A week in photos
May 14, 2017
Posted in View from the table
Notes from the hospital waiting room I hung out in this week:
The young woman with so, so many tattoos who’s sitting adjacent to us, she’s literally covered in ink, from her neck to her finger tips, I can’t see anymore than that. It looks harsh until you look closer; words of love and hope and faith in swirling, curling script. Angels and hearts and wings. Flowers, leaves and stars. Totems of love and optimism, or maybe just escapism, I get her for both. She has an ECG heart beat tattooed onto her forearm, and I wonder who’s beating heart she’s carrying around with her, who she sees every time she looks at her own limb?
A mother and grown up daughter, so similar in looks they both look sort of ageless, so close. The mum is funny and warm, talking to people around her, reassuring her girl, I like her. I feel like I know her but I think that’s probably because I’ve been facing her for four hours.
Into the stuffy room charges a prison guard cuffed to an inmate who’s about a foot taller than he. He’s wearing a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants. There’s a female guard too, she’s got the sides of her head shaved and a really lovely smile. The prisoner has beautiful clear brown eyes and he looks so vulnerable, I don’t know what he’s done, I don’t want to know. I count the thick scars on his right arm. Nine. Perfect almost, neat, evenly spaced. Self-inflicted with precision and what could be construed as care. Perhaps. He makes me feel sad. Actually, he makes me cry and I have to go to the loo. I’m not ashamed to say that. I start to imagine how you end up restrained in a hospital waiting room, what path he followed and decisions he made, or had made for him, to end up there, so humiliated. He has a bandage on his other wrist, that’s why he’s here in this waiting room. The guards are kind, nice. Human. She loosens his cuff when she sees that his wrist has swollen and the metal is too tight. The other guard produces biscuits from his pocket.
A woman’s legs wearing jeans covered in Minnie and Mickey Mouse patches walks past me, I only see her legs because I’ve got my head on my sister’s lap. Minnie Mouse legs speaks another language. Polish? Maybe Romanian? I’m not sure, but she looks too serious for Disney denim. Still, I guess none of us are here for shits and giggles.
My sister and I play games, we’ve been sitting there for so long – the next person who walks through this door is the one you’ll spend the rest of your life with… The next person that walks past us is the person you lost your virginity to… It’s really very, very funny. We give them names and make up stories about our fictitious lives with them, her run- wild imagination has always been a match to mine. We eat satsumas and cherries and I realise that the big sister/little sister dynamic has been reversed. She’s looking after me. We pass this responsibility between us as needs must. I hope I’ve been, and will be, as great as she is, because she is, she’s really great.
And we wait and we wait and we wait and I resist the urge to feel scared and sorry for myself and instead focus on the grown woman rocking out on her own, blissfully, eyes closed to The Wheels on the Bus and the Okey Cokey that she’s playing really loud on her phone. Everyone around her desperately trying not to look 100% freaked out. There’s no child with her. And I feel OK. I think that the music on my own phone is beautiful and brilliant, it’s not the Okey Cokey and my arms aren’t striped with scars of my own doing, I’m not under lock and key and I’m not going ‘home’ to a prison I’m going home to my beautiful house. And I think about my girls and my family and my friends and the round the kitchen table plans and dreams that this week have moved forward like a runaway train, leaping off the page and table into real life. I’m excited, nervous too. But what’s the worst that can happen? Failure I can live with, regret I can’t.
My sister’s stroking my hair and I just know it’s alright. Apparently it’s just a matter of putting your left leg in, doing the okey cokey a bit and turning around. Yep, I think that’s the trick. That’s what it’s all about.