This door, its metal shines like the sun and it holds a strange power over me. I am afraid of it, but know I need to enter. This past Saturday night, despite my fear, I accompanied my mother to the hospital. The white tile and the smells of old age, sagging skin, and hope hit me in one gradual successive motion. In one corner, an elderly women sat with her husband, her nose bleeding,while he handed tissues to her like an assembly line worker. In another part of the room, a woman, with brown hair and eyeglasses that seem too large for her face, smiled at me, while she held the hand of her son. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me why he was in the hospital. His bald head revealed his truth. We sat toward the back of the room, waiting to be ushered into a room, equipped with technology and hope. One sentence and four and half hours later, we were discharged.
When you are shoved out of your ordinary routine, you realize how valuable it is to engage in wholly mundane moments like when you are grocery shopping, picking up your kids from school, or paying bills. Spending time at a hospital for any period of time is my quick reminder not to only participate in routine, but to engage and honor what appears to be so disposable.
And I got another reminder of cherishing the ordinary, in the form of another door, this time it was a door I tried to exit but couldn’t. My blue car was parked at a red light, my foot anticipating green as it braced the accelerator. In what seemed like a millisecond moment, a white truck barrelled into my car,my hood curving in like a burritto. A giant thud and I felt my body doing the wave, involuntarily, as my back slammed against my car seat. I froze, not knowing what happened or how to react. My immediate instinct prompted me to reach for the door, but it was stuck, the impact of the hit, paralyzed the hinges where it opened. I was stuck, not able to exit, the door becoming my burden.
For a single minute, the chaos of the last 16 hours overwhelmed me. My eyes glazed over trying to pry open my car door, the click click of pulling the handle rung in my ears. In the periphery, people passed by, honked, gave me dirty looks, even though my car looked like a piece of abstract art in the middle of the road. One woman, her mini-van christened with kids, stopped, asked me how I was doing and called the police. With the help of a police officer, my door opened, the metal mangled, but intact.
My feet grazed a final metal door this weekend, the smell of a stale sandwich, grease and a water cooler filled the air of the tow truck.The gentleman offered to tow my car home, while I accompanied him in the truck. He talked about his days in the army, how he had two children and eight grandchildren, and how his wife was born and raised in Arizona.
While he talked, I nodded, bearing witness to his ordinary moments, as I stared at my reflection on the truck door. I stepped off the truck as we approached my house, knowing that it isn’t the entries and the exits that are significant, but it is what is sandwiched in between, the moments leading up to stepping in and out of all of those doors.
Image by iMorpheus