Sunday, February 8, 2009


I’ve never been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, none of the fabled lands of the casino, gambling, lights. But I have ideas… I imagine great sweeping expanses of noise and machines and tables and comfortable footwear and no windows, no clocks. I imagine casinos are where time stands still.

Hospitals are like this. You enter the doors under duress, altered, attired in whatever you were wearing when things got too bad to stay home any longer. When you are admitted, an interesting word in and of itself, you commit to being a member of the ecosystem, microcosm, parallel universe that is the hospital.

There is no outside air. Vents whir and dispense their own weather. It always feels the same. There may be windows but you soon realize they are an illusion. These are covered in darkness, shrouded to protect the ill. Through them you will get no sense of what is happening outside. Or if you do it only serves as a stark reminder that there is a world functioning out there that you are separated from, held apart behind glass.

The clocks mean nothing. Hours pass as if minutes or days. It changes. Time itself is changeable and unpredictable. You catch yourself at moments standing in a tunnel. You can see the beginning and the end but are never sure where you are in between. All the numbers of minutes and hours start to blend anyway.

You are surrounded by numbers: temperature, blood pressure, dosage, weight. They tumble out of drawers, fall off walls, pour around corners, leap from pages and mouths and forms you are meant to sign. They clutter your mind and disorient you.

You, in your not right clothes, in your not right mind, in this not right place. It is easy to go dead behind the eyes. To let go. To gamble at these tables without any remembrance of your life on the outside. That world seems so far away now. Dramas happen every minute in here. Dramas we hope never to play any part in. There are miracles too and children. Lovely beautiful funny dopey silly children who still run and laugh and cry and scream in equal order. They seem to be the only ones who can maintain themselves; their childness.

Adults are crushed under the weight of this other world. Without our privacy, our things, our rules, our control we spin like insects missing wings, broken, unmoored. So we have to look to children, seek out their eyes. In them we see an antidote to the pressure. We see maps to lightness, the absence of fear.

Children are so rarely in control of their lives they thrive in these environments, they know to become like liquid in these worlds. They find all the cracks in the façade and one way or another they break through.


Jen said...

Before I had a child who had open-heart surgery, I never gave much thought to hospitals as I drove past them. Now, every time I see one, I think about what's going on inside: the death and the life and the rumpled clothes and the beeping and the numbers and all of the dramas, large and small, that are happening right that very minute. Right then, just yards away, as I drive down the road in the sunlight; the same sunlight that will never shine inside that hospital. You described it perfectly.

invisiblecities said...

Thank you so much Jen. It's wonderful to remember that there are people out there who have not forgotten us you know? I do the same and if I ever see anyone looking out those windows, I always always wave.