|My friend Laura and me,|
North Fork of Long Island,
New Year's Day, 2010
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
T. S. Eliot
January 2, 2011: The day after my birthday. Attempting to decompress from a wonderful Christmas break -- 10 days -- before returning to work and facing a "procedure" on the 5th. The "procedure" is to remove what the doctors euphemistically -- and rather darkly -- refer to as a "mass" on my bladder. Happy New Year to me!
And happy birthday.
Such is life.
Well, we nevertheless spent a wonderful few days away: New York City for a couple of days, then the North Fork of Long Island where friends have a beautiful house, rather, a converted barn. Post-and-beam, multi-level, stone and wood and Oriental rugs and, on holiday weekends throughout the year, a houseful of the most interesting people: artists and musicians; documentary filmmakers and playwrights; lawyers, PR people, teachers, students.
It's good therapy on several fronts: first, while there is TV out there, we don't watch it. There is, if you want it, very limited contact with the "real" world. Cell phones notwithstanding. Instead, people walk, hike, bicycle, go to the beach, swim in the pool (oh, yeah, there's a pool), lend a hand cooking -- everyone pitches in -- and sitting around, talking. Very interesting people who are genuinely interested in each other. And out there, for some reason, I don't compare myself to everyone else, inevitably coming up short. Everyone just is...
There's a definite Zen vibe (as the kids say); our hostess is a Buddhist, as are several regular guests, and very often there's time carved out for sitting meditation. Judgement seems suspended. I'm a healthier person out there, somehow. And I try to bring some of that back with me, on the Long Island Expressway, crosstown and through the Holland Tunnel and on the NJ Turnpike where, inevitably around exit 7 and 8, traffic is backed up for NO reason! Hasn't anyone done a study on this phenomenon and determined how it can be eliminated? You're zipping along at 65 or 70 and suddenly it's a sea of red brake lights, miles of stalled traffic and then, around Exit 8A, 9... nothing! It all breaks up and traffic flows beautifully and all for NO REASON!
So you see, I need the...Zen vibe.
And facing this "procedure" (the details of which I'll spare you. Suffice to say they "go in" to remove the "mass", but they don't make an incision. Know what I mean? Imagine what you will.) Of course, the "C" word was mentioned briefly, but there's no sense projecting. Living in the moment.
Oddly enough it makes me feel grown up, somehow. Even having lost both my parents and, more recently, a half-sister, I still feel very much like some kid who's just graduated high school and is finding his way, groping around, fearful, unsure of and not entirely crazy about, himself. Just the notion that I might have this very serious disease... I mean, sure, I had a hernia a few years ago, had it repaired. I've had a couple of colonoscopies, the valium and sedation portions of which I really liked. But this. I've already decided I'm a "survivor" and will be called on to tell my story to groups of American Cancer Society volunteers, student nurses and civic groups. I will "beat this thing", which seems to be the rallying cry, all the while valiantly going to work, performing with my improv group and going to yoga class and the gym. Where people will look at me with admiration: "He's not well, anyone can see that, but he's here ALL the time, working out. God love him. I'd be home feeling sorry for myself, but not him!"
Brave little toaster.