I’m at the hospital this morning to do a postpartum test to determine whether or not the gestational diabetes I developed during pregnancy has continued. It’s a test I have been dreading more than I’ve admitted, because the truth is that I’m afraid of finding out that I’ll have to restrict my diet for the rest of my life.
It’s a long test so I’ll be sitting here for close to three hours. I forgot a book, though I’ve got a couple downloaded on my phone, but right now, it’s wonderful to listen to a conversation between older people who ran into each other here in the waiting room.
It’s part of the beauty of a small town, one of the things I love. It’ll be unusual if I don’t see someone here who I know, even though the hospital isn’t generally a place I frequent; a small town means that I’ve crossed paths with a lot of people, and they with me. It makes going to the grocery store a social event, driving down the highway an opportunity to delight in friends headed the other way.
This small group is reuniting unexpectedly and covering a range of topics. Right now, they’re discussing someone they knew who died after a motorcycle crash; they’ve decided it’s less sad because he was 80. It’s a bit voyeuristic, but I’m loving this conversation. They’re talking about people they’ve known their whole lives. One woman is talking about someone who recently died, who was her oldest friend. They met when they were two, when one then-little girl hit the other then-little girl with a metal pot she found in the sandbox. Stay away from that little girl, the injured girl’s mom said, but she didn’t listen, and then those two were friends for the rest of their lives.
This group is talking about everything: people they’ve all known, their families, tragedies that other people experienced. They’re talking about what they do for fun, where they still travel. One of them gets called back into the lab, and the others keep talking. They know each other’s families, can draw the map of connections between people with names like Mary and Dylan and Dan.
It is a wonderful conversation to eavesdrop on, and oh – how I wish these people well!
I think this must be rare, for people who have known each other for their entire lives to still live in the same town, to still be able to run through collective experiences together. Surely that’s good for us. I won’t have that; I haven’t lived anywhere for that kind of steady time. I’ve lived in California for about 10 of my adult years, but not all at once. Truthfully, I wouldn’t change that; my adulthood has been spread out across states like North Carolina, Virginia, and (the soon-to-be state) DC. Still, I think it’s really neat to find people who have stayed in the places where they started.
I suppose now I have a decision to make, though not for me. Will the place where my baby comes from always be home, at least through high school? It’s a big question, and one I won’t answer today, or likely anytime soon. But however it happens, I hope one day that there’s this kind of reminiscing with good friends for my child, these kinds of people to help mark the ups and downs of life.
I know enough to know that’s not about where you settle; it’s about how you build and sustain connection. I have those types of people, and I’m better for it. For instance, it helps me feel less afraid of the results of this test. Whatever this test says about my eating habits to come, I know I’m the luckiest to have people by my side who will help me adjust and grow.
Three hours in the hospital waiting room sounded like no fun at all, and I’m eager to get my baby in my arms again, but this has actually been a sweet little interlude. The group has finished their business and moved on, but not before one talked to me briefly about how overjoyed they were to run into their friends here. It felt a little like a celebrity interaction, and somehow – even if I don’t see anyone I knew before this morning for the rest of the day – it feels like I’ve touched base with someone I know, after all.