“I lived there once.”




An odd line of thought and conversation has been happening
lately. Mostly including the term “OkCupid.” …
Dating. What does dating look like in post-cancerland? Do
you tell people? Is it a first date thing, a second, an on-your-profile thing?
What does your profile look like, when you have just one or two accurate photos
of the new length of your hair, that despite the rave compliments and an honest
thank you, still feels weird to acknowledge? Does it “matter?” and yet how can it not?
Does it have relevance to the woman I am today, the woman I
may present to people I’m just meeting? I don’t tell people, usually, anymore.
Although, yesterday as I checked out my groceries at Trader Joes, the teller
was very taken with the “early Mia Farrow” ‘do, asking if it was the first time
I’d cut it like that, and I answered, Well, I didn’t really have a choice – I
lost it. He looked confused, and said laughingly, What, you mean it fell out?
And I said, with a smile, still playing the “up”ness of the interaction, Yes.
It fell out. It was quite an ordeal. And his smile fell off his face, as he
So, I don’t tell people. Why do that? But, isn’t it an
integral part of who I am, and what I’ve lived through in my life? Just as the
facts that I don’t drink or smoke anymore, that I’m from New Jersey, and that I lived
in Korea for two years? But it’s different. It’s differently weighted. I would put
on my profile that I don’t drink, I think I have in the past, or it usually
comes up at least in passing on a first date – if it’s a good one. What do you
reveal about yourself? What is relevant? And really, does and how does this mean something about me?
Is cancer part of who I am, or is it just a large desolate
city I drove through once, and remember, but didn’t take any souvenirs? Have
souvenirs hitch-hiked with me? Have I taken on bits of the town that color how
I continue to move forward? – Well, to that, the answer is certainly Yes (I am
not playing instruments, softball, or working out again because I thought they
were good ideas [they were good ideas pre-cancer] – I’m doing them because they have become “time is short”/carpe diem imperatives post-cancer).
So things about me are
different, but upon meeting someone new, do they need to know what made me that
way? Is cancer relevant, or are the actions it catalyzed? Is it a part of me,
or a part of my past? And if it’s a part of my past, how to integrate the fear
of its recurrence that will always be present in a degree of severity or
another? To explain that in the staff meeting at work when they report on the progress of another co-worker’s chemo, I have to repeat the mantra, This is not about me, this is not about me, as my heart freezes over with concrete. To have to stop watching one of my favorite t.v. shows because a character is now battling cancer. To have begun to put the gas to the floor board out of that shrieking town, and pretend I can’t see it in my rear-view anymore. 

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