hospital lobby. day in and day out. information exchanged in hushed, respectful tones over two day old donuts and cold coffee. you look around. you notice all the lovely bamboo they've put in the lobby, to soothe you, to ease the tension, to make you feel like this is a hospital that tends to the needs of the living.
on day three you notice the bamboo is fake.
you pick out your spot in the lobby and grow attached to it. this is the sofa we sat on yesterday. it worked out just fine. we should sit here today as well. at night, you relax. visiting hours are over, there's not much more to be done, the feeling of powerlessness and waiting has exhausted you and you refuse to feel guilty for leaving and doing something for yourself.
you go down to the jersey shore, you eat wonderfully cheesy pizza with root beer and envy all the teenagers whose lives haven't yet changed. you say hello again to the atlantic ocean and apologize for being gone so long, you take long walks around parks and lakes back in town and you swing on the swing set and remember what it used to feel like to be a child, loved and taken care of and innocent.
only not all of us got that feeling growing up, so you look at your friend and you wish you could do that for him now, you wish there was something you could say or do to make your friend feel innocent and young again and swinging on a swing set is as close as you get.
Well, that and reading a copy of Goodnight Moon aloud as your friend drifts off to sleep.
The fireworks on july 4th are beautiful. you ride the wooden roller coaster even though they bang the crap out of you, you eat 99 cent hamburgers and drink sticky coke and eat funnel cake and lose by only six points in mini golf and ride the ferris wheel and you laugh and you breathe and you don't apologize for taking huge armfuls of life whenever you can. because it's all going to be okay, the patient will recover, the friend will recover, the family will recover, this family that took you in and never made you feel like an outsider, never left you out of a single deeply personal conversation and never looked at you oddly and wondered why the hell you were there, there was just pure acceptance and love and it goes down better than all the pizza and root beer and roller coasters and funnel cake in the world, this love.
so that was my trip to new jersey.
5 months ago