"...no matter where we are we're always touching by underground wires..."
The Past is a Grotesque Animal, Of Montreal
last time I was in Boston was Nov 2005, in a van driving alongside the Charles, heading out of town after many weeks living in the Kendall Sq Residence Inn, homebase for me and M and Maxwell (RIP xo) while I received 25 rounds of proton beam radiation and 10 rounds of photon radiation one stop up the T red line at MGH. That period exists in our minds in the present tense, somehow part of and divorced from our reality, a lumbering, cumbersome phantom limb. It wasn't until this visit, in 2013, for M to attend AWP, with me safely tucked away from the fear and black of 2005 that I was able to see in clear relief how the darkness suffused the landscape then, how my eyes saw everything through the gauzy haze of possibly being dead soon.
A couple weeks before the trip I got in touch with Dr. L, who managed my protons, to let him know we'd be in town and could we come by and say hello. He was amenable, telling us to meet him at the Proton Center and so on a snowy 3/5 we took the T green line from the Prudential Center, transferred at Park to the red line and on to MGH. In 2005 the station was undergoing retrofitting and/or redesign and my memory of it is caution tape, orange cones, signage warning of peril and danger. Today it is shiny steel and glass, almost obscuring prior transitional phase by merely existing.
Walking into the Yawkey Center I felt strange waves of sadness and gratitude, inextricably linked, neither possible without the other. We paused for a moment so M could eat her lunch before heading to the proton center. I looked around at faces of patients and caregivers, the shimmer of uncertainty in some eyes was a familiar bell tolling inside me, near and far all at once.
Later, after our visit w/ Dr. L and his apprentice was done, after their questions about my health, my life, my good fortune had been asked and answered, after we rode the elevator up from the treatment floor back to the Yawkey Center, after we'd ridden back on two different T lines and emerged in the Prudential Center about to part ways so M could attend a panel we realized we didn't have the baby bag (which for the uninitiated contains diapers, some toys, some utensils and other errata vital to the parent). We realized we must have left it at the cafe at MGH. M went to her panel and N and I got back on the T, going back the way we just came, snow flurries increasing, part of me certain the bag was gone forever and another part equally certain it would be sitting at the cafe, exactly where we left it, safe from harm but exposed and vulnerable, something vital we'd forgotten, misplaced in our daily hustle.
N and I walked down from the T stop, across the street, into the snow. I was having deja vu, having walked into this building both 2 hours before and 8 years before. Moments later I sent M the following: