Early Tuesday morning, after we left the hotel, we drove past the hospital where L. was born, almost ten years ago. We'd driven past it on Monday, but didn't have the time to stop in. It was an extra trip that morning--another stop in an already jam-packed day of activities--but when we asked L. if he really wanted to go see the hospital, he emphatically said yes he did.
I'm not sure if I needed to see it. I don't have too many fond memories of the hospital where L. was born. His birth had turned out to be one of those over-medicalized births I'd always sworn I wouldn't have: I was induced, and my induction led me to an epidural, and because it was a teaching hospital there were way too many people in my room at any given moment--I had felt exposed, and embarrassed, and out-of-control--all things you don't want to feel when you're having a baby. Labor was too long, and too painful, L. aspirated meconium, and my visions of snuggling with my brand-new baby quickly vanished minutes after he was born. He was whisked off to the NICU. I certainly hadn't imagined that.
His birth had felt more like an ordeal, and less like the kind of memory I wanted to revisit.
But on Tuesday I found myself outside the glass hospital doors again, in the same spot where the large, friendly nurse named China had wheeled me out--my little bundle of boy in my arms--the day we were discharged. On one side of the doors a couple was arguing--I'm not sure over what--and on the other side of the doors a thin man stood with a partially-deflated Get Well Soon balloon blowing hopefully in the breeze.
L. stood in front of the doors and took a deep, expansive breath.
"So this is it!" he said. "This is the place where I took my first outside world breath."
His first breath of the outside world. I hadn't thought about it that way before.
In a way, Rochester, New York, was where Scott and I took our first outside world breaths, too. For him, it was the first time he'd lived far from home. For us both, it was the beginning of our married lives together. When we moved to Rochester it felt like we were walking into a huge, unwritten book. We couldn't wait to plunge right in. We tried to explain all this to the kids as we drove away from dinner on Tuesday night.
I sniffled a lot, and blew my nose. I felt overwhelmed by emotion, haunted--in good ways--by the ghosts all around us: the familiar buildings, and sidewalks, and faces.
"You began here," T. said, simply and very wisely.
Yes we did. Sometimes you have to take a trip back into the past, to see how far you've come.