In less than a week I am going in for surgery to remove a small bit of cancer. This news was discovered rather quickly and I scheduled the surgery as soon as possible after hearing. It’s skin cancer, which could mean very little, in the scheme of cancers and concern and the ratio of worry that I should expend on it. It’s still scary. There is still a process to go through and it will still have an impact on my life that will alter the way I do business from here on out.
For starters, I will never leave the house again without sunblock. Which might actually be a little too little, a little to late. But it will impact my children and my children’s children. It will impact my friends. It has already, I am happy to say. They will be much more sun sensible. Today was sunny and clear and beautiful. It was the first day in two weeks that I have actually gone outside under the sun. I had a most incredible day. I was lathered up in sunblock and so I only worried a great deal as opposed to completely catastrophising and hiding indoors or starting work on building my underground bunker.
I’ve started to consider what I might want from the Make-A-Wish foundation as well. But I don’t think they will deliver him. And I’ve even begun to explore the idea of doing something over the top in a thrill seeking capacity like maybe riding REALLY fast through Walmart on one of their motorized scooters, or maybe inviting a friend or three to play bumper scooters or capture the flag. Maybe I’ll just rent a very large RV and park it at Walmart, put up a sign that says “if the van’s a rockin’ don’t come knockin’ and buy a few mini-trampolines for my friends to jump on. You know wild and crazy stuff like that- Extreme. I think the high school social studies teacher from my high school on Long Island had that on his van come to think of it, way back when, high school teacher’s could be pedophiles and no one raised an eyebrow. Way back when we didn’t need sunblock and the students had a smoking lounge. There was probably a lounge for that long-haired hippie-like teacher too. Jeez, now if you want a smoke you actually have to walk off school property and the schools are mostly closed campuses. No wonder kids take to extremes and scream and threaten. I suppose it’s not all the violent video games, after all. It’s probably thrombosis from the walking or a nicotine withdrawal, God knows it’s not linked to twinkies ‘cause they took those away too. The kids these days need something to suffer on. They don’t have to wear Jane Fonda inspired leotards or Pat Benatar headbands. Now that was extreme.
I found myself looking at a cute little BMW convertible a nanosecond longer than I typically might. Wistfully, more than longingly. No one has loved a Toyota Corolla quite like I have. A few days ago, a green jaguar pulled into the parking lot at school, two cars beyond mine, as I spoke with wild-haired Fred, a colleague, about my generous parking job. The forest green jaguar pulled right in without a sound, making my parking job boast fall with a loud clunking thud. Now there’s a car I could enjoy, say on my way to some "extreme" event, or maybe not. Don’t know why that particular car thrills me, except for all the obvious reasons. I’m not much of a car person, but I do like me a nice little forest green jag. Classy. It wasn’t the ‘66 XJ13, or the ’74 XKE, but it was a looker just the same. But I’m just not interested in that as my EXTREME.
So I played softball this weekend. Y’know, with the guys. And some girls. And a dozen or so young-uns with loving, encouraging Dad’s that guided them into the game and let the little guys bat and run and play the outfield. (They have pretty decent Mom’s too but quite a few of them are competitive beasts and game night rivals, and while I would like to keep it clean and polite…competitive and beasts… are you hearing me?) It was a beautiful day. I realize it might be strange to say, but I think it was up there with the all time top 20 days of my life, give or take. From start to finish this was a spectacular day of the most calming and joyful proportions. And filled with all this love and support and encouragement. Nectar of the extremes.
Before the game, I got an offer for breakfast that I declined, because, well, I shared, “I have a game.” I stood a little taller. “Oh sorry I’m playing softball this afternoon.” I tried it on, saying it as though it was just an ordinary Sunday and I was playing softball. Because well, it could be just ordinary for that to happen, somewhere, to someone that isn't me, prior to now. I reveal that I am trying it on, because I have never played softball. And it feels pretty darn, maybe even, extremely nice to say. The softball game is actually an “extreme” for me. It becomes really extreme because not only am I putting myself out of my comfort zone, but I am entirely relaxed about it and not having more than a few, contained fears of ruining it for the team, striking out, not hitting quite hard enough and otherwise hoping there are some rocks on the field to crawl under.
Aside from the predictable, somewhat linear, course of aging, throwing in cancer, even a still thought to be not very serious form or two, puts things in perspective. Not being able to hit the ball hard seems like a very small worry. It is, however, the very type of worry so many of us suffer, like those poor thrombotic children that have to walk off campus for a smoke to relieve the stress of 3rd period phys ed, or seeing him with her near the locker, or not being invited to the party with the kids that you don’t really even like to begin with. All those wasted worries that keep us from trying, or joining, or doing something for fear of some extreme failure, that we won't recover from, or some extreme joy that we somehow imagine we don’t deserve or won’t get.
I hit the ball. Five whole times!!! I ran maybe not sooo fast but made it home 4 out of the 5 times. That aging thing is slowing down my reflexes a tad. I think I could have started my running a bit sooner after hitting, but I might have needed to let it all in each time I hit it. I understand now, after all of those little league and softball games when I sat and watched my children, why they should not look back after hitting it, but just run like a jaguar, or dance like Jagger toward first base. It was extremely fun. I didn’t squawk or whine or complain when they put me in the outfield, somewhere sort of toward right field. I got it. I’m a rookie. And there is that pleasure of being outside, with enough sunscreen to only slightly panic, on the field where balls never come, so you don’t ever have to pay full attention. The best part of playing quasi right field? We were in Gardiner, NY at Majestic Park. Ohhhh, about two minutes from the Skydive the Ranch headquarters or drop off point. Low flying planes, sky full of parachutes in a rainbow of brightness falling from the heavens all day. Extremely cool.
photo credit Thuy Bonagura
I was taking it in. I was thinking. It’s definitely still a thought. Maybe not between now and my surgery date, but maybe after my clearance date. Me and brightness falling from the heavens??? I’m definitely considering it. So it turns out I don’t really have a burning desire to do some extreme activity between now and next week. The reality is, I’m extremely happy right now. I am satisfied, and surrounded with the knowledge that I have done a great many things that I am proud of. That I have enjoyed and that I have seen through to the other side. I have incredible people in my life right now, more than a few. And sure, if someone pulled up and revved his engine and was ready, willing and available to knock my socks off, I would certainly have some more extreme fun, but being able to look back and smile, a bit sheepishly and wide open is pretty nice too.
I share a bit more lately. As I have been doing openly with the abundance of friends that seem to not mind my humor, or twisted perspective. I have been considering what I will miss most during recovery and what I would like to get in before I lose the opportunity. If the Make-A-Wish folk are listening, I would like very much to be kissed before next week. In that way that we kiss when we are young, or newly in love, and passionate about our kisses. When we grab each others faces to pull them closer to ours to really bring that wet kisser in. As though we are still afraid they might not return, we may not ever see them again. Or as though we were blinded by the last kiss and now we have to feel each others faces for identification. In visualizing this kiss I can’t help but imagine some awkward attempt that puts an eye out, or wipes the snot off someone, and so if the kiss doesn’t come I have others to look back on. I think I want my face to be seen and touched and grabbed before next week when there is the potential, post surgery for my remaining intact nostril to be sewn back on to the remaining cheek skin too tightly. When I might end up with a permanent stink-eyed snarl as opposed to the chronic snarl I often wear by choice, or deep and serious distraction.
Godspeed and quick recovery to me, I have to go to the batting cage, game on, gamine that I am. And then the kissing booth....I might as well throw in a pedicure, I've never done that either.