The Emperor says: Place matters. You are never not in a place and you should probably always do something about it.
I had no intention of sleeping during the night I stayed in the hospital and that is exactly how it went down. The procedure took a few hours and then I got moved to a shared room, shared with a woman who kept crying out, like all night long, for help. I don’t think she understood that I was just another patient on the other side of the curtain. But there was no real way to convey that so I just rolled with it and pushed my own call button every time she hollered. “She’s asking for someone to turn her.” “She’s asking for someone to clean her up.”
The nurses were apologetic but it was really no problem. I was awake, I was not going to miss a minute of this. On my shoulders I had this hot-pad of weighted beads, keeping air from getting trapped up in there, or at least mentally that’s what I pictured and boom as a result there was none of the referred shoulder pain I’d heard about. On my calves were these wrap-around gauntlet things, pulsing all night long with air up and down, maybe to keep blood clots from forming or maybe just to entertain me. Either way they worked. They were spectacular. It was not a night to be missed.
Honestly I love medical attention. There is nothing better than having your vitals checked every two hours, like, every two hours being reminded that on a basic human level you are vital. Plus the feeling of being helpful to a roommate, not that she knew that that’s what was happening.
In the morning I detached the leg things and walked over to the shared sink and put on some eyeliner because it does indeed make a difference, for me, in making the new day official. Roommate could see me and was like, please change the channel? This was a challenge but I found the remote and the classic cartoon station she wanted and then I went back to my bed. We were both in a place where you’re supposed to get taken care of and I was part of that place for her and it all worked out fine.
The Emperor says location matters and if you find yourself called to be part of making a place a capital-P Place, do it. Do this whether it makes sense or not. Use your hands and just use everything to make the place what you need it to be and also what the other person needs. At times you find yourself sharing a tiny room with some other person who literally cannot figure out what’s behind the curtain.
Update on Abby: At this point, as I’m writing this, she has begun her new job. She fills the reception area of a waiting room where people arrive nervous and hopeful and either ready or not-at-all ready to have needles stuck in them by a licensed acupuncturist. The license doesn’t matter if you’re scared. Abby’s way of saying “hello, welcome” fills up the room and makes everybody, like everybody, feel like it’s going to be so very ok. What she drew, above, the drawing I decided was The Emperor, is how she fills the space. Like the easiest and most elegant thing, but big enough to bleed off the page, out through the lobby, hopefully trailing out a little bit with you when you leave. It’s how to do it.