I arrived on Thursday afternoon as planned, carrying the same bags I always carried, into the same room they put me in whenever it's available, 8D. It's at the end of the row of four more-or-less identical rooms on the wing, and is wonderful at this time of year because it alone of the four gets late afternoon sunlight streaming in. It also tends to be the quietest, being furthest from the common kitchen/dining room. Really, just like home. In fact, now, it is home.
The NW view from my verandah, out across the valley.
The thing that feels most different now is my sense of comparative self when I consider my neighbours, of whom there are currently two, both women. I'd not really consciously noticed it before, but previously I'd tend to assume that my neighbours would more likely than not be leaving - permanently, that is - before I did, as I expected to return home as my next thing. Now I have no such assumption whatsoever. At one point yesterday afternoon, as I lay half-dozing and half-listening to another round of Loud Talking Family Continually Trying Very Hard To Quieten Down The Kids From Squalling, Really, Sorry, We're Trying, I was suddenly seized by a maddeningly itchy curiosity to know my neighbours' prognoses.
I know, horrible, right? In the middle of all this profound realness, bathed in the sidelight of our humble ward's proximity to the glow of the Other Side, my ego still wants to rank itself longevity-wise against its peers. Pathetically habitual. It didn't last long, but boy did I notice its fierceness as it arose. It was the part of me that looks to know the pecking order; nothing more sinister than that old social habit.
We all do it, scan the entire proximal human landscape with our finest sensor arrays and seek to position ourselves in an internal landscape that matches pleasingly with our self-perceptions/delusions if possible just so as we can be comfortable making human contact. But seriously, playing who's sickest?
Sure, I'm sure it's natural, it's just that I never looked at it before. I was always in some ways still just a visitor, with all the usual disclaimers about certainty in life in place as usual. Now I realise I am in fact one of those folks whose names I'd see repeatedly over the months. In, out, back for longer or shorter ... then here for one last visit. Sometimes those last visits would announce themselves symptomatically, and you knew from the sound of things - or sometimes from the giveaway presence of a tidal wave of family - that it would be a short stay. Other times you just knew they were here "until."
I am now here "until."
Of the three of us, I am the "old hand."
I'll keep y'all posted.
The view from my armchair. Nice, eh? That's my Echinocactus grusonii in a pot. It's my favourite plant, so Meeta brought it up. Soil from home, and all that. I have had it since it was smaller than a golf ball.
Maybe one day it will grow up to be a big fine specimen like one of these, eh?