All of the dentists I have been to have had operating rooms that looked out on scenery. Dental pain is one of the worst things ever, and somewhere behind "dental pain" is the anxiety of the dental bills. I am on my back with a machine to my side that is a machine designed specifically for endodontics that cost more than my graduate school education. That and the fact that the room is perfectly decorated and looks out on a sylvan creek explain a little bit of why this procedure is so expensive. But I don't care, I am on the Enterprise, looking out my viewport while smoothly curved machinery whirrs around me. I am also on tramadol.
But that was a different room, a week ago. This week, I am in a different room, an open air picnic shelter in Medford, Oregon. I slept on the Greyhound Bus, and got in at 6 AM and have to wait until 3 PM for another bus. This is complicated, and looking back I can't remember which trip was which, which suicide I was mourning, which illness I had, which drug I was taking for it, and what type of misbehavior was going on in the Medford Greyhound station. The Medford Greyhound station is not the type of place to have stereotypes about Medford or Greyhound undone. I do remember that day in March, because along with all of the grittiness of Medford there was a beautiful wash of cherry blossoms along everything. There was also a mist that saturated everything. I had come to this picnic shelter after walking up and down the streets of Medford on a Saturday when everything was closed. I had plugged in my iPhone and laptop to get recharged, and started playing The Legend of Zelda, dodging in and out of the chambers of the second quest, getting zapped back to my starting point by tricky stair cases. While doing this, a homeless family came and sat at one of the other tables, waiting through the afternoon for another shelter to open up. There was a young boy who took out what must have been three dozen Matchbook cars an laid them on the picnic table while I waited in the rain for my devices to recharge. I probably looked more homeless than them: earlier in the day, after getting lost in the rain and hurrying to a bathroom, I had not undone my pants quickly enough and had gotten urine on myself. I had changed, but I was worried that I probably smelt bad, in some way. It didn't bother me, though, because I was still taking tramadol.
Eight months later, at the end of November instead of the end of March, I wonder if I should think about you. While I was in that dentists office, hoping that his fingers wouldn't slip, sending me into unendurable agony, what room were you in? And while I was in the open picnic shelter, feeling the wetness soak into my socks, what room were you in? When I in the depot, waiting for time to do what it was supposed to do, and move forward, what room were you in? I remember you hands stretched out, touching post sides of a cute little post office in Montana, and I wonder if you are in some nice cozy room right now. Or, are you, like me, in all the wrong rooms? But then I remember that there isn't a "you" anymore. I can't imagine that you are running down some parallel track to me, and some day we will finally meet, and commiserate over all the shared experiences we have had, how our lives had been some type of slapstick of parallel misadventures that we could finally put in perspective. Because as much as I would like to believe there was some narrative counterpoint to my travails, the truth is all those ugly tile floors I stared at hoping the clock's hands would have moved forward when I looked upwards were nothing more than what they seemed to be, and that all that suffering and anxiety are something I would have to carry alone.