I have injured my shoulder, and went to have an x-ray on it this afternoon.
The radiology office is across the street from a large local hospital, in one of those nondescript boxy medical office complexes where one weaves past four identically bland buildings – each plastered with a street number – to find the fifth nestled against a too-small, dead-end parking lot. Patients in varying states of health pass me: an attractive middle-aged woman in a business suit; a young mother with frazzled hair and an undulating tight knit top, hauling a 2-year-old girl whose greatest happiness in life is playing with a Trader Joe’s balloon; a frail and elderly woman accompanied by two brusque daughters, one of whom carries the elder woman’s bra as if clutching a handkerchief.
As I sit waiting, I feel invisible. No eyes are upon me, the small middle-aged blonde reading an entertainment magazine. Each patient is focussed on their own needs, their own pain, their own personal world. It is as if I am not in the room at all, not a witness to their lives. When the receptionist does appear to ask for my insurance card, noticeably lacking is the sensation of eyes seeing my smile, or the way I drop the magazine on the chair as I follow the receptionist to the counter.
Somehow, this is a relief. I have liberty in my anonymity.