I remember that night clearly. I was feeling strong and alive and full of possibility. I had decided to pull up stakes in San Francisco and relocate to New York and was making plans for an April move. I didn’t know it yet, but I was also just about to find out that the doc I produced, MINE, had been accepted to the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin. I also didn’t know that I had cancer and I definitely didn’t feel sick. I *felt* like the world was my oyster.
That guy from the bar turned out to be Charlie and here I am sitting on his couch in the apartment we share, waiting for Kricket to show up. Do you ever have those moments when you think “if someone had told me five years ago that I’d be (fill in the blank)….?” Well if you had told me when I stumbled into that bar, that two years later I’d be living with that guy in DC while he nursed me through chemo…well, I’m not really sure what. But I am pretty sure my reaction would have made for some great TV.
Flash forward a year after that, to exactly a year ago tonight. I am loving my new life in New York, really starting to put down roots and establish a community. MINE is fresh off of an Audience Award win at South by Southwest and a distribution deal, and we’re gearing up for a big theatrical premiere in New York the third Friday in January followed by a homecoming screening the following weekend in New Orleans. I think I know what’s important to me, I think I have it, and I can’t remember being happier. I am home for the holidays and visiting with my mom, excitedly telling her all about it. I am totally oblivious to the fact that two weeks later she will be gone, and that on the third Friday in January, instead of going to my big New York premiere, I will be standing with my sister giving her eulogy. Mostly I am totally oblivious to the fact that there is still so much I have left to tell her, ask her, dissect with her and that I’m running out of time.
Which brings me to now, on the day tailor made for reflecting back on the last year and trying to envision the one ahead. A lot has happened in the two years since I met Kricket, and her impending visit has me ruminating about life and destiny and serendipity and things like that. I’m living with the guy from that night, someone I didn’t even know existed two years before, when I didn’t know I was sick, didn’t know I would lose my mom, didn’t know I would need to be helped through that broken heart, the diseased blood. And I can’t help but think how amazing the universe is -- because while you can’t see what’s about to knock you down, you also can’t see what’s being put in place to help pick you back up and dust you off. And you can’t know when you first meet someone, or visit a new place, or eat a seemingly innocuous plate of nachos, what’s happening at that exact moment that's conspiring to bring you growth and expansion.
My life looks completely different than it did on December 31, 2009. In twelve short months, I’ve buried my mother, helped bring my niece into the world, and looked my own mortality in the face. I feel tired, nauseous and a little like I just survived a serious campaign of slash and burn. I also feel full of possibility and hope, and like I am starting to understand what really matters. My mom’s death has brought me even closer to my family and friends and taught me to hold the people I love tight and to never take a conversation, a meal, a moment with them for granted. Fighting cancer has deepened my sense of empathy, strengthened my voice and brought who I am -- and what I want -- into sharp relief. I feel like the world is my oyster.
So I can’t help but wonder, what’s happening right now, unbeknownst to me, that is opening the way for all kinds of beauty and wonder? What is this year’s version of that bar stool on Christmas Eve? What are the things that I’ll look at back at on December 31, 2011 and think, “If I’d known then…”