“I’m sorry! We don’t have your spot tonight.”
I greeted the pretty young hostess with a puzzled look. “You remember me?”
“Of course! You come in alone…very soft spoken..you always ask to sit by the fireplace.”
A half smile graced my face for a moment. I had felt so anonymous in this dimly lit place with the good, life affirming food, minutes from the hospital here in town.
But someone had been noticing me. Like the nurse who asked why I never turn the tv on. And why I spend hours gazing out the window.
Aren’t you bored?
I find it interesting the things we notice about other people.
She showed me to a table as close to the fire as was available and I sat down, ordered the usual, and wrapped my hands around a cup of peppermint tea to wait.
I like to sit facing everyone else. The tables near the fireplace are elevated and I can sort of see their faces in the dark and catch bits of their conversations.
I close my eyes for a moment. I grin. I bite my lip to contain my excitement.
Haha! Again. I’ve done it again. Danced out of the grip of death. It’s almost funny to me at this point.
When will you get the hint? You can’t have me yet! Our time will come, but please, I ask, be patient.
Every connection you make while wearing a hospital gown is ripe with meaning.
The elderly vietnamese nurse who asked “Only broth and juice?”. I smiled.
“Don’t want to get too…” I patted my tummy. We laughed and she did a little jig.
The custodial woman from Fiji who always greeted me shyly. I could tell she wanted to talk to me about something.
When I ditched the hospital gown, gently made up my face and walked confidently, slowly down the hall, that same hall, yet again, her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
“You don’t look sick!”
Yes. I am good at that.
“Ah, they got tired of me. Said I could go home.”
I smiled. She grabbed my hand and held it for a moment.
“You remind me of my daughter back home”.
I am no one’s daughter, I think.
We smile at each other for a few more moments and then I step into the elevator.
It is raining outside. This excites me. Any intrusion of inescapable nature in the city excites me.
I turn my face to the sky. And think about how awesome that fireplace will feel.