Thursday, August 17, 2006
Betwixt Me and You
I go in dutifully every 3-4 months to the local hospital to get my blood drawn. It is always a surprise in contrast from the bustling antiseptic vinyl tiled health institutions that I was used to in SF. Upon entering this 20 bed hospital, one is immediately embraced by the waiting room flanked with plaid overstuffed chairs, sofas and rocking chairs replete with afghans and well used pillows. Memorial’s hominess practically begs a visitor to kick back and stay awhile, so I do. Visits have now become ready excuse to wind my way into the cozy slip of a gift shop stuffed to the gill with various sundries. It is where Gloria stands her post all radiance in platinum silver curls, Kelly green smock, broad fuchsia smile behind a narrow counter bejeweled with candy bars, chewing gums and breath mints. She means business; she is there to sell what needs to be bought. Gloria catcalls out to passersby, peddling her wares with the open friendliness of the grandmother-next-door mixed with the no nonsense gusto of a ballpark vendor. Lured in by her charm, she now has become a special point of brightness in my world. And I am a bull- one possessing a modicum of grace. My wheelchair is some 350 odd lbs. of high tech balletic ingenuity. While I perch ever so lightly upon my pleather pedestal, my part woman-part machine self totals an approximate whopping 460 lbs. This is considerable mass to maneuver within a space that is little more than a 7 by 3 foot aisle booby trapped with every conceivable breakable object available. I am one of those deep sea submersibles, thinking-sensing proboscis, at once nimble yet lumbering probing the canyon floors. Similarly every inch of these shelves I take in tasting and examining pushing further past: pastel knit newborn caps, handmade wooden puzzles, Raku tea sets upon bamboo trays, beaded eyeglass holders and sunflower windsocks. Intermixed with this slow perusal is light conversation with Gloria over the new porcelain ornaments, talk about the weather, rounds of golf to be learned and of course anticipated visits from grandchildren. The whole dance of delight and every day takes about 10 minutes and though time is short and our talk at the surface, I plumb her depths through the look in her smiling eyes. We are sequestered from the world by the immediate intimacy formed from close quarters and the delicate negotiation of the space betwixt. Now that I have learned that 100% of every sale goes directly to support the patients in the hospital and adjacent nursing home, it has become my civic duty to buy a Twix bar or two. Coupled with the refreshment of a few shared moments with one delightful lady, I get the synergistic cookie crunch-caramel chew of my decade favorite candy bar to double my pleasure. While I used to indiscriminately purchase this chocolate sweet whenever I got the craving, no longer. Now it is inexplicably tied to this ritualistic outing, homage to a special kind of ordinary- a very special treat.