Saturday, July 7, 2012

"They can not be here forever"

My eye surgeon works hard, as 
a 2nd year Fellow at the Univ-
ersity hospital, an élite desig-
nation for the most promising
residents, who will not remain. 
I met him in an emergency last 
Sunday, 3 visits ago, and wrote
about it then and again, not ex-
pecting to do so today. I asked
him yesterday, if he could take
a weekend off this week, and he
said, no. It is, he said, the
birthday of his daughter, and he
has not been able to go shopping
for her, and will miss most of
her day.

To me, of course, this is ter-
rible. In a way of changing the
subject, I told him I had just 
been reading about an automobile
for him, out in the waiting room
as my pupils were turbocharging.
Yes, I said, it is made by VW
but it is called a Bugatti Vey-
ron (by pure sentiment, as in Ab-
ercrombie and Tummy), and it 
is very fast. He has no free 
time, he needs a way to extract 
what others derive, more quickly
and with greater concentration.

He said, Ah, I used to love Los
Angeles; I could drive 90 miles
per hour, everywhere. Everybody
does, he said; and the only real
problem is when you miss an exit.
I told him I could well imagine
this, and that I'd grown up in a
town so small in Los Angeles, it
didn't have an exit of its own.
Were you at UCLA, I asked. No,
at SC; and I said, oh, my,
I was so close, in San Marino.
Oh, so you are a Californian,
then, and I know I smiled when
I said, yes. I always do; and
he was smiling, too, remember-
ing South Pasadena.

Then he said, you know, my daugh-
ter was born in Huntington Hos-
pital. (This is an establishment
akin to everything named Hunting-
ton in that small world, every-
thing of the name being in San
Marino, but for the grande dame,
the neighborhood hotel, in Pas-
adena). That's where I was born,
I lighted up, as if subscribing
to membership in an obscure and
tiny team; but such things are
important to children, when they
learn about them. He said, yes,
my daughter was born there on
07/07/07, and he was sparklingly
pleased about that, too.

And what is her name? Nahla, he
said, spelling it out for me,
and I could envision a bright
and pretty little feminine ver-
sion of himself, a little Syrian
girl of infinite dark eyes. She
must be very proud of you, and
understand why you are away from
home a lot. She knows I am an eye
doctor, he said, allowing that
she was happy about that.

Then he said, his mother and his
father were there, but that they
would be leaving for Syria on Mon-
day. I said, oh no, it is very 
dangerous, as if this small detail
might have eluded a busy fellow.
Yes, he said, he knows he might
not see them again. But they can
not be here forever, it is home.

Happy birthday, precious Nahla.

ii  Photography Beth Nelson

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