2/06/2002

as the nurse amasses her various instruments, i assume the usual bloodtest position: sleeve pushed up, left arm held out, head turned in the opposite direction.  oh, i watch while she takes the needle out of its sterile little package, and i watch as she chooses a glass vial from the rack and affixes it to the needle.  i even watch when she stretches the tourniquet over my upper arm and loops it around, tucking it in with a dull rubbery snap.  but after she swabs the inside of my elbow with alcohol, i look to the right and fix my gaze on the space between door and dusty linoleum.
“there’s going to be a small pinch,” she says, and i can feel her long hair brush against my arm as she leans over and jabs the needle in.  she waits a few seconds, then says, “it’ll just be one more minute.”
i smile at her attempt to reassure me.  she doesn’t know how many times i’ve been here before.  she has no idea that i am good, really good at this.  “i’m fine,” i say as she removes the tourniquet, “i just don’t like to watch.”

but i always make sure i look back in time to see my blood run down the sides of the little vial.  those few seconds, after the needle is out but before the vial has been capped and labeled and dropped back into the rack, are the most important.  blood is so gross and beautiful, and i wonder how much of it they use for the testing and what they do with the rest.  do they pour it down the drain?  into the trash?  do they throw it into a medical waste bin to mix in the dark with other people’s blood and tissue?  i imagine the latter to be the greater possibility, but it doesn’t matter.  i just like to see me sloshing around outside of myself, just underneath a rubber stopper.

and it occurred to me today that you and i are not making time, and we’re not borrowing it, either.  we’re stealing it, ripping it from responsibility’s fists and dropping it into the cupped hand of new experiences.  but it’s not our fault, really.  there are, after all, trees to be climbed.  insects to be shaken.  cliffs to be jumped from.  someone has to do it.