bedside ER, my mom is using her 1 bar of signal to argue with her sister, and has been for hours. "sibling rivilary, huh?" i say to my nana, the patient, "not even immune to hospital rooms." she laughs and grabs my hand. i continue, "you and i will never know what that's like," making reference to our mutual only-childhoods. "thank jehovah," she replies in high spirits.
it must be a super power to maintain a conversation while hearing, processing and contextualizing all other audible exchanges in the vicinity: the cell call is close but the voice on the other end is far away and pitched by agitation; the death rattle of pneumonia from the patient to the east and the whispered worries of the staff regarding her condition; the recent diagnosis of a bladder infection to the west; the man who slipped and somehow landed on broken glass at the kravitz center must submit to a drug test to prove he wasn't impaired when he fell. they give the pneumoniac woman a percocet because she was pained to breathe.
super power :: super drag
in the waiting room a herion addict saunters slumply steered at us, mutters seductively, "you ladies happen to has a smoke icum bum?" my mom gave it up 2 months prior, though it agonizes her daily. "NO." the words from the most recent vice episode (subjected to both tobacco and ibogaine) ring in my ears: "heroin addiction is the worst addiction in the world," which i believe was based on the 90% relapse-rate of users who even elect to pursue treatment. it was a biased and one-dimensional assessment of addiction if i ever heard one. a woman walks into the ER. she sits down at registration and begins to describe a rash that has appeared and is spreading: burning, itching, pustules that fill and eventually burst..."and then my tooth fell out this morning," she concludes.
my nana tries to make conversation with me. she asks about my business but i especially don't want to talk about work. she asks about the only guy she's seen me with in a year.
"do you have a lot of common interests?"
"i guess," i evade, "is that important?" (toe dips)
"well yes," she begins, but my thoughts go AWOL. she's triggered the landslide. the past comes a'haunting: joe. our cornerstone of shared interests. also our failed engagement, which in it's particular ambiguity is an engagement always failing. the guys, the future, the life you're supposed to live with all of it's lifey accessories: plastic car to fill with a plastic wife and a plastic husband and their plastic tax-exempt dependents, the paper money, the paperwork: oh god, all the paper.
WHAT AM I DOING?
YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL, TAKING CARE OF YOUR GRANDMOTHER.
YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL, TAKING CARE
YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL
YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL
face filled with mounds of dirt and mountain debris, so i lower it to hide the mess beneath the brim of my hat. you won't ever commit, the voice says, or accept any responsibility. so there we rule out guys being anything more than guys and children ever being yours. and you will be in the hospital one day, and who will come for you? no siblings, no partner, no children, and no impetus to change any of those factors. you are comfortable alone, but you are not exempt from being a human.
"...nowadays, some parents outlive their children..." my nana says, as if to offer me some hope.
it's my own design, it's my own remorse
help me to decide. help me make the most
of freedom and of pleasure
nothing ever lasts forever