I went out for dinner the other night with DH, his new colleagues and their spouses. They all knew about “my condition,” which was somewhat comforting when walking into a room with all new faces. At that moment, I was thankful for being spared from having to make the “big reveal.” I still haven’t figured out what my new tagline is. Before it was something like, red-headed-happy-go-lucky mommy of a two and half year old, lawyer, lover of healthy living, red wine, chocolate, and clothes. Now, I just feel flat, one dimensional. Cancer survivor. It’s hard to remember what came before that.
We had a private room at a lovely restaurant where I found myself surrounded by the spouses who were all very nice and welcoming. I can’t remember who asked or how the conversation started but we eventually wound up on cancer. Strange, I can’t ever remember a time when my casual conversations ended up on cancer. So, I told an abbreviated version of the wonderful life of cancer that we’ve been living, how I was diagnosed, how Little Man dealt with it, etc. The lights were dim and the talk was quiet and personal. Dinner was delicious. Telling my story between mouthfuls of buttery Mediterranean snapper that I dipped in artichoke heart composition en puree felt surreal. Whose story am I telling? Am I making this up? How do I know these details so intimately? It’s still so foreign to me even though this is my story. I lived it. I felt it. I dealt with it. Is this really my history? Was I over exaggerating? I wanted to be real and genuine with them, I wanted to tell the truth. But, the truth felt foreign, unbelievable, and certainly not mine. I just don’t know how you did it with a toddler? Neither did I. How did you guys get through it being so far away from family and people you know? I don’t know. I’m so glad you are ok now. I hope I am too. I don’t really know how to describe how we got through this hell.
Then, after all the cancer talk, there wasn’t much else for me to say. Everything I was before cancer didn’t seem to matter. Not that they weren’t interested or didn’t care. But, who has the energy to talk about anything after a cancer talk? Quite frankly, I don’t know what else to say. Having my personal narrative start after cancer feels jarring, like there was a hard stop that I’m still clumsily trying to finesse my way around. I don’t have a hook or angle. I’m missing my shtick. It doesn’t feel right to leave out this part of my story though. I don’t want to be defined by cancer but I don’t want it to be a secret either. I don’t want my relationships to be based on pity. She’s my friend who had cancer. I want them to based on honesty, openness. She’s my friend who had cancer. Either way, I want to be genuine and show my true self to the world. But, how will I find my way? Where do I start my narrative?
Give ’em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle ’em
And they’ll never catch wise!
Give ’em the old Razzle Dazzle