6/100 Strangers Project

Today, my three, my son, my wife and me, were sitting in a preop holding room in Portland at the university hospital. We walked in to the Multnomah pavillion– the word evokes presence and history at the same time–probably built in the 30’s. Finials and foliates garnished solid beige and green brick walls and beyond them and hanging in the clearest blue sky was Mount Hood, the most decadent header for the city itself. We were looking down on the city and the mountains beyond. It was beautiful, truly. Even the inkling of fear that wound round our ankles as we waited for our son to be taken back for elective surgery did not keep us from noticing. Eventually, and as always so far in his short life, he did great and was an inspiration to us about trust and about immediately and without guile, letting us know his needs are as best he can, even though we don’t yet speak the same language.

The beauty of the pavilion has stayed with me. I have been in operating theaters and old surgical haunts. When I was a resident in Cincinnati, we had our weekly grand rounds–the lecture that includes and everyone and has a very long and wonderful history in medicine–in a refitted surgical amphitheater. You have probably seen one in a picture somewhere. They are tiled white, built in the round and very steep to allow the students to look over white tubular rails at operations they hoped to do some day. The patient would be brought in to a theater literally and the seats were full. The ether flowed and the students watched hernias repaired, cancers excised, femurs set.

Old things take me to an idea of things solid and safe and good. If they spent this much time on this building, the surgery must be good. This is not true, but it is, I think, what we want to think, and sometimes, it actually is true. When I saw Adam’s car, the car in this photo, it’s fins splitting Greenwood Ave. in Bend, I had to have it–on film. Not only the car though–the whole crew. We were following from behind and saw the girl and dog, who we now know are Ariah, the girl and Myah, the boxer. I asked Rose to wave him over at a stop light and we ended up in a parking lot taking several photos, the last of which you see here. This car means a lot to Adam as it has passed through many people to him and most recently many people he has known. His words:

 “It is a 1960 Chevy Belair. I bought it about a year ago from a friend of mine, who bought it from another friend of ours and he got it from yet another friend of ours. so I am the 4th owner of it in a group of friends. I has the upholstery done in it. some motor work lowered it and did a few cosmetic things such as pinstriping, paint, and fender skirts. There is lots more on the list to do for the car. The car is a daily driver and will always be one, no trailer queen here!”

Loved taking his picture, looking over the car and watching little Ariah watching me take her dad’s picture. The antique Hasselblad felt really right for this shot and even though my exposures were off, I am very happy with the series after they have been developed.

Old places, old building, new sons and daughters. Even though they come out perfect in one sense, the sons and daughers, they aren’t. We never are. My kiddo had a little mechanical issue that is probably fixed for good. Our human experience in these amazing bodies involves check ups, bang ups, breaks and fixes.  It is about breaking and healing and repeating.

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