Thursday, March 5, 2009

on the other side

It has often been said that the grass looks greener on the other side. The blades of grass look so appealing. Its bluish green tints shine brightly in the sun (from where I stand at least). In my corner, the shrubbery is anything but majestic. What was once a landscape of neat Bermuda grass is now infested with weeds and various bugs- a beautiful paradise giving way to a throng of convenience and mis-happenstance.

During moments of introspection, it’s only normal to hate our lives. I myself have thought about changing things drastically (hence the haircut) in an effort to become closer to my ideal self. Meet someone interesting enough and you start to wonder: what would it be like to be just like you?

I got home at about 2 in the morning to find my father smoking, looking helpless at the door. Apparently, my sister had another close encounter with Mickey Rat (Mickey Mouse’s fat, ugly cousin) and she fell down the stairs. City life is not all it’s perked up to be.

I asked my sister how she was and she said she felt fine. She was a little shaken but she wasn’t really in pain at all. I asked if she hit her head. Yes, she said. We fed each other's paranoia and in the end, I convinced her to go to the hospital.

So that’s how I got to spend my Sunday morning at the emergency room. I held my sister’s hand through the whole process. I didn’t expect that this would be where my next epiphany would find me.

As we were pulling up to the curb, I noticed a man in a white shirt running towards the ER. He had a panicked expression and was practically screaming at the nurses for help. He had a bottle of milk and a dirty white washcloth with him. About two minutes later, a woman with her infant came in. I tried my best not to eavesdrop but from the little I could surmise, the baby fell off the bed. The little girl’s green and white shirt had lots of dried blood. As the doctors rushed to her aid, I noticed that the man kept pacing around the room. It’s not everyday that something like this happens. I wanted to tell him that things were going to be fine but truth is I wasn’t so sure of that myself.

My sister and I looked at each other. I don’t think I’m supposed to be here, she said and I felt like she pulled the words right out of my mouth.

As the doctor examined my sister, I couldn’t help but stare at the man in the white shirt. He was talking to someone on his cellphone, possibly about an urgent loan. He didn’t have much money, this much was clear but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. Here was a man whose entire life was placed on hold for the one thing that he loved most. I thought about all my problems with money and I realized that despite all the times I felt I was depriving myself of things, I had no right to complain. Here was a man with a valid (and might I say urgent) financial problem. He looked like a good man. He must be wondering why this was happening to him. From what I could see, he didn’t let that get in the way. He just did what he had to do to save his daughter’s life.

A few moments later, a group of scantily clad women rushed into the ER. Mind you, this is a small hospital where hardly anything ever happens so getting three patients in one night was a big deal. Some of the nurses started waking up to attend to the new patients. Anong nangyari?, said one of the nurses. Inaapoy po siya ng lagnat. Di daw maka-ihi, said one of the women. The doctors and nurses all looked at each other.

One of the more sarcastic doctors was assigned to her case. Severe UTI yan. Bakit kasi pinagpa-bukas niyo pa? Hirap umihi, ibig sabihin may problema ang daluyan ng ihi. Ano ba ang daluyan ng ihi?, she managed to say in one breath.

Andun po kasi siya sa dressing room. Nangangatog. Di naman nahimatay pero inaapoy talaga ng lagnat, said a slightly bigger woman. It was crystal clear these women were prostitutes. I felt awful for the poor girl in pink pants and wooly black socks. She could not have been more than 19 years old. Whatever decisions led her to that hospital bed, I didn’t really want to know. I just realized that no matter how bad I feel about my career progress and some other work drama, at least these things will never lead me to a hospital bed with infected pink parts. At least I’m in a safe workplace where no one could really threaten my life.

No matter how shitty my life can be at times, it helps to know that I’m relatively fine. I’m not dead in some stranger’s home. I’m healthy. I’m not running a race against time and money to save my daughter’s life. I don’t have to sell my body to earn a living. I have all my limbs and original parts. Yes, I’m whiny but I’m grateful nonetheless.

My sister’s better now. After a series of x-rays, the doctor told us that her neck bones were really straight and that wasn’t a good thing. After the mandatory lecture, she sent us home with a prescription and specific instructions. Although the 30° pillow inclination isn’t helping her sleep one bit, with some rest, medication and support from family and friends, she’ll be back to her old self in no time.

We all have problems. No one goes through life without them. Every now and then, we need a reminder that for most people, the grass is never just green. Sometimes it’s brown-green, half alive and half dead. Sometimes it’s brown with the faint scent of dog shit. For some, there is no grass- only a mixture of mud and tears. That should never stop them. Grass, for all its elusiveness, is incredibly tenacious and sometimes all it needs is a little elbow grease and a shitload of contentment. I think Sheryl Crow said it best. The secret to happiness is not in having what you want. It’s in wanting what you’ve got.

Postscript: My dad bought about three of those old-school rat traps ala Tom and Jerry. Haven’t heard any snaps but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

photo: green grass and blue sky [admin]