The only gift is a portion of thyself. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
He next asked which arm I'd like impaled (probably not his exact wording.) We agreed my left looked good, so I dutifully hoisted myself onto a recliner built into the wall. A nervous young woman handed me a soft ball and requested I squeeze it while she checked my vein. She poked the inside of my arm for a moment or two, then asked me if she could look at the other arm. Uh-oh. We repeated the squeeze/poke procedure on my right side, then switched back to my left arm. When she went to the front of the bus for a whispered consult with Grinning Guy and another (very!) young woman, the truth became obvious. Nervous Nell was a rookie, and I was her training dummy.
GG accompanied NN back to my arm, poked at my vein area, and told her it was fine. I accepted a bottled water while NN made another trek to the front of the bus. A microwave beeped and its door slammed shut. She returned and exchanged the ball in my hand for a warm plastic sack. "Your hand is cold," she told me. "Squeeze this." I turned my face toward the bus wall and started yoga breathing while she clumsily struggled to tape something to my arm. "Are you okay?" she asked. "Fine," I lied. I opened a book I'd brought and tried to focus on the words while she fumbled, all the while narrating what she was doing. I felt pressure followed by an unpleasant sensation in my arm, but nothing I would label as pain.
As I got into my car, I couldn't help feel that although the beauty of the day seemed exactly as it had 45 minutes earlier, something had shifted. I'd experienced a rite of passage of sorts. I'd confronted a fear, and done a very "adult" thing that would hopefully benefit someone else. Would I do it again? Probably, but I'm in no rush.
In the meanwhile, I did what people do to celebrate a rite of passage. I took pictures.