It crashes and sways, teetering on the edge of its new-found place in the edge of the ocean before being ripped back out to sea. The sand flows, shifts and reshapes under the pull of the unrelenting waves. At the same time, its brother, if in composition only, separated for years or for moments by the forces of nature, clings tightly to the edge of the cliff, whipped wildly by the winds coming off the water. Those two, separated by distance and environment, yet the same through and through.
I'm back, I think, as my feet pad softly, purposefully, across the white-washed linoleum of my hospital.
I'm home, I think, as I walk through the familiar world of bustling green and blue uniforms. The chatter from the cafeteria rises up the sunny atrium in tonal waves, wrapping me in a world of people. My people.
It's been so long since I've seen you. The monolith of the multi-coloured building with matching lifts and curtains. Lifts that haven't worked effectively since the day they were installed. Odd traffic flow. Overpriced coffee. An overpass that was building over the new year period yet already leaks in the rain. The mill of patients and families in the lifts and corridors. Pathology to the right and surgery to the left. Kindly volunteers who smile and chat. Little things that make it feel familiar. But it doesn't matter that this place has its own architectural faults. I know how things work here. I understand the people. I don't get lost. And it just feels right.
I was gone for a month and I missed you. Isn't that odd? I missed our little, skewed microcosm of society. I was gone for a month where I learnt so much. Where I learnt a new system. A month where white floors were replaced with blue, and where large canvases on the walls were replaced by small Aboriginal dot paintings. Where, instead of a train station at my doorstep, the hospital looked out on The Gap and the trees and red terrain between us. It felt almost at home. But it wasn't, quite.
As I reacquaint myself with home, sinking my soul a little deeper each step into this familiar place, it feels almost as if I'm disappearing into the fabric of the hospital. As if I am just a part of its monstrous churning cogs. My disappearance was hardly noted. Of all roles, mine is probably the most redundant and insignificant. I am but a grain of sand in the ocean, to be tossed about at the whims of the water that envelops me. To be pulled to shore by chance and swept out again by the tides of time. A pull that was irresistible.
It was a pull to be wrapped in blues down in our not-so-deep dungeons, listening to the cries for DeBakeys and 3-0 PDS. Going through the process of the day's first five minute scrub and the dance that is gowning and gloving. Chassé-ing past the scout nurse, careful not to introduce unwanted pathogens onto my sterile attire. Swaying my feet from side to side to increase venous return while focusing intently on the procedure at hand.
It was a pull to be part of something bigger. To be in a team that shares their love of their specialty and makes me love it too. To hear the music in their voices as they speak of what is not work but eighty hours a week of passion.
It was a pull for the unknowns to be met in the midst of a known. Where the security of a familiar environment makes it feel safe to trust in one's own capacity. Even if that capacity is solely to ask intelligent-sounding questions.
I'm back. I keep leaving, keep taking my suitcase and running out of town. I keep going places where I learn a lot about the world and the people in it. But I'm here to stay. Just for a little while longer.