as special as she thought she was.

Super spy!

Earlier today I was outside getting some sun, as I am told I should do, while wandering around pretending I had important things to do when I think I saw one of my ex therapists.

She was sitting at an outdoor cafe, reading the newspaper and eating lunch so I stared at her as I walked past. I guess she was really into the news or her sandwich because she didn’t look up and I couldn’t confirm that it 100% was her so I became a creepy spy. I stood nearby pretending to look at my phone like I was waiting for someone but I kept glancing over at the cafe. When I felt like I had stood there for too long, I walked past again as though I were going to one of the shops nearby. I suppose a normal person might have said hello or something like that but I didn’t really want to and although, after some good spying, I was more than sure it was her, there was still a tiny chance that it wasn’t. I wandered over to an ATM, checked my account balance and then found another corner to watch from but I couldn’t get a good view so I walked back. Again.

I know, I am really subtle. It must’ve felt weird for her if she was even aware that it was me. I walked with confidence but I felt like I was going to have a panic attack and I am not really sure why. I guess it was just odd to see her after all of this time, especially out of her office. It was particularly strange that she was eating lunch in a suburb near me, not at some fancy place around where I imagine she would live. As I passed her again, I felt like laughing. I was being ridiculous and if she was pretending not to see me then she was too. I wandered into a shop because I didn’t want to leave but I also didn’t want to just stand around spying on her and when I emerged, ten minutes or so later, she was gone.

I really wish she had noticed me.

I wish she had said hello.