"Join me," the light says. "Come outside and play."
"You can turn the lights back on Saiph," Dr. T, the head surgeon, says, waking me up from my trance. They are going to close the incision now.
I double check my monitor to make sure my patient is still coasting along before stepping away. I flip the OR lights back on and walk around the room to the window blinds, which I flip open again. The light roars into the OR.
"I want you," I think fiercely at the light, before silently turning back towards my patient.
Two hours later, I have recovered my patient from anesthesia (this involves staying with him until he fully wakes up, is swallowing on his own, is extubated, and is resting comfortably), filled his medications to go home later in the afternoon, updated his treatment sheet and his invoice, and typed up his discharge instructions. There are no more surgeries scheduled for the day and it is only 2:30 pm.
"Who wants to go home early?" my supervisor asks.
It's up for grabs today. It has been slow in the veterinary hospital this week. It is slow everywhere. We all need the hours, but I'm on call...and also 78 degrees in February.
"I'll go," I say. Everyone else sighs in relief.
I round one of our treatment techs on the plan for the Great Dane for later in the day, clock out, grab my stuff and take off. I blast the radio and drive back to Maryland with the windows down, letting the warm air thread through my hair.
Home. I quickly change into a tank top and capri pants, grab ID and a bottle of water with BCAAs (I am absolutely LOVING these; the hype is 100% true) and fly back out the door to hop in my car. I am having one of those days where literally every person I think of, instantly texts me. I'm sort of on a roll today; I'm not sure if I'm invoking them or if I'm feeling them thinking of me across the distance right before they text. (This is Fairly Normal in my world.) Hence why, when I have a moment of trepidation as I sit in the car, I wonder if the fear is warranted or if I'm just being paranoid. I pick up the phone to text Carlos at work to let him know where I'm going, and the phone vibrates in my hand as his text comes through first. Told you. We text back and forth and I let him know. I decide the trepidation is paranoia and zoom off for my favorite park in downtown.
The park is FULL. EVERYONE is out and about taking advantage of the warm weather. I'm still able to find a primo parking spot. I start my SoundCloud playlist that is only reserved for running, and take off.
The first song on my playlist. It's another long-time favorite.
Lady, running down to the riptide
Taken away to the dark side
I want to be your left hand, man
Towards the water, as always.
I love the new boardwalk. Carlos and I watched its construction over the course of the last year and now I get to run on it. My feet are tired from standing for the entire 4-hour anesthesia and my legs are still sore from Leg Day two days ago. But I start out slow and it isn't long before the lactic acid is flushed out of my muscles.
I run past a Central American family taking photos of their children near the boardwalk. I run past a couple sitting on a bench: a woman with purple hair resting her head on the shoulder of her partner, who is wearing a pretty red sundress and sandals, in tune with the warm day. They are laughing as they talk. The sight makes my heart sing.
So many people with babies in strollers. So many people with their dogs. I skirt around them all with a smile.
Missy Elliott's Get Your Freak On plays on my phone.
I run past the clocktower. There are kids playing kickball in the park green, and twenty-somethings in shorts sitting on hammocks strung between the trees around the tower. Their feet are bare, shoes strewn on the grass that is unseasonably green. I grin, remembering my college days back on the island, in the university that is now dying thanks to budget cuts that would force it to close. It is the oldest university on the island, founded in 1903. Its 11 campuses are part of the 58 colleges and universities on our tiny 3,515 square-mile land. (To compare, Nevada is 110,572 square miles and has 26 colleges and universities.)
A tall lanky guy with fuschia hair walks past, his Golden and his Lab trotting along next to him. The Lab looks up at me as I run past.
An elderly Asian man accompanies his grandchildren as they fish from the dam. An interracial couple walk shoulder to shoulder and look at one another in adoration as they talk to one another. Both men burst into laughter.
I approach a street crossing. Incoming cars stop to let me pass. I wave thank you and continue on.
A police officer on a Segway is saying hello to a woman at the little Mexican restaurant in town and she smiles back at him. As I pass the restaurant windows, I realize I'm not jogging anymore, I'm full-on running, and I have been full-on running for the past 5 minutes. I'm surprised at my reflection in the window because I have a huge involuntary grin plastered on my face.
I run past a trio of teenagers, all different shades of chocolate. The two girls turn and grin at me, "Run, run!" they say. I burst out laughing as I fly between them.
I run past the art school and the painted bridge, still flying.
|This is painted. All of it: the wrought-iron door AND the stones in the wall.|
|That bust is painted too. See the mallard duck by the column? Also painted. :)|
Jacob Forever's Sueltame la Mia makes me run even faster.
I run back towards the park, following the creek. I slow down to a walk when my heart rate escalates past 160 bpm. I'm out of breath. Endomondo calls out that I've completed my second mile in 10 minutes flat, which is pretty amazing.
There is one person that has been on my mind on this day, and he is the only one I haven't heard from. He is an old friend who was a mentor in what feels like another lifetime ago. He is a real immigrant that holds dual citizenship, and he used to post with regularity on social media, but I haven't seen anything from him in a while, even when I've actively searched for his posts. He is not the type to communicate first, and on an impulsive whim, I grab my phone and text him, "How are you? I don't know why I was thinking about you today, but I was. I hope all is well with you. *sunshine emoji*" I hit "Send," put my phone back in its sleeve on my arm, and picked up a run again.
A man pedals past me on his bike. I slow down to a jog to watch him go by...and then realize that he has a basket on the back of his bicycle and it contains four Pomeranians! All four dogs are happy as clams, chilling out while their owner takes them for a ride. Literally.
|The man with the Pomeranians on the back of his bike.|
The light dances off of the water of the creek, dazzling, chasing away the nightmares and the darkness, allowing me to live in a present where there is no fear.
As I run past my tree, I realize that sitting at its feet are an olive-skinned woman wearing a hijab, a white woman with blonde hair, and a third woman and her child, both with chocolate-colored skin. You can see their silhouettes in the photo above. They are surrounding a Bernese Mountain Dog and are all laughing, talking and petting him. I can't tell who he belongs to, only that this group of people are interacting as equals and making friends, over this one dog that is bringing them together. I want to take a picture of them in close-up but it seems weird to take photos of people I don't know personally. Hence why there are photos of none of these moments I see, and thus why I have to write about them. Because I want to remember.
I run past the gazebos in the park where families are hanging out like they would on a weekend summer afternoon, some of them even cooking up some BBQ: Hispanic, African American, white, Muslim, mutts of all kinds, some of them in their own separate little groups but so many of them interacting with one another. It seems cliche but this is what you expect in the suburbs of D.C.: an amalgam of cultures, religions, and languages, all beautiful, all equally accepted, where everyone can see past the physical appearances and simply witness another human being. It's what you want to believe this country is in its entirety, after studying its history. To me, this is the real American dream: a place full of people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, coexisting happily despite their differences. Our tiny town is a living representation of what we think the world should be, and it is the number one reason why Carlos and I love it so fiercely and why we are so proud of calling ourselves a part of the community.
After everyone hiding for at least half of the winter, it is so good to see all our Frederick residents out and about like it is any other day, and to be reminded that our town remains unchanged. For now, at least.
I finally slow to a walk and use the last quarter mile to the car to cool down. I have completed 3 miles in 35 minutes: not too shabby for my first run in warmth with moderate humidity.
I don't want to go home, but I remember I forgot to have a snack before my run and my blood sugar is dropping rapidly. I need to eat something. But first, I must check on the girls.
I swing by the barn. They are out in their field alone munching on hay from the mangers, the other horses (who are on stall board) already in for the night. I walk into the field to look them over, running my hands over bodies and legs to make sure everything is okay, and both of them snuggle me at the same time. I kiss their fuzzy foreheads, think again that I really do need to take the time to clip Gracie, and rush back to our apartment to EAT FOOD.
I'm still grinning as I defrost tilapia and put it in the oven. I'm cutting up ingredients for a salad when my phone buzzes.
My former mentor texted me back. It makes me unexplainably, giddily happy, and we text back and forth for a bit, talking about normal mundane things like the weather and work and dogs.
I eat dinner alone at home (Carlos won't be out of work until 11:00 pm) and type up this post because I don't want to forget any of it.
Thank you guys for the comments on my previous post. I have cherished every one.
I love you all.