This was it.
Bridgeport. Busy, crowded, sometimes smoggy and smelly, sometimes wonderful. God, I love it. I don’t know why it appeals to me. It didn’t always, though.
Growing up in Riverview, I was used to quiet suburbs, farms and green pasture lands. Evening walks into town to visit the juice bar, or play at Dogwood Playland. Homework written under the shade of my parent’s apple tree. Homecooked meals (mine all vegetarian) and romps down to the shore to catch minnows and dig in the sand. You know, very family oriented, Key Lime Pie and feel good stuff.
Attending university in Sunset Valley wasn’t much different. True, it was a little more…modern than I was used to, and not as sleepy and slow paced, but it reminded me of home.
After my schooling was complete, I realised I was in a small jam. There was no place for me at County Care General Hospital back in Riverview, and Twinbrook Foundation Hospital wasn’t hiring. I begged and pleaded in Sunset Valley, after all, hadn’t I completed all of my training there? But no. The hospitals in the smaller cities needed fewer staff; I just wasn’t needed there.
Perhaps it was out of sympathy, but I was told to apply to Sacred Spleen Memorial Hospital in Bridgeport. I was torn.
Part of me was desperate. I needed a job. My parents had sacrificed a lot to put me through medical school, even with the scholarships I’d won. I wasn’t about to let them down.
The other part of me was almost horrified. Bridgeport…! Over-crowded, dirty, high crime rate, hustle-bustle Bridgeport. The kind of place my parents had warned me about while growing up.
It was distasteful, to be truthful, and I’d been hoping, as had my parents, that I’d be able to live closer to home. But people in big cities needed medical attention too.
If I was needed, I would go. I would follow my calling.
In the end, my application was accepted. And so began my move to Bridgeport.
It was a long trip. I arrived late at night. As much as I’d told myself I wouldn’t like it, I wouldn’t let myself be impressed by it, I had to admit, Bridgeport was lovely by night.
From the road I could see my new home. The building had been in the middle of renovations when I’d first seen it, accompanied by the rental agent, who assured me the work would be finished soon. Yeeeeeeeeeeah…finished…No matter, I told myself. It couldn’t possibly go on forever.
I’d rented a small furnished apartment. I’d been lucky to find one with a seperate bedroom and a decent bathroom. I’d almost been charmed by a studio apartment overlooking the ocean, when the tide came in and flooded the lobby. I was up to my ankles in water, while the flustered agent spluttered appologies and hustled me out to look at more properties. I the end, I chose the one without floods, cockroaches or rats, and thanked my lucky stars the elevator worked.
I was certainly thankful of this fact when I dragged my boxes and bags and suitcases into the building. After all, 18 flights of stairs was a bit much, especially this late at night.
I managed to wrestle my things up to my floor and unlock the door. Inside, I turned on the light and gave it a proper look around. Yes, it was somewhat decent. The furniture was in good condition, it was clean and neat, even if it was small, and it smelled of pine scented cleaner. A wave of homesickness washed over me, and I wished I was back in Riverview, job or no job.
I shook myself. Layla, I said, you came here to help people, and who cares where you live, you can always visit your parents on the holidays.
I could put up with it. Mom and dad didn’t raise me to be a complainer or a quiter, after all.
Even though it was after midnight, and I ached from the effort of pushing boxes and shoving suitcases in and out of the elvator and into the apartment, I was wired.
Despite myself, I was excited. Sacred Spleen Memorial Hospital was one of the best facilities, really top notch. I couldn’t wait to start work in the morning.
I stayed up awhile longer, reviewing my medical texts. I was going to be prepared for anything, I vowed.
My first day in Bridgeport, I was almost run over by no less than 3 taxis, a bicycle, and a Bwan Speedster. People pushed past as I ambled at my normal slow pace, and once I was told to move my ass or I’d have it handed to me. A raccoon stole my tofu dog at lunch, took a bite, then threw it back to me in disgust, my wallet was stolen, a car drenched me in muddy water, I lost my mail key, and a pidgeon pooped on me!
I wanted to cry.
Then I laughed. It couldn’t get much worse than this.
Time passed. Some days were rough, others, not so much. I still missed my parents, and from time to time, I craved smoothies from the juice bar and sweet apples from home. But I could have those when I went home to visit.
I began to really enjoy working at Sacred Spleen. My co-workers were the best, and my boss was really friendly.
I even began to like doing public vaccinations, for Bridgeport had a lovely park not far from the hospital where I was sent, armed with syringe and vaccine, and happy-face bandaids.
I noticed that I would be smiling to myself in the mornings as I gussied up. I couldn’t help it.
There was something about Bridgport. Filthy, smelly, move-your-ass Bridgeport. Hey-Layla-let’s-grab-a-drink-after-work Bridgeport.
Butterflies and picnics in the park Bridgeport.
The bad and the good.
It had won me over.
Even on the stressful days, I left work with a smile. My patients were great, and I always did my best for them. I could chat with them and joke and make them laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, after all.
Even the days I was stuck behind a desk, typing, filing, and filling out reports, I didn’t mind. All I had to do was take a look out the window. Rain or shine, the hospital grounds were immaculate and filled with beautiful flower beds. I was proud of Sacred Spleen, which did its best to provide a comfortable and beautiful place for patients to heal.
When I was homesick for fresh vegetables from home, I could always find Riverview produce at Mike’s Cornerstore.
This always meant delicious homecooked meals, almost as good as mom’s. I was becoming quite the chef, living on my own. I used to eat out a lot. I was often too busy to cook. But the Autumn Salad and Ratatouille I adored were never very tasty when eaten at the diner or bistro.
Learning to make them on my own was more satisfying. And delicious!
In my spare time I often had my co-workers over for dinner. I would even cook the meat they seemed to love with a passion.
Meat…blurk! Don’t ask me why, but I’ve never liked it. Even the smell of it makes me feel faint. Ah, the things one does for friendship, right?
In the end, I came to love Bridgeport. Even when it was loud, stinky, hazy, and full of rude people, thieving raccoons and disgusting pidgeons.
It was no Riverview, but it was nice in its own way.
It’s a start. I’m playing around with this. If you’re wondering why I chose this particular title, you won’t find that out for awhile, but trust me, I have a good reason.