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Oprah, Miranda, My Sisters, and Me

It pains me to say it because I think it’s the height of narcissism to stick your face and name on anything and everything, but I have quite a weak spot for the Oprah Chai at Starbucks. Not the latte. Just the tea. What Oprah has to do with my late afternoon coffee alternative is beyond me, but nonetheless, I could drink it by the gallon. I don’t even miss my coffee when I drink it.

It has become a habit to pick one up when I am driving to my sister’s, which is a little more than an hour away. I generally let it steep for a few minutes, and by the time I get to the highway, I pull over and take the bags out, let it cool off for another few minutes and drink it once I get off the highway. It’s a routine I find comforting.

I picked one up on Saturday afternoon and as I pulled out of the drive, I turned up the CD. It was Miranda Lambert, who is WAY country, but it fit my mood on a sunny afternoon. For an hour or so, it was just me, my tea, and my music.

I love driving. It can be great therapy. I let my mind wander wherever it wants to go and it often ends up in and out off prayer. A lot of questions. A lot of uncertainty gets acknowledged while I drive.

So this weekend, it was more prayer. More “what the hell is going on here, and could you please fill me in?” Not really any kind of answer. At least not right away.

When I got to my sister’s, our plans changed and we ended up going to dinner. It had been a long time since it had been just the three of us. We laughed more that night that we have on a long time. We ordered dessert and ended up with new inside jokes. I was really tired when I drove home, but dang was I happy.

I thought, for the millionth time in the last six months, that this is part of why I am home. The things I lost in November are still missed, but they won’t ever come close to Saturday night, or getting to hug the kids every week. Would I trade that for my own bathroom? Nah.

On the drive home, and again today, I was reminded that what I’m learning is how to live again. I’m learning patience, a virtue I do not naturally possess. Waiting, joy, and a whole bunch of other things are lessons I am trying to accept. They are quite hard for this girl who has never lived anything but an anxious existence. I’m learning to roll with the universe a little.

I’m really glad I don’t have to do it alone.

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Wait.

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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.