Party foul

I said hello. That’s all. A simple hello to a stranger in a busy city transportation terminal. He was friendly so I didn’t think anything of it when he asked me to go with him. He said he knew a less crowded place where we could catch a taxi without all the competition. Okay, I said, my naiveté getting the better of me. I’ve always been way too trusting of strangers but never trusting enough of those I truly know. Moving from a bright and crowded locale where any bus or train or taxi could have whisked me away to any number of wonderful destinations but I instead listened to a voice that lured me elsewhere. I knew as I started to follow him that it was wrong. We chit-chatted about nothing important, a tactic he used to distract me from where he was really taking me. As the sky grew dark and the street lights turned on my legs grew heavier. My legs knew more than my brain at that point. Don’t follow him, Sarah. Go back to where it’s safe. But I didn’t know where I was. There were a few things that looked familiar to me, a house, a street sign, some lights in the distance, but it was too late. My back was hurting from making my legs work. Each step sent excruciating pain through my entire body. And just when I thought I couldn’t take another step I knew I needed to run. The stranger was leaving. Leaving me to die. I wonder if he got paid to betray me? And would he eventually feel guilty and hang himself for that betrayal? The black figures circled around me. Sniffing. Speaking to each other in a language I didn’t understand. They were dirty and ragged – apparently homeless. And I was in their world now. Their instincts outshone any survival skills I had. And as they closed in to rip me apart, I woke up in a cold sweat.

So what does that mess mean, friends? These are the kind of jacked up dreams I’m having. But on a lighter note, I’m thinking that if I never become a published author then I might like to be a tour guide.

I’m sure scanxiety is getting the better of me. I’m definitely one who can go with the flow but I have to admit that I’d like to know what’s coming up for Ben treatment wise. I have some friends who have to have every detail of every event nailed down but the world I’ve been living in makes no promises like staying on schedule. I’ve become a slave to the insecurity of it all. There’s nothing I can control except for how I react to it all. It’s clear from the dreams I’m having that I don’t feel safe or secure. But am I supposed to just lay down and succumb to it? That’s what I did in the dream. Maybe, after nine years, I feel like surrendering. But I don’t know what I’m surrendering to. I’m certainly not giving in to cancer taking my son.

So, back to this career path. I was at a party on July 4th up in Summit County with my friend, Miguel. The kids and I made a last minute decision (based on how Ben was feeling) to head up to the mountains to enjoy the day. If it weren’t for everything west of I-25 I would truly despise this state. I hate that I live in the plains. I hate that I’m not closer to the mountains. I hate Aurora. I know, hate is a strong word, but this place is not my Utopia. I miss Summit County. I miss the summers where it rains every afternoon and snows in July. I miss being able to cross-country ski out my back door. But, for now, Aurora is where I am. I’ll take day trips whenever possible.

Clearly, I’m having focus issues today. So I show up at this party with the kids. Miguel is already there. There are tons of kids for Ben and Mad to play with but they don’t know anyone yet. And Ben is bald. The other kids will have to adapt to that first. So, I started introducing them to kids I didn’t know and they quickly assimilated: playing ball, riding scooters, running around. As I looked around for Miguel I noticed that I knew quite a few people already from when I lived there in the 90’s. So, I jumped in the deep end, reminiscing about the good old days, when the inevitable question would come up: “So, what have you been up to?” Good God. Where to start? Last most of them knew I had just finished my MBA and was married to a Silverthorne Police Officer who was just accepted into the FBI. I looked really great on paper at that point in my life. So, I crammed 14 years into a brief paragraph. I got divorced. Got remarried, had two kids, got divorced again. I live in Aurora (to which most of them simply asked “WHY?”) and I don’t have a current occupation. I do nothing.

This was confounding to them. Nothing? You do nothing? That’s right. I do nothing. I’m not comfortable saying that I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m not in the traditional setting: no husband, no home to care for or remodel, no regular stuff to look forward to. I write on my little blog, I do picture framing on a very limited basis, I color in fancy coloring books until my fingers bleed and I read a lot. When my children are with me it’s a different story. There’s plenty of fun stuff there, but otherwise, I do nothing.

Where did that fancy MBA girl go? Why did she give up a life of adventure and divorce the FBI agent? I thought she’d set the world on fire. She still looks pretty good. Maybe could lose a few pounds, but we’re all in that boat, right? And why does she do nothing?

Then my little bald-headed kid runs up to me to ask for a hamburger and they all say “Ohhhhhhhhh.” I don’t know why I’m reluctant to immediately say “My kid has been battling cancer for nine years.”  Seems superficially like a pretty big party foul. But what I found out is that my old friends found a new appreciation for the super-cool cat they once knew. Life happens. And it didn’t take away who I am at the core – in fact – it’s made me better. I’m still fun and funny and smart and friendly and all the other things that make up Sarah. But I’m wiser. I’m more compassionate. And I showed them that you can have a kid with cancer AND still have a weird sense of humor.

There was one dude who was thrown off completely. He came to the conversation late and didn’t see my bald kid. When he asked what I did for a living, I amended my prior statement to “I take care of my sick child.” He has a weird sense of humor, too, and said, “Oh. So you have Munchausen’s? You just keep your kid sick so all the attention is on you?” His wife was furiously shaking her head in an effort to tell him to “shut the f*ck up” but I played along. “Sure!” I said. “Everyone’s gotta have a hobby, right?” I could see everyone cringe but I was laughing. My weird sense of humor allowed me to play along. Then I finally confessed and said, “Seriously, though, my son has cancer.” He started to apologize profusely and I stopped him immediately. I told him while the situation was indeed tragic, there was no reason that we couldn’t try to bring some levity to the situation. And the poor fella, once he got comfortable and spent considerable time with my son just chatting about life, he walked us all out to the car. Upon seeing my car, which is a 1999 Mercedes station wagon, he said “You must be doing well if you’re able to drive a car like this.” And I said, “My mother died. I inherited it.” He threw up his hands in total surrender and said he just didn’t think there’d be any other way to offend me as much as he had. I laughed and told him that I didn’t mean to be a downer but it is what it is. And I’m certainly not offended, but people’s situations aren’t what they might seem.

The girl driving the Mercedes didn’t earn it. It was a gift that her fancy mother left behind. She doesn’t do nothing. She cares for her chronically sick child. She’s overwhelmed. She’s tired. She’s scared. She’s vulnerable. But she’s brave. And funny. And smart. Ultimately, she’s aged gracefully. She’s maintained the wonderful pieces and added so much more.

Ick. I hate talking about myself in the third person.

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