I always forget that the sun is still up here. I forget until I glance a peek through the space in the clouds and there is blue, there is bright, there is the hint of warmth and light. I forget until I’m on a plane leaving SeaTac and it takes less than ten seconds to go from the drear of Seattle up through the heavy clouds and it’s pink and yellow as the sun hits the peaks and cones of wispy white and the sky above my city actually is clear and blue and empty and spacious. It always is above the clouds.
I’m in that space right now. We haven’t even been in the air fifteen minutes yet and I’m already soaring somewhere above halfway between Ellensburg and East Wenatchee. I’ve never been to East Wenatchee.
My computer tells me I have 2:11 left to write. This means, more realistically, I have about 1:45 or less. I know exactly what happens when I hit the :30 mark. Now my computer tells me I have 2:55. Fickle. Indecisive. The lady next to me is reading a Julie Garwood book. I used to shelve Julie Garwood books. I used to flush the spines for money and benefits. I still do this at home. My bookshelves are exquisitely straight and clean, always. My books are better than most anyone else’s books, and my mom was given a death sentence three months ago. I’m using her plane ticket this morning. She was supposed to visit me with this ticket, back before we found out. She gave it to me, and I’m visiting her instead.
I should be looking for a new job. I should be worried about how I’m going to pay my rent in November and December. How I’m going to pay my taxes in April (because that’s how I’m going to pay my rent in November and December.) I should be put together and responsible and successful and I should have meaningfully meaningless appointments this week, dates this weekend, shoe shopping and gardening and dinner parties with friends. What friends. I don’t even know. Men who liked me well enough until they decided they didn’t actually like me nearly enough and are suddenly no longer friends. Maybe they never were friends. Colleagues struggling with depression who need me constantly but don’t always remember that sometimes I need them too.
I don’t have the bandwidth to be these normal put together things and to be a daughter of Stage IV Serous Surface Papillary Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (“but we’ll just call it ovarian since it’s such a rare and unheard of cancer.”) I don’t know how to live a normal life like that while I fly back and forth, like a business person with meetings to attend, meetings with terminal illness. Hospitals. Doctors. Dunkin Donuts coffee and garage sales and tears and god damn test results.
Don’t you start crying on this plane, Amelia.
“Hey, I was wondering…” My roommate says to me this morning as she’s driving me to the airport. There’s so little traffic that early on I-5 through Seattle it’s almost a different city entirely. “If you’re not back in town yet when Mal visits later this month, can she stay in your room if I wash your sheets?”
“Yeah.” I say. “Yes, of course. I won’t be back yet when she’s in town. The sheets are clean though. I just changed them yesterday. But the duvet cover…”
She glances over at me and I say a little boldly, maybe boldly to disguise some diffidence, “That needs to be washed.” It’s morning in Idaho, but I can’t see Idaho. Just clouds forever. I was supposed to fly yesterday; I told him I wouldn’t write about it here and I won’t, but there’s a reason I’m flying today instead.
I’m on my bicycle, cutting tight circular patterns into the asphalt, so tight one more fraction of an inch leaning in would be impossible to balance and topple me over to the dirt and grit of torn skin. Circles turn to figure eights. I’m dizzy. And I can see and feel each crack, each hole, each tuft of grass and weeds pushing through the broken pavement. I’m learning the bumps, expecting them, lost in the daze of the spin of it but focused completely and intensely on what I’m doing. I grew up in the house on the corner where two streets meet at a T. The space provided at that intersection was perfectly sized for hours of cumulative figure eight turns on my bicycle. I’m not moving forward right now. I want to move forward. I want love and money and success and new friendships. But moving forward may mean moving forward without her. Long work days and meetings and the busy-ness of life and then, one day, the phone call and The Regret. So I’m stuck, I’m spinning, I’m feeling this place, this year, this time of my life when I’ve been given a second chance as she’s fighting so desperately hard to get one too and I’m incapable of pulling myself out of it. I need someone who wants to pull me out of it, or everyone needs to let me continue as I am.
It’s a clear and beautiful day up here, Bozeman.
Wolf was my rebound from Death. I know this now. If he were to mysteriously, magically, miraculously decide to come back for me on his sailboat, I’d have to say no. Perhaps he could woo me with his charm. I’ve discovered a new anger for having something to dream about and then being left with even less hope than before. I’m already struggling my way through a difficult year where hope has been painfully stripped from me over and over and over and over. Maybe I do want to sail the world with a sailor. Maybe I do want to build a house, a little touch of paint on my cheeks, a wry and mischievous grin on my face, my hair in braids. I don’t braid my hair, but I could start. Maybe I do want to stop fighting my nomadic tendencies and adventure with someone special or settle down with someone nice. “I have no doubt that you’ll meet someone in the next few weeks who will make you smile. He’ll make you smile so much you might not even recognize yourself.” Matthew’s words to me days before I almost died. Days before I met a sailor named Wolf. Weeks before I met another sailor named Thoreau. Words to me before I met all the men I haven’t yet met, all the men who may or may not want to be the person who will love me.
I mean love me. No. I mean love me. Mean what you say or push off. That’s my new motto. That’s what I deserve after a year like the one I’ve had.
I thought I was going to get married this year. He lied to me. I kissed him at midnight on New Year’s as fireworks exploded above the Space Needle a few blocks north of the Belltown roof where we stood shivering in each others arms. He lied to me and I don’t talk about it because somehow his lies make me the flawed one. How can I ever trust anyone again? Everyone lies and everyone dies and everyone else gets married and everyone else falls in love. I fly back and forth. The business of death and loneliness.
I’m going to drive to Absarokee one day. I’m looking at it on this digital map as I’m flying over the thin, weak veil of clouds covering it. Why not? Maybe somebody will want to drive there with me. But maybe not. I’m not Elizabeth. I’m Jane. I don’t need a Darcy. I don’t need to be saved or completed. But I would like to have someone who thinks of me first, often, most and last.
I didn’t get married this year. I fell out of love. No, I didn’t fall. I was pushed out of love. I clawed my way back up to the normal, I fought my way quietly, alone, ashamed back to being out of love. I met an extensive metastasized abdominal beast we so easily call cancer this year. I met doctors who don’t give a shit about the people suffering behind the dollar signs of their weighty padded paychecks. I survived my own horrible unexpected near death experience this year. I watched as people watched me die. They watched me struggle and fight because I didn’t want to die and they did absolutely nothing to help. I was their unexpected entertainment. How many people did they tell about what they saw? How did they write themselves into that story? Not the cowards they were, I’m certain. Everybody lies and everybody dies. This is normal.
The enormous gradient blue out there hanging over Canada is in my blindspot. I’m halfway home. I still call it home, but it hasn’t been home for years. Wyoming below my feet as I passively navigate the space above these eight states this morning. Figure eight states. I’m exploring the bumps in this road. The tufts of clouds as they push up through the broken cracks below.