I blame the hospital for making me so unrecognizable. And I think it started with time.
I don’t mean a lack of it, which is my usual complaint about time. There is something called time-orientation, which is a trait a person can have (or not have). The opposite is event-orientation. Cory and I first learned these terms at a leadership training retreat in college- one of those weekends where you go to a remote location with a bunch of other immature adults who you don’t know and you voluntarily do a lot of simulations that make you question if you are a good person. The discovery: There are no good people. While on this retreat we also learned that people tend to be either time-oriented or event-oriented. Time-oriented people are the types of folks who I would perhaps describe as “reliable” in a time sense…they don’t run late, they don’t end late, and they in general respect your time. Event-oriented people, on the other hand, may not finish on the dot or map a meeting down to the minute, but they are good at achieving the purpose of an event to its fullest extent and focusing more on the goal than on the schedule.
Time-orientation is not better than event-orientation, as these are just two different ways to go about life. Or this is what we were told at the retreat. But I’ve always been time-oriented, and more so after struggling with insomnia. And I, in my immense patience and accepting attitude, have many event-oriented friends. I love them but also was constantly confused by why they couldn’t be superior, time-oriented people like myself.
Then I ended up in the hospital for two weeks, which in a strange way felt like two years. And while there, I learned about something that I dubbed hospital time. It’s like football time, but usually much longer and 100% less predictable. Here are some examples of statements using hospital time instead of normal-people time:
The MRI is going to happen soon. “Soon” in hospital time could mean minutes or hours. But I’d better be ready before it’s my turn, otherwise I forfeit my spot in the mysterious line of confused hospital patients waiting to get an MRI.
The doctor is coming sometime this morning. “Sometime” in hospital time means enough time to fall back asleep, wake up, get dressed, order breakfast, eat breakfast, talk with a friend on the phone, then for Cory to get up, get dressed, pick up coffee, and drive over here and leisurely find a spot in the parking garage. In fact, I don’t even ask where the doctor is until late afternoon. And it’s not worth asking again until tomorrow, at which point hospital time resets to zero.
The medication is supposed to get delivered before I’m in immense pain. Ha! Let’s not talk about hospital time anymore.
A few days ago, Cory and I were in an airport, traveling for Thanksgiving. (My headaches behaved reasonably well, thank God!) I thought it would be nice to eat at an airport Chili’s for dinner during our layover, so we sat down and ordered a truly mediocre meal, and chatted, and connected over how hard life has been these days. And I laughed and smiled, which can be hard for me to do recently. It was nice.
Then Cory said, “We should hurry up…our flight leaves soon.”
And it hit me: Over the entire meal, I had not thought about how we were in an airport and how important it was to not miss our connecting flight! I was caught up in the conversation and not aware of the time. I asked Cory about this (instead of finishing my food and moving along to the gate), and he confirmed that I’ve been “like this” ever since getting out of the hospital. (Cory, who just read this, doesn’t remember this conversation at all. Probably because he was so focused on us getting to our flight on time.)
Hospital time took hold, and I am now an event-oriented person, apparently. I used to end a meeting with the agenda unfinished if the time was up, and I had no qualms about being the first person to leave anything that went late into the night. Now I’m regularly unaware of the time when I meet up with friends, and I ran my last doctor’s appointment so late that we kept another doctor waiting outside to use the room. I barely recognize this clock-free, unbounded version of myself. It feels like I went to hospital and boom…I’m just different now.
There are other things about me that just up and changed since being sick, without my permission. Some of the changes are more noticeable and others less; some are easy to accept, like event-orientation, but other changes are hard. Losing weight, for example, was noticeable and hard. It’s difficult to explain, but losing weight when I wasn’t trying felt like a very unwelcome change. And with this, and my new general situation, came a necessity for new fashion choices.
The new style likewise started in the hospital, where I embraced comfy and fitting clothing primarily out of necessity. I’ll talk more about this in a future post, but in short, I’m now addicted to fun leggings and clashing, but likewise festive, socks. This is another one of the things I picked up in the hospital that stuck, as I now wear something other than leggings only when strictly necessary. I also started wearing glasses a few weeks ago. They aren’t prescription glasses- they are just blue light blocking lenses, and they keep my headache from being aggravated by electronics and bright ceiling lights. There aren’t a lot of styles to choose from, especially for women, so I ended up with a pair of glasses that are large and round, with a tortoise shell pattern.
And finally, I just replaced my jacket (which was too big) with a smaller Patagonia puffer jacket. So, my new “usual look” is a pair of fun leggings, a Patagonia puffer jacket, and large, round glasses.
So, there you have it…I’m a hipster!
Identity is often discussed in the Christian faith. Christians are called to root ourselves in Jesus Christ alone, because He does not change or fall out from under us like other things do. I understand this in a new way as I’m being transformed into an event-oriented hipster. Cory and I both got many laughs out of my hipster-ization process, and I enjoy feeling less enslaved to my phone clock throughout the day. But each unexpected change in who I am, from the smallest to the largest, means some part of my old self is gone. And that’s weird, and hard. I was afraid to wear my large glasses outside of the house for days and days because how I looked in the glasses was not how I imagined me. The process of feeling comfortable with my new look meant letting go of vanity and uprooting a part of myself that I had never before realized was deeply reliant on my external appearance. And there are many bigger examples, like letting go of being an independent person in favor of having Cory help me organize medications. Or letting go of me being someone who is “always on” and instead taking a nap when I’m tired.
These many parts of myself are changing, and sometimes it makes me laugh, and sometimes it makes me cry. Or both. It’s like life is spinning out of control. But I see now more than ever why it’s just so much easier to have all of myself rooted in Jesus, who makes me into a better version of myself than I ever could on my own. And this new me may not look like a hipster forever, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m no longer so wrapped up in how I look. And really, I can’t imagine a future with Jesus that doesn’t involve wearing leggings. They are waaay too comfortable. And fun socks, too. Never forget the fun socks!