Amy Brenneman: I go to the doctor's a lot these days. I never used to. Until the age of 35, I felt virtuous if I got a pap smear every leap year. I was in excellent health, and "aging" was a concept reserved for others.
Now I go a lot. I have a "condition" that is chronic and unresponsive to an arsenal of medications we throw at it. (Amazingly, I still lead my life, but a surgical solution is most likely in the offing. I am not concerned, diehard optimist that I am.) The rooms themselves are hushed and poorly lit. I used to find them utterly claustrophobic. There is no music. The magazines are old. Not an iPhone in sight, except for mine, as I periodically raise a smoke signal to the 21st century.
That was then. Now I've surrendered to those rooms and have actually come to love them, love my rheumy-eyed, walker-usin', hunched-over octogenarian brothers and sisters who wait with me there. Because in those rooms, I don't need to accomplish a thing. The relentless demands of day-to-day living -- parenting, careering, SAVING THE WORLD -- fall away, and all we need to do is be there, now, and attend to these crumbly, willful bodies. I may not be 80, but my body is crumbly and willful too.
Today I was caught behind a woman and her walker in a back hallway. She raised the metal bracket deliberately over and over, gingerly releasing the front tennis balls on the worn carpet. At first I tried to keep up with the pace of this century -- I strode defiantly behind her, and then tried to pass her on the left.
Whoosh. The tennis balls veered left.
I weaved right.
Swoosh. Tennis balls right.
I considered tapping her on the shoulder, but for what? To startle her, so that I could get to the elevator five seconds earlier? This outing was her day. The preparation for it, anticipation of it, exertion, and inevitable recovery -- both mental and physical -- that would take until suppertime. And did I want to be in the middle chapter, playing the part of the pushy a**hole who couldn't wait for the elevator five extra seconds?
I didn't want to play that part today.
I slowed my pace and walked as the tennis balls walked. Up with the right foot -- and down. Here comes the left, and -- down. I breathed as she breathed, and she never even knew I was there. We breathed the same breath, the walker and I, and nursed our battered bodies in communion.
|Amy Brenneman is an award-winning producer and actress, whose TV credits include "NYPD Blue," "Judging Amy" (which she also created and produced), and currently ABC's "Private Practice." She works with the non-profit groups Healthy Child/Healthy World, The Feminist Majority, and the Cornerstone Theater Company, of which she's a founding member. She is mother to Charlotte and Bodhi and wife to filmmaker Brad Silberling. They live in the San Fernando Valley, the most hip place to be in all of Los Angeles.|