she is young, maybe 23. but then, everyone is young these days. her standard “schpeal” is a bit bewildering. i see her mouth move, i hear words directed at me, but I don’t know if she is really there. “you can take your clothes off from the waist up. put on this gown (and you know it’s ugly) and tie the two blue ties over your right hip, then tie the two tan ties over your left hip. open the curtain when you are ready. (she doesn’t realize I could out wait her.) Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap. she is flicking the top of my right hand and telling me i have really great veins and that she does this all the time. my palms are wet. i show her the pooled sweat in my left hand as she makes her second attempt at the “great vein.” after her third attempt she declares my veins flat. i could have told her that. nothing to drink in 16 hours, so flat veins seemed reasonable to me. by now I am crying.
“you might have some pain or cramping. because your abdomen will be inflated, you might notice some gas. if you see any blood in your stool, get medical attention,” she says in her best, disengaged nurse voice.
an IV is finally hooked up. she wonders if i have any questions as she cleans up her mess. “are you aware that i am having an endoscopy today? do they inflate my abdomen for that?” she giggles as she leaves my curtained cubicle, saying, “oh, I do this all day long and i forget who is getting what done.”
i willed my eyes to stay open for the ten seconds before the propofol took me away. i wanted to be present, i wanted to feel. i surrendered easily into a lovely place of nothingness. the next thing i remember is the nurse in the next cubicle saying, “you can take all of your clothes off but your socks. put on this gown and tie the two blue ties over your right hip, then tie the two tan ties over your left hip. open the curtain when you are ready.”
tears flowed at the absurdity of it all.
standing on the edge of case inlet, on the puget sound, the sky is sparkling, there is a gentle breeze coming off the water, bringing with it a slight, salty smell of freshness. i can hear the silence. my bare feet are planted on the ground and i feel connected with the earth. something begins to rise up within me. fear? excitement? maybe this is it ~ maybe I will be able to breathe again.
led in meditation, i willed my eyes to stay open to take in the beauty surrounding me. i wanted to be present, i wanted to feel. i wanted it all, yet i was afraid, so alone, so uncertain about my own ability to go forward.
breathe in. breathe out. allow the process to do its work. make the decision to go forward, into the unknown. enter the struggle, yield to this. just this. trust yourself.
exposed throat, arms extended, heartspace lifted, wide open body leaning back. easy, deep inhales, like the tide I stand before, followed by sighs, deep exhales from my belly, i begin to sink. in opening, i list, not knowing she is there. she’s got my back. she does not touch me, hands in her sweatshirt pocket, but I sense her presence. i begin slowly to lean into her like an embrace, my head drops back onto her shoulder and i take in the words she whispers gently.
tears flowed with the ache of connection.
never wanted to go there. not one single thought about it. never, ever imagined in my wildest dreams that one day i would be in paris.
my senses, every single one of them is heightened as i travel alone, not understanding the language, the city, the sights, the sounds. i connect with a group of six women, in our own apartment, with my own bed, my own bathroom, my own space to process this adventure. i began to learn a new rhythm. an early morning walk down the street to pick up my fresh warm croissant to savor with vanilla bourbon yogurt and hot tea and milk. i learn to ride the metro with the group ~ more importantly by myself. i ride a bicycle through the countryside and spend a half day alone, wandering the dead in pere lachaise cemetery. i eat luscious food in fine restaurants and mouth-watering quiche at a sidewalk cafe and carry my own baguette and fromage to the foot of the tour eiffel.
i didn’t know then, that the reason paris beckoned me was wrapped up in an unexpected, unplanned visit to philharmonie de paris and a newly opened exhibit by marc chagall. in answering the call, a single moment transported and transformed me.
one step over the threshold, into space i can only describe as sacred, a place set apart. a small room held dozens of people, yet i was alone. there. the ceiling of the paris opera house. i look up, lean back, open my heart and will my eyes to stay open. wagner and debussy and tchaikovsky, stravinsky, bizet and verdi. each note plays out, is drawn out in invitation to surrender. surrender to the music. surrender to the art. allow the beauty, the movement, the sound, the emotion to take me into the explosive expression of color and creativity.
the real summons is to surrender. to be present to myself, fully and wholly and holy unto myself.
i slowly back up against the wall in awe, almost unable to breathe and slip slowly to the floor.
the tears flow.