I pull up to the circle drive, and a nice young man opens my door and hands me a ticket. He whisks my car away, free of charge, and I am left at the entrance. The big rotating glass door has ample room as it slowly opens on a bright and open lobby. The serene sound of a bubbling exotic fish tank and peaceful music from a woman at a black baby grand piano makes this a luxurious experience. The front desk is large and marble, and I feel like I am at some posh hotel downtown. It smells faintly like some designer fragrance, clean and floral but simple and subtle, like something new and fresh and happy. This place is like a spa; I am calm and relaxed.
Which is odd, because this is the cancer center. I suspect none of the visitors feel calm or relaxed. But I suppose that’s the point of the fish tank, the music, the fragrance–to ease the tension, to help people forget where they really are.
There is a coffee counter in every waiting room. I’m not sure what is comforting about having access to coffee in a waiting room, but it works. It reminds me of meeting my mother after baton practice; her Al-Anon meeting was at the same time in the same building. When I stuck my head in the door and the meeting was over, people were always corralled around the coffee counter, helping themselves to one last comforting cup before heading out and facing cold reality.
People coping with the same affliction, no matter how different their lives, their ages, their beliefs, gathering together anonymously to find some kind of healing for their trauma–this waiting room is another version of that.
Sitting on the lush leather couch, waiting for my name to be called, I often forget we’re all victims of cancer. People who look perfectly healthy get called before I do, and I wonder what their story is. And then I wonder what they think when they see me there, too.
*Have you ever visited a place where it looked completely different than you expected it to? Set your timer and write.*