VENESECTION COLLECTION — Week 8
Yesterday I walked into the VG considering coincidence and destiny.
Some people consider coincidences to be signs from something greater — the universe, god, a spiritual clue into what we are experiencing. The more critical and doubtful consider coincidences to be nothing more than moments where things line up in unexpected ways making them seem more profound and unique than they really are.
I think of myself as being someone who exists somewhere between working with critical doubt and always reflecting and hopefully considering symbolism. I want to believe there is power and purpose behind coincidences but the logical and rational sides of me do not agree with the emotional. The emotional usually wins.
Arriving to the medical day unit, the nurse attached my medical information bracelet to my left wrist, “What arm are we using this week Tyler?”
We agreed to use the opposite arm from last week and she arranged the blood pressure cuff on my left arm and pressed go. The reading was high, much higher than normal. The nurse asked, “Did you rush here? Are you stressed?”
I told the nurse a bit about my day.
Somewhere between destiny and coincidence is where I landed at about 11:30am that morning. I had left work to walk across the street to the grocery store to buy a cake and a card for a coworkers birthday. I was supposed to do this earlier. I was supposed to leave at 10:30am but I got caught in work and tasks, my priorities shifted. When I did leave, I wanted to use the washroom, but the bathroom was full. So I headed to Sobey’s an hour later than I had originally intended and just a few minutes earlier than I would have liked.
I left at just the exact time needed and necessary for something unexpected to occur.
Crossing the street and stepping off the curb into the parking lot I saw a ghost. Someone from my past I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. Someone who was unlikely to ever be seen again.
From her car, beeping her horn, I could hear her yelling, “Hey baby! Guess who’s back!?”
I almost puked. It had been over a year and a half since I had last seen her. My shock turned to disappointment as I watched some other version of me wave back. I yelled, “Come into the parking lot!” and motioned for her to come over. What was I doing?
My body was rejecting everything about this encounter. I felt electric and sick. I think perhaps I was in shock. I also think my body knew what this person could mean.
I knew her from a different time, when it felt like I was living a different life. She was the main facilitator of the experiences which brought me most of my guilt, shame, and darkness. I made the choices, but she provided some of the options. She was who I went to when I didn’t want to be around the people who love me. She accepted me in ways I didn’t want to be accepted. In our last encounter she told, “We are all junkies here, baby.”
When I decided to become sober, she went away. The kind of away where you don’t come back. The kind of away where you don’t get to choose what you eat, where you sleep, or who gets to watch you when you need to shower or use the washroom.
While the thought of running into her was always on my mind, never really as away as I wanted — this terrifying thought holding the handle to doors I wanted to keep closed — I also felt guilty for ignoring her calls and messages. I deleted apps, blocked numbers, and pretended I didn’t know her. I made it difficult to be reminded of her. I made it difficult to be reminded of another version of myself.
For all of the things I thought she represented, she was a human. In her own way she was maternal and compassionate. She was accepting and open, fierce and strong. A person who has experienced more than I could imagine and existed in a place in life I only ever visited.
She was in the car, next to where I found myself sitting. She smoked cigarettes and I talked about being sober. She was sober, her life was better. While I am sober, life is not always better, but it is different. I feel more power.
We said the kind and appropriate things you say to others in situations like this. We agreed we didn’t know if we should be friends, but for those few minutes we sat there and talked a bit about the past and a little bit about the future. I stared at her face. She is so strikingly beautiful but I couldn’t appreciate it. I was was looking at the parts of her face individually and unconnected from the rest. She kept saying, “this is such a coincidence.”
I told the nurse parts of this story. The emotional impact of coincidence was having an physical impact on my blood pressure. I felt revealed and raw, like I had shed whatever I normally used as protection. I was just meat and skeleton now.
Although my blood pressure was high it was not a concern for treatment. So she poked me and asked, “Do you know Tony Robbins?”
The vacuum existing in the blood collection bottle coaxed the fluid from my body — drawing the blood from my veins through the needle and into the plastic bottle. I replied, “Yeh. Like the self-help guy?”
I know of him. I know of many others who are like him. I have even thought that maybe one day I could be like him. White, male, having all the answers. If you just worked hard enough, believed enough, trusted the universe enough, you could be whoever you wanted to be. But I don’t know if I believe in that. The idea doesn’t line up with coincidence.
“Well, I was watching a special of his on Netflix one day, and sure enough, on the screen was an awful ex-boyfriend. In the audience. I couldn’t believe it! I yelled at my husband to come take a look.”
As she is telling me this, my body started rejecting the blood-letting process. Muscles at the injection site begin to spasm, the area was inflamed and angry. No longer was my body considering the loss of blood and the process of venesection as a coincidence. There was memory connecting the experiences. It did it’s best to eject the needle and slow the flow of blood.
The nurse continued her story as she handed me a bag of saline. When you squeeze the bag, you relax and contract the muscles in the arm, quelling the spasms, allowing the venesection to continue.
“Well, I turned on the show, I don’t even really like Tony Robbins, but there was my ex-boyfriend. Of all the places, he was in the audience! Just seeing his face shocked me. It was so unexpected.”
I considered this. I considered it in relation to what I have been experiencing. I know the world is becoming increasingly smaller. Greater amount of content, more ways of sharing it, increased means of connection — all adding up to more ‘coincidences.’ Was my experience just a coincidence?
This morning I took a bath. I have physiotherapy in a couple of hours and I do my best to arrive relaxed and calm. As I wrote before, stress and anxiety are contributing factors to some of the challenges I am experiencing now.
I tried to meditate, to calm my mind, to wash, to do anything. But I couldn’t. I got lost in playing with the bubbles. I scooped them out of the water and pinched and stretched them, watching energy and fluid pass from tiny bubble to tiny bubble, some spinning and joining other bubbles.
I noticed as I brought two bubbles closer together, the direction of the energy and flow of fluid at the surface of the bubble shifted. The bubble would orient itself towards the direction of the approaching bubble. Both bubbles spinning excitedly as I brought them together. I thought more about coincidences.
What brought me together with her yesterday. What coincidence allowed for me to have a condition where I need to be drained of my blood, or see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, or grow up queer, or be as privileged as I am?
How much of everything we experience, what shapes us, just happens?
Are we like the bubbles in my bath, spinning and barely holding on to our surface tension, orienting ourselves to align with whatever is closest and convenient?
I am starting to think there is little we can do to design our lives. We are merely bubbles in a bath, holding energy and potential, our individual capacity unable to work against the greater forces of the universe.
We are billions of coincidences, bumping into each other, hoping we hold it together, and praying we don’t burst.