There is a sense that time is expanding. This last year has felt like three. There has been a lengthening of the minutes, days stretching the way they do for children who spend every moment learning something new. So much has happened this year, too much for it to even seem possible that there should be enough time in one year for everything to occur.
My dad sent me one of my brother’s spelling tests in the mail. They only moved back to BC six months ago, but in that time James has gone from drawing scratchy, jagged letters to writing lower case letters within the appropriate lines, each letter uniform in size.
In that same amount of time, I was in treatment and then out, and then back in and then out. Before the year is out, I will be back in. I went to Scotland and Ireland, I spent two weeks in the hospital, and two more on dilaudid. I went to Chicago. I started Write Club with Catherine. I went to a conference, I met my co-author and got a book deal. I hosted six Raconteurs events, heard sixty stories. I started writing an essay for Little Brother. I fed and caught a feral cat, only to lose it. I found a kitten gave it to Colleen. I tried to teach myself to do cartwheels. That’s only half the year and it doesn’t touch of even close to all of it.
Talking to Sook-yin last night at Yuula’s party,I tell her I read recently someone speculating what the end of life is like, like, the time leading up to it, if time extends itself as it did when we were kids. I feel like that sometimes. She says, maybe it does, maybe that’s what happens when you’re in a situation where you’re forced to consider your life ending, even if it’s not immanent. You know there’s more to look at, so you’re making a point to look and it changes how you experience time.
I tell her about suddenly going off my anti-anxiety medications when I ran out of both at the same time, about how I waited a few days and how I was fine at first, but then lost all my coping skills. Everything was raw and overwhelming. Heightened. I realized that I still feel things in extreme without the drugs. The drugs turn the volume down. And it means it’s harder to experience moments of pure joy, but that’s not the worst because it’s also harder to feel the moments of devastation. It’s hard living with high-highs and low-lows because even the good feelings feel bad when you have no control over them. Sook-yin agrees. People don’t know that it hurts. It hurts when you feel things intensely. I know she is speaking from experience.
At the party, Yuula shows her landlord’s 8-year-old daughter her treasures. Bones, rocks, minerals, things that had fallen to earth, fossils older than the dinosaurs, feathers, teeth, shells, skulls, coral, laid out and grouped together. The daughter picks up a smooth pink stone shaped like an egg. I like this one, she says. Yuula says, you should take it. I was told that if you see something and really like it, then you are meant to have it and so you should take it. Most of my things came from friends who thought I should have them. I think you should have that rock.
Sook-yin talks about the theatre piece she’s working on. I talk about the essay I’m writing. I tell her I am struggling because I change my mind and my opinion and what I understand daily. I tell her I don’t know what I believe. She tells me to write that. Sook-yin says she worries the theatre piece will be a failure. I tell her that even if it is, it still counts as a personal success. Even if the audience hates it, you will have succeeded by not letting the fear of embarrassment stop your attempt. And if it is embarrassing and it’s an artistic failure, no one will even remember in a year. Or you’ll remember, but your emotional memory won’t be as sharp.
I’m starting yet another trial on the 27th. The last one, which we thought I was doing well on, wasn’t really doing much at all, it turned out. So I’m going on a MEK inhibitor, which targets my mutations plus something else that blocks insulin growth factor. Pills, mainly. I.V. every two weeks for half an hour. This is a neutral thing. It is neither good nor bad. It just is.