It’s embarrassing, really.
The day was unlike others; unless you’re someone who gets a mammogram daily. I’m not. I was between procedures (I’m clear, it was all routine) and I had some time to kill.
The weather was clear and sunny and warm.
I was in my monster mobile and parked outside a local “Gas N Shop,” or “Petro N Go,” or “Fill N Leave,”… you know, the kind of place that sells gas, offers a car wash, bathrooms, rolling papers and Snickers bars.
I was determined to not to go in and sit in the warm, stuffy waiting room for what could be upwards of 15 minutes. The waiting rooms at mammography centers are high intensity; no one wants to go in there to prepare to stand on their tippy toes as they look away as Miriam did in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” during the scene when she and Indy are strapped to the pole while the foolish Nazis dare open the Ark of the Covenant after performing an ad hoc Hebrew ceremony (am I digressing?)… anyway, as Miriam (who listened to Indy because if she didn’t she would’ve melted as the Nazis did), you don’t want to look at your girl when it’s in this device which compresses her from a shape resembling a balloon to a pancake.
During said compression, we are reminded to hold our breath (which is already gasped) as the sing-songy operator who looks like “Pat” from Saturday Night Live (I’m dating myself) scurries to hide behind a glass wall while a half-million-dollar machine hums and clicks and releases. If you don’t get it right that time, you get to do it again. Never mind the fact that this would be considered a misdemeanor in several states were it not a medical procedure…
So instead of waiting with the other potential smashees, I chose to hide. I’m glad I did for I witnessed joy instead of anxiety; expression rather than suppression; and elation instead of deflation. Going in for a mammogram requires a certain suspension of disbelief anyway, because no sane person would want this to happen to her. So, following this thread of make believe, I pretended I was an NPR reporter. That’s totally normal, right?
I haven’t listened to my recording since that day because I think I hate my voice and also because I’m not used to recording myself. My mother, however, would have LOVED to have done this, so in my own little subconscious way, I’m loosening up a little to let more of her in. Please click on the link immediately below:
I made this recording about two weeks after Mom died and I was in a place where I needed to see the silver linings of life and to remember that life not only goes on, but that it can and does quite beautifully, thank you, with or without us in attendance.
I was talking to my friend about this experience the other day and she told me that there is no such thing as fresh drinking water on Fiji… that they get bottled water too. I wonder if it’s $3.85 a bottle there. Probably more because they need to ship it from … uh … Michigan or somewhere.
I am a firm believer that it’s up to us to see the beauty in an every day existence. I have yet to be like Wayne Dyer and say “Thank you!” before I get out of bed, but I come pretty close. I say it on the walk to school, or as I pour my coffee or as I’m having my breast compressed or as I’m watching an adorable family vacuum its car.
The little boy was “totes adorbs” to quote a friend from Buffalo, NY. His shiny black hair was cropped close, with bangs that hugged his face and curled up about an inch above his eyebrows. The dad was wearing a Reál Madrid soccer jersey and had close-cropped hair and a ready smile for his son while he was doing what dads do: playing while Mom was working. He laughed and did his best to look busy, but that little kid was just too much fun. The mom was fierce-looking; she had a classic South American face with high cheek bones and full lips. Her skin was a gorgeous bronze that set this pasty white Irish girl’s jealousy in gear. But I didn’t envy her the age of her son (been there, done that) nor the “compliance” of her husband while she’s just trying to clean out her car. Sometimes these chores are better performed alone.
Their dark teal Toyota Corolla sedan was in good condition. It looked to be the same vintage of one that belonged to a gal I met at the yoga retreat this summer. She said hers was 17 years old with close to 380,000 miles on it. To my friend, it was her ride to a Springsteen concert or to class or to the Jersey Shore and to work as an educator. But to this Mom, who looked to be no more than 21, that car was her chariot, her way to work, her son’s way to school or day care and her husband’s privilege: it had pink and lavender stickers on the back, like little wings, on either side of the trunk’s keyhole. This was a woman’s car.
I remember hearing the music before I saw the family and thought that surely it was playing for the benefit of a silver-haired couple from Mexico or Latin America. To me, there was no way that a young person would enjoy that music; there was no subwoofer bleeding or swearing pouring out the windows. How nice it was to be so completely incorrect.
I felt lucky and, oddly, not a hint of self-consciousness recording that “report”; I suppose it’s not weird these days to see someone sitting alone in a car holding a phone up to her face with her window cracked open. People do it all the time… Beats trying to do it while driving.
I enjoyed pretending I was an NPR reporter; I am glad to be sharing it with you.
p.s. i feel this post was rusty. i have to say that it’s weird for me to be writing about something happy again that doesn’t focus on my sadness about my Mom. it was nice. “The show must go on!” she’d say.