My first attempt at starting a story-telling writing business was a flop. Not any ordinary flop but more like the kind of belly flop that stings the diver and any onlookers. Here is an account of my final day on the "diving board."
I arrived at Whispering Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center around 9am. The parking lot looked more desperate than the residents inside. Large overgrown weeds grew through the cracks of the driveways' pavement lurching into oncoming traffic for a chance at freedom. I was already starting to sweat through the armpits of my snug Brooks Brothers button-down shirt. Why the fuck did I wear this shirt?!
The main hall smelled of dirty furniture and dirty bodies. Warn and stained sofas decorated a small sitting area that separated the tiny rooms that were also the residents home and world. I was directed to my vendor table, where I got busy arranging sugar-free candies and carefully printed flyers. I was surrounded by strange knock-off Lladro that adorned the particle board china cabinet next to my station. A framed print-out caught my eye. It read: WE REMEMBER NURSING AND REHABILITATION RESIDENTS WHO HAVE DIED IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS. They couldn't have come up with a better line or phrase to honor those that have passed away?
Today the biggest impact was felt in the free candy rather than the stack of flyers and business cards that just sat there mocking me. For the past three months, I had devoted my free and paid time to launching a story telling business, and all I have to show for it is frustration. One resident with greasy hair and a worn wallet circles my table. She is mumbling about the amount of people that are crowding her hallway. Apparently for her, "Family and Friends Day" is sheer hell. Another resident we will call her, "Bonita" makes her way to my table. Her face is both kind and confused, and she beams when she sees my confections (now scattered) laying across the white table cloth. I can't help but encourage her to take a few more for visiting grandchildren. The caregivers or CNAs seem to do the lions share of the work for the least amount of pay. One thing I've noticed about the caregivers is that their expressions tell more about them than their resume.
Three hours later I close for business. Today, I continue to write but have put the story telling aspect to bed. I am happily distracted by my two wonderful children, who remind me that belly flops real or metaphor are worth the experience.