I've become convinced that the universe is conspiring to deliver me a few messages. Specifically, three:
1. I shouldn't leave my house. Should I decide to leave for reasons other than work, work will somehow weave its way into my daily existence (see #s 2 & 3). Something wants me to stay home as much as possible, and it's even making my body sick in order to tell me so, forcing me to lie in bed and take care of myself, something I am loathe to do, only because Taking Care of Myself takes work, and I'd rather be out having FUN! with friends and loved ones and FUN! with my daughter, for whom summer has passed far too quickly with far too few FUN! events with her mother.
2. I need to take care of myself. Last Friday night, I had more drinks than I'm willing to admit (ahem, six), of more variety than I should account for (ahem, three: beer, wine, liquor - YEAH! WOO! WAY TO GO! What am I, 19??!!). I only share this as a lesson to the rest of you: people in their 30s and over should not imbibe in this manner, lest our bodies remind us in the most direct, painful, and stupefying way that we are officially Too Old For This Shit. Namely, we come down with a mysterious viral illness a few days later, which culminates in a fever that lasts two and a half days, manifesting itself in excruciating bone aches so bad that we lie in our bathtubs at 3:30 a.m. (ibuprofen? HA!), literally crying from the pain and the wish to fall asleep, which then leads to a mounting overall negativity that has us convinced that a) our lives in general just suck and being in pain sucks, b) no one cares, and, c) our best friends have moved on with their lives and no longer want to hang out with us, and, d) our boyfriend is secretly plotting a midlife crisis that involves lots of hot chicks, fast cars, and bachelor pads loaded with free porn because we're all sickly and gross and pathetic and really, we don't want to be around ourselves, either, so why should he. This forced self-imprisonment for two consecutive nights then leads into a progressive feeling-betterness, making us think we're all better, which leads to having a glass of wine after work - JUST ONE FREAKING GLASS OF WINE, CAN I HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE, PLEASE - which goes down fine (except for the random person who walks up and says, "Hey! Can I ask you a question? Am I bleeding?" and they are, and half of you wants some gauze and the other half just wants to tell him to look in a fucking mirror and take care of it himself) and the wine feels just fantastic until the next morning, when we are struck completely off-guard and suddenly by painful stabbing sensations in our intestines, forcing us to - yet again - remain at home, confined in our beds, until it's time to go to work again...
3. I was born to be a nurse.
We go to work, just for a few hours as a favor to a friend, which goes just fine, and then our boyfriend comes over (and how long am I going to continue this collective second-person shit? I dunno. Wishful thinking that I'm not alone in these [self]observations, I guess), with whom we have dinner at home and then decide to get out of the house for a bit. We decide upon walking (healthy! fresh air! exercise! enjoying the nightly-ness and all its nightly wonder!), and as soon as we turn the corner onto the main drag, our boyfriend suddenly says, "Guess you're nursing tonight!"
Twenty feet ahead of us lies the body of a man, lying on the strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk, his head on the sidewalk and feet in the street, over whom is haunched another man (whom we later find out is a friend of said body). The Friend is holding The Body's head in his hands. The Body is not moving. We quicken our pace, mutter, "oh, fuck," to our boyfriend, and hurry to said scene.
The Body isn't moving. The Friend says, "It's alright."
Did he hit his head?
Sir? Hey! Hey, buddy! Can you hear me? (no response) He lost consciousness?
How long ago? (He's breathing. Pulse is there. Carefully looking for blood and feeling The Body's head for possible fractures)
Just a few minutes. It's cool. We were drinking.
He fell on his head and lost consciousness. It's not cool. He might have a problem. Hey! Hey, you! (The Body's eyes flutter) Hey!
Hi! I'm Stephanie. I'm a nurse. Do you know where you are?
Hey! Look at me! (The Body's eyes flutter open and shut again)
Do you know where you are?
Do you know what happened?
Look at me! (The Body's eyes open, wider this time. They're wandering independently of each other)
He's cool. It's alright. He just fell.
Hey! You fell. Can you look at me? (The Eyes open momentarily again, widening in the light. Pupils equal... I think... eyes still rolling...) You need to call an ambulance. Chances are, he's fine, but he could have a bleed. Do you have a phone? (The boyfriend says "here" and hands you the phone, smiling at the irony of it all)
He doesn't need an ambulance. It'll be fine. He lives, like, a half a block away.
That's great, and if he's fine, the paramedics will make sure he gets home. But he needs to be checked out. He should have a CT, just in case.
Hi! I'm Stephanie. Do you know where you are?
Hunnh? Uhhhhhhh.... nnnnnnno.
Dude! We're outside _____. We just left a little while ago and you fell. Don't you remember?
Nnnnnnnno. (Eyes rolling independently of each other, then closing again)
Okay, I'm calling an ambulance.
We call 911, and MFD shows up within two minutes (love them) in an engine. The lights stir The Man who's lying on the ground.
You're ride's here.
You're probably cool, but if you're not, they'll take you to the ER.
Iiiii thhhink there mmmmight be a problemmmmm.
Which is why they're gonna check you out.
We give report to MFD. A squad car pulls around the corner.
Do you need anything else from me?
Nah, we got it.
We continue our path down the street, holding hands. He tucks his cell phone back into his pocket, making sure the sound is on, just in case anyone from EMS calls wanting more information.
Told ya you were working tonight.
I didn't know what you were talking about! I didn't see him at first.
Ya know, you could have just kept walking.
The universe doesn't want me to leave my house. Every time I do, someone with a bleeding face shows up, or there's a body lying in the street. It's like, if I'm gonna leave, then I have to *work* to earn it. Do I have a fucking 'NURSE' sign flashing over my head? Last week: enemas. This week: random emergencies, everywhere I go. What the fuck.
You don't have to stop.
No, I don't. But then we'd spend the next two hours talking about, 'I wonder what happened to that guy,' and, 'I should have stopped,' and, 'fuck, I hope he doesn't have a subdural.'
So he squeezes my hand and smiles. And I realize that, a boyfriend or two ago, this would have been a much different scenario, filled with anxiety and fuckedupness. But here we are, walking down the street, hand in hand, and The Man is being taken care of, and the boyfriend and I are once again just another random Milwaukee couple, walking down the street, enjoying the night air and conversation. I feel good, and in spite of the interruption, I think he feels good being with me. Maybe even proud.
You're a dork, he says.
And that makes me smile again.