I spent most of Wednesday night in the dark, staring out the window at cars sliding all over the street as they tried to make like the Little Engine that Could up the hill on Tuckerman Lane. I saw a Toyota Camry make it after a few tries. Ironically, a giant Ford pick-up truck did not fare so well. The mood was generalized, every-woman-for-herself chaos. The street lights were all out and drivers that weren’t abandoning their cars, were driving down the wrong side of the street trying to maneuver around an extra long Metro bus that sat stranded, smack in front of our house. The only thing missing was the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, charging up the street with banners flying to rape and plunder, or maybe direct traffic. I heard later that drivers were stranded for something like 13 hours on the GW Parkway and over 100 cars were simply abandoned.
I hate to say it, but I took some solace in all of this.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t *really* want anyone to suffer -- or god forbid freeze to death in their Audi -- but all of this chaos makes me feel less…alone. My life for the past year has increasingly felt like the aftermath of a natural disaster with all of the broken infrastructure, flattened neighborhoods and disrupted routine. (Although if you can attribute the lymphoma to the 8-diet–coke-a-day habit I consistently fed in college, then I guess it’s not so “natural”…but I digress.)
Monday marked chemo treatment number 10. 5/6 of the way there. 83% done. The initial flurry of activity around the diagnosis has died down. Cancer is no longer this shocking and novel thing. It’s just life, except that in the wake of my little personal earthquake, the landscape looks different. Over here I’ve learned that grapefruit juice (temporarily) gets the funky taste out of my mouth, that I’m good for about four hours until I become like an over-tired three year old that skipped naptime, and that even after I’ve turned down the 12th happy hour invitation in a row, my friends (god love them) still keep inviting me.
I have good days – like most of last week when I was in New York watching footage and writing scripts and feeling like Stella with her groove back. Then there are the other days. On those days it’s hard to remember that this is all temporary, that in six months I’ll be off shooting an interview or sipping a mimosa at brunch or lying on a beach somewhere, rocking a pixie cut and something resembling a normal energy level. On those days it feels like I might be cranky and lethargic and bald forever. On those days, I can kinda relate to the guy that I wrote about back in October, the one who held his arm like a wounded paw and yelled at the nurse that he didn’t want the shot. I hope that guy is somewhere having a frozen margarita right now.
That’s all to say I like the snowstorm because it kind of levels the playing field. For one day at least, we’re all in the same boat – just reacting, scrambling, invoking Plan B (or E, or F). It’s also a good reminder that feeling sorry for myself is a fruitless exercise. Shit happens. Life ebbs and flows. Sometimes, when you’re focused on getting home and popping open a bottle of wine and flipping on the TV to watch “American Idol”, the tires start sliding on your pick-up and you can’t make it up the hill and all of a sudden you’re walking home in a blizzard. I’m guessing it’s not as sucky as chemo, but still, it doesn’t sound fun.
In fact, at the moment I sat watching all of this unfold out the window, I was feeling very grateful that I wasn’t that guy (even with the ever present Drain-o taste in my mouth). And if I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that finding gratitude can carry you through a lot. Gratitude and snow angels. If you feel bad about life while you’re making a snow angel, you’re doing it wrong.
So thank god for snow, and for that guy at the post office (and the rest of the “everyday angels” I’ve met on this journey) and for grapefruit juice and for slowly getting my mojo back. It’s gonna be a process, but then that’s what that Toyota Camry was thinking about halfway up Tuckerman Lane -- and she made it.