Saturday, November 25, 2006

You're beautiful; you're beautiful....

I need to know if anybody else does this:

When I go to a restaurant, which I do fairly often, being possessed of both plenty of folding money and a boyfriend who's sick of cooking, I look at the other patrons.

When I go to the bar, my usual hangout, for a burger and a bump and a beer, I stare at the bartenders, male and female.

When I wander down the street near one of the local colleges, I gaze at the students. Obsessively.

Because they are, all of them, beautiful. No matter what might lurk within their bodies (a brain tumor, a broken bone, a deep vein clot just waiting to cause pain), they're *whole*. They're beautiful because they're whole.

They don't even have to be young. The eighty-year-old men helping their wives pick out groceries strike me as being as gorgeous as the twenty-year-old waitress at the pizza joint downtown. Because they're all whole.

One of the biggest current joys of my life is working out, simply because I *can*. I know I have a left side and a right side; I know which side is stronger (left, strangely; Mom, did you retrain me as a child?). I can lift heavy things and run on a treadmill without collapsing. I can do this.

Back in the day, during nursing school, I kept a journal during the psych ward part of our training. It wasn't by choice; it was assigned, and woe be to the poor instructor who had to read it. In that journal, I talked about my fear of being taken for an inmate of the hospital we went to. The only thing that separated *me* from *them* was the key that I had, that I could easily lose or have taken from me.

There's a different "me" and "them" in the hospital world. For now, I'm still in the camp of the whole. But I'm in contact with the un-whole, the grieving, those who've lost a part or a half of their bodies, enough that I'm reminded that it's a very small difference.

So. If you see me staring at you, it's not your beautiful forearms or your curly hair that's causing it. It might be, instead, the way you put your hand on the small of your wife's back, the way you have since 1946, even though she's now in a walker. It might be the way you use every finger to pour a drink, with the cork of the bottle between a ring finger and little finger you're still aware you have. It could be the way you break into a run to cross the street in front of my car, without even thinking of what you have to do to accomplish that.

If I had it in me, I would break in to Whiny English Singer-Songwriter mode and compose a little tune.

Be thankful that I don't, eh?

7 comments:

Elliott said...

Bravo!

DisappearingJohn said...

Actually, I do, to a point. I also look at others, and am greatful that I, too, am, for the most part, whole. The worst one I have seen is the ALS patient. Had perfect brain function, sharp as a tack; just couldn't communicate, or move 75% of their body... I can't imagine being perfectly cognizant, lying in bed drooling and unable to function... It would be the worst kind fo torture...

mama o' the matrices said...

It's a frighteningly thin divide, no? I remember when the Eldest was diagnosed with hemophilia, and we could finally tell our (friendly) roommates what we were doing in the hospital.

Turned out their child was terminal with liver cancer, and they'd already lost one child to this particular cancer.

One bodily quirk versus another - it's a very thin line.

Jill said...

Lovely post, Jo.

shrimplate said...

My guess is that you are right-handed. The left is stronger because it does the weight-bearing/holding tasks while the more nimble right does the fine-motor stuff.

As explained to a patient by a physical therapist while I eavesdropped.

yr sis said...

You and I both were born left-handed, and we both were retrained.

JustCallMeJo said...

I love that post...thanks...
/jo (also)