C. and I enter the hospital, pass through the lobby, go down the hallways and find the room: 541B. Inside, the doctor is starting to give the lecture. We find places to stand along the wall, but I know I will not last the whole time. I must find a bathroom and leaving now will be better than disturbing the lecture once it gets started. I tell C. where I’m going, and I’ll meet him back in the room. 541B.
The nurses and receptionists do not help. They say they don’t know where the bathroom is, or they point to some vague spot down the hall, or tell me it’s just around the corner. Then I go and I search, but I can’t find it. No one helps; I’m going in circles. Now I’m back right outside 541B. How could it be so difficult? Surely others are headed to the bathroom, and finding it. Or maybe the bathrooms are only for hospital workers and hospital patients. What am I but an unauthorized visitor?
It must be here somewhere. I decide to comb carefully pass the doors– the narrow doorways and hallways that a person could barely fit into — to find the hidden bathroom. I think I find one but it turns out to be something else. The doors are mis-marked, or marked in riddles. I for one cannot understand the signs, or the color coding of the doors. Why can other people find their way but I have such a difficult time?
I would give up and go back to the lecture, but it’s been such a long time that now I really need to find the bathroom quickly. I should let C. know where I am, I’ve been gone that long. I look for my cell phone in my large, messy purse. I keep digging around but I can’t find it. I need a system; I need to organize all the cosmetics together, all the money together, all the . . . a woman sitting nearby asks if she can help. “No, I just need to go through my purse and find my cell phone.” I bend my head down to dig deeper into the purse. The woman comments on my prematurely gray hair. “This is not a good time,” I tell her. “I might bite your head off, I’m so stressed looking for my phone.”
Just as I find the phone and start to dial C. to tell him I got lost, he finds me. Now which car shall we take? Mine or the VW bus? People are circling the expansive, empty lot. A white dog comes up to me, making friends. Then a matching dog, in black: dogs just like the ones C. had been talking about.
I see someone backing up a van on to the curb. I warn him not to run over the dog. But he hits the dog anyway. I am upset. A woman asks for his license. Now I see a whole group of people in cars are going out together; but one of the cars almost runs over C. and me. The cars are circling us. “Get in,” C. tells me. But where? I can’t see which car I should get into. Oh, I see it now. So many friends. But a strange man is right behind me, in their midst; no, I think I saw him before. I can’t tell. But so many wonderful old friends around me, what a surprise, what a delight!