Tick-tocks and time warps (And, how I almost kissed a stranger)

How can it possibly be September 19th? And also, how can it possibly be only 7pm? The days fly by; the nights tick…tock like, well, I suppose like some days did while I was still off work. Lots of hours to sit and hold my breath on the couch. These days, I am trying to establish a more dynamic rhythm. Incorporate movement into my hours in the house. Back to cleaning routines. Back to attacking the ever-growing laundry mountain. Back to homework routines, bedtime routines, morning madness, lunch-making. Back to Friday night movie night and Saturday sleep-ins. There is huge comfort in familiar routine, and in the ability to manage these routines with energy that was significantly absent a year ago. Now if I can just get myself out walking again. All of these things take time. There are days when I push myself a little too hard, and I feel it. One day during week two, the full week back at work, I had an appointment at 9:30 in the morning, and so I figured I’d just go to work early once it was done. This meant I arrived a good hour and a half early. I followed that up with coaching soccer until 4pm, in a t-shirt in 11 degree weather. Normally I would have laughed it off and said man that was cold and gotten on with my evening. That night, my boys went off to their dad’s for dinner, I had a hot bath and thought I’d close my eyes for a few minutes. Two hours later I woke up, startled, out of such a deep sleep that I actually thought it was almost 7 in the morning and I had missed my alarm. After jumping out of bed and frantically trying to figure out where I was, what day it was and whether or not I needed to wake the kids (who weren’t there) up, the self-talk that followed went something like this: Self, you are working half-time for a reason. Stop going to work early. You don’t even know what planet you’re on you’re so tired.

This past week I have been very obedient, and have substituted early morning meetings and early-to-work with mid-morning naps and an extra cup of coffee. And I’m bringing a jacket to soccer practise, because it would appear that we may be skipping fall entirely and just heading straight into winter this year. And, at times like these, when I think about the changing of the seasons, I realize I’ve gotten to see them one more time. Last year, I didn’t know if I’d be here to see the fall. This year, I don’t know if I’ll be here to see next fall. But I do know that I made it through this year, and now the possibility of making it through the next one seems like more of a possibility. And every year when that happens, the next will seem more likely. But enough about that.

On a very much lighter note, about how I almost kissed a stranger last week.

I was standing in line at the grocery store and a woman tapped me on the arm and uttered the most beautiful words I have heard in a very long time.

I’m sorry to bother you. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but… (and here I poise myself, ready for the cancer questions. Could she give my name to her friend, sister, mother, someone else who has cancer? Was I the one who wrote the cancer articles in the paper? It had to be something like that coming.)

Nope. This lovely creature said nothing about cancer. She had no idea I had had chemotherapy, or that I was wearing prosthetics. Or that for over a year and a half I have hated mirrors. Or that I haven’t felt that bald feeling lift, even though I’m no longer bald.

Can I ask you who cuts your hair? It makes me want to cut mine off it’s so cute!

These were the words she so innocently said to me. Of course out of my mouth came all sorts of oh-my-god-you-have-no-idea-what-that-means-to-me, and explanations for the excess curliness, and blatherings-on about how much I have hated my hair since chemo. The poor woman probably wanted to turn and run away. But she actually wanted to know who cut my hair. And she didn’t know by looking at me that I am recovering from cancer treatment, and recent surgeries, or that I don’t sleep at night. She didn’t think it looked okay all things considered. She had no back story. And I almost embraced this woman in the line at the grocery store, because she made me feel transformed.

She just thought I had great hair.

The good hair day deserved a selfie.

The good hair day deserved a selfie.

If I really believed I’d turned that corner into looking like a normal person, I probably would have just said thank you, that’s so nice, and told her who  my hairdresser was. I wouldn’t have felt compelled to vomit my entire story out on her. But it is awfully nice to know that I have reached a point where someone thinks I have chosen to look like this. Perhaps next time some stranger says something, I will leave it at thank you, tell them who my hairdresser is, and walk away, leaving behind me the illusion that I’m just some normal, non-cancery girl with great hair. How wonderful would that be?


4 thoughts on “Tick-tocks and time warps (And, how I almost kissed a stranger)

  1. I love it Tanya. Very timely since I had my first trim this week. It is hard to think people might look at me and not actually see me as a cancer patient, Just someone who chose to cut their hair *very* short. For 360 days my life has revolved around cancer. It’s an adjustment moving on from that. It encompassed my whole world.
    And hair is such a huge part of me. I didn’t realize it until it was gone.
    I can see why you almost kissed a stranger.

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