Stained Scotchguarded polyester seats fill the room, dull shades of olive and peach, some of which look like they have been here since I was in middle school. My coffee is tepid and as much as I want to read my book, the murmurs and faint noise of the TV are just enough to keep me from being able to focus on the words on the page.
Not that I’ve ever been able to read much in hospital waiting rooms.
My right leg is crossed over my left, fidgeting while I try to sit patiently, and I occasionally remember to wiggle my left toes to keep them from falling asleep. The beige walls are so bland that my eyes wander to anything at all stimulating; even pamphlet about heart disease becomes interesting enough to stare at for a while.
This time, I’m here for something minor. My mom had carpal tunnel surgery, a simple outpatient procedure that, compared to previous visits, seems like little more than a paper cut. My family and friends don’t usually treat themselves to such minor events. Cancer surgeries, major cardiac procedures, strokes – it’s all or nothing, it seems.
Perhaps a month or so ago, I was talking to my friend Neva about how differently we view hospitals. We’ve both spent an inordinate amount of time in them, and at this point, the intensive care unit doesn’t phase us like it seems to phase most people. The sounds, smells, alarms, tubes, fluids, etc. are not at all out of place for us.
The family across the room just got a good report. The middle aged man had a heavy mass the size of a football removed, and doctors are confident. I’m glad for them. Once the good report is heard, though, the son leaves to get his kids from school, the friends give hugs, and the pastor goes back to the office, leaving the wife to sit alone, half watching a show on HGTV, picking up her phone now and then to call someone else and share the report. And she waits.
I hate waiting. I’m not good at waiting. And all I seem to do lately is wait. I waited all week for my day off, and I had plans, but now… I wait. I sit, and fidget, and reposition myself, and wish I was somewhere else. It feels like a bad metaphor for the rest of my life: not as bad as it could be, not a scary as it used to be, but a lot of hurrying up to do nothing. A lot of little motions that keep me from going stale, but really aren’t getting me anywhere. A lot of boredom.
They said it would be another hour or so, but that was about three hours ago. No one has indicated that we’re leaving any time soon. I’m really trying to not be cranky.
I knew that changing careers and totally upending my life wouldn’t be done in a week. But it has been nearly four months, and I’m ready to be onto the next step, not that I even know what that is. I’m still sending my resume and cover letters out, but can’t even get interviews. I’m saving as much money as I can, but it is taking forever to build up to a level where it feels useful. So I wait, and fidget, knowing that the one saving grace of waiting rooms is that while it feels interminable, eventually, everyone gets to move on, one way or another.