I am sitting in the dark, perched near an open window. The storm outside is energetic, and right on top of us. Animals are all flushed out from their little caves, and with me in the living room.
I look at the window screen, and the water, which was moments before so formless, getting funneled into the squares of the screen. Organizing it, somehow.
I've been doing this since I was four or five. Racing to the window at first rumble. Watching the raindrops slowly lose their wildness on the mesh. Listening to the cracks and rumbles, perpetrated by god, or angels, or giants. Something so huge you couldn't see it. It made me feel safe.
That I still do this run to the window routine, 25 years later says something, I guess, about me. That in highly charged moments, I resort to ritual.
This past friday was no different. I had a short surgery. (Fat grafting to my radiated left chest, with the aim of positioning the fat so that it can nourish the skin back to some kind of pliancy.)
I usually do a late night dinner the evening before, and cleaning frenzy day of. I did both this time, and added some new ones. The day before, a friend gave me a little totem to give me luck. I decided he needed friends so I went to the crystal store and picked some magic rocks with nice vibrations. Then I took a salty bath and went to bed.
I brought one of my crystals, an orange calcite, the next day. I rubbed its waxy gloss, heated it in my hand, placed it over my chest, while the hospital performed its own series of rites. Four people, two nurses, two doctors, had me repeat my name, birthday, and what surgery I was having where. My long list of allergies, too. Each wrote it on a brand new form, and tucked the form into a grimy white binder. The hospital gave me totems too -- special robes, and numerous bracelets which were checked and rechecked several times.
My doctor made drawings, that looked a bit like crop circles, over my legs and flanks.
Somewhere in all this, a bit of my calcite chipped off, and I stuck the tiny pieces in my pocket. I took these with me into the O.R..
They led me in, and after one last check of the bracelets, laid me down. They piled on warm blankets; the anesthesiologist slipped in the I.V.; my surgeon cuffed me on the cheek. I closed my eyes and went to a familiar rocky shore, with golden light, and when I woke up I was shivering but not from cold or pain, just from being there.