Once upon a time I thought all I had to do was get through chemo and figure out how to live without friends and lovers I’d loved and lost. I mean, that sounds like enough?
Look at this picture from May 2017. I was so sick and tired. So tired. I was a week out from my last IV chemo treatment and I’d just finished the 40+mile 5 Boros Ride in New York City on a borrowed 40-pound bike. I was no kind of warrior, no.
I finished the ride through all 5 NY boroughs (it’s amazing and you should totally do it), I leaned my bike against a tree, and was stumbling through hillocks of wet grass to what looked like a RAGBRAI beer garden — an area cordoned off with snow fence and full of tents of food and, what I desperately sought at that moment, picnic tables with plenty of open seats.
I met these folks on the way to the entrance of the fenced area and just had to have a picture. Martini helmets! My people! Asking a stranger to take a picture of me with more strangers isn’t something on my normal do list, but there is a certain boldness when you’re sick and completely out of fucks.
When I look at this picture, I feel a tremendous nostalgia. Oh, to only need now what I thought I needed then — just a little time to “get over it.” Just a few months of bike rides to get back to — LOL — “normal.”
It’s been impossible to get ahead of anything, really. It’s been three years — three years! — of headwinds. But also three years of clear scans, three years of unflagging support from family and friends, three years I still have a job when thousands of my colleagues were laid off. I’m still here and I know I’m lucky.
And now this picture. I was just as wet and rained-on in 2019 New York, but 2 years beyond that almost-indescribable exhaustion. Fatter, wiser, closer than ever to my East Coast 5-boro-riding sisters Rache (ONE DAY WE RIDE IT AT THE SAME TIME) and Brenda (ONE DAY WE GET ALL 5 TOGETHER).
The 2020 ride was cancelled, of course, though with NYC shut down, the streets have never been more amenable to bike rides. 2017, 2019, maybe 2021 should be my next attempt, eh? And what will I have learned by then? Will I long for how good I had it now?