I love how when I walk into a crowded room, I suddenly exist. Our colors blend together creating something new. We become part of the organism that exists only at that place at that time.
Yesterday Jules told me to stop dating that married doctor, but I hadn’t known he was married. I also hadn’t known he was a doctor. I’ve never seen him on my floor, but it would make sense how he could afford to pay for a hotel room for me so easily after learning that I was sleeping in my car. He never believed me when I told him that I liked sleeping in my car, curled up on my side with a blanket and the seat all the way back like someone was holding me cradled against their chest.
I’ve never much liked working twelve-hour shifts. I like it even less now that I have to spend my time bathing people, mopping up “accidents,” and arguing with addicts about their pain med schedule. I’m just thankful they hired Cathy as my assistant. Without her, I could never survive having eight patients.
I close my eyes, and the music washes over me. I don’t know what music this is, and I don’t care. Megan, Jules, and Brenda brought me here. They want to buy me drinks, but I don’t drink. They want me to dance, but I don’t dance. I just want to stand amidst the movement and watch people and live out a tiny piece of their lives through their motions and noises as the lights flash and the phones are held high in the signature recording stance. And my friends are okay with that because I’m their safe ride home.
This morning I asked the doctor if he was married, and he smiled at me sheepishly and said he was in the middle of a divorce. I knew what that meant. I deleted his contact.
Lunch today had a little buffet because Stanley brought chili, Brenda brought hot dogs, Jules brought potato salad, and I brought baked beans. We sat together eating for the first ten minutes in silence before Jeremy told a story of how the “old man” thought he could bandage one of the patients himself and used a handful of cotton balls with not even enough wrap to go around the patient’s stomach. Jeremy said it looked like a murder scene with blood squirting out every time the patient moved. We all laughed and shared stores of having the “old man’s” patients and how he was so nice but really needed to retire because his practices were almost as outdated as the days of Regan’s presidency. Megan showed up late with cupcakes for dessert.
The musician sounds like he has a trace of an accent. I examine his shadowed appearance and try to decide where he’s from and how old he must be. Megan is partially dancing with a dark-haired man and is telling him how she hates orthos because they don’t know about anything other than cutting open a knee and tying some ligaments back. She’s probably had too much because she only talks about work, and a lot of times it’s enough to make even the most desperate guys squeamish.
The head ortho at our hospital is named Wilkins. Today I shadowed him to take orders. He spoke to a new doctor who interrupted to ask if he should help me first because there was probably a lot that I needed to do. Wilkins laughed. He explained to the new doctor that we were a dime a dozen, a helpful ant army always available and where one falls another takes its place. So I didn’t have anywhere that I absolutely had to be. The new doctor stared at him stunned. He turned to me and smiled, explaining how nurses were like dornicks, little rocks used to prop doors open that you never notice or appreciate until there isn’t one around. So that’s why he always likes to keep nurses around.
I said nothing and walked away.
The guitar solo washes over the crowd smoothly, and everyone sways in the same direction. I too join this dance of new and different organism men and women and teachers and college students and lawyers and starving artists and bums and exhausted parents and dornicks.
(Photo: Alexander Popov)