Old, New, and in Between

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Last week, I had to go to Columbia for a conference with my class.

It was the first time I had spent any significant amount of time there since everything happened. I had done quick trips to get my stuff, move apartments, and I think I had one quick visit with friends.

While we weren't on campus (or even anywhere near it) we did end up driving around areas that were familiar to me.

I am going to try to put into words what I felt, but unless you can directly relate, you may not understand all the emotions I had.

I felt like two different pieces of my life were crashing together. The old me was blending in with the new me, and it was weird.

It was weird, but it was also kind of sad. I have all these vivid, tangible memories of my time in Columbia, so driving around and seeing places I used to go and talking about roads I used to drive on all the time was sad. We drove by places my friends and I would go have dinner or go shopping, and I got so nostalgic for those memories that it hurt. It was like I almost couldn't believe that my old life existed until I was smack dab in the middle of it.

Things have changed there. My friends all graduated and are no longer there, and there are things I now don't recognize. It made me sad for all that I missed. I feel like that part of my old life was never really closed up. I was stolen away, but never got any closure there. It was hard to be in familiar areas, I am not going to lie. All of the places seemed so familiar that it felt like if I closed my eyes hard enough, I could be right back there. I recognized all the places, but I did not recognize my life.

On the other hand, I was there with my class and we did have a good time. I am thankful for the opportunity to create new memories in an old place. I think I will forever mourn what I lost, though. I miss what I had and I miss what I could have had there.

This got me thinking, too, about how when people ask me why I left USC or when I tell people I had cancer. They often reply with something like "I am so sorry" and I know that is coming with love and true sorrow (because hello...cancer at 20), but I am never quite sure how to reply. I sometimes say something like "I mean it is okay" (as if I need to make them feel better for what happened to me!),  but it is NOT. It is NOT okay that I had cancer. It is not okay that this happened to me. I am still not okay with it.

I don't know what the answer is there, because I don't know what else you say or what else I should say. I don't want people to stop asking though. PLEASE ask me. I fear that people think I don't like talking about it so they don't ask questions, but I am happy to talk about it. I am not ashamed or scared to talk about it. I am proud of my story and want to share.

I do struggle with talking about it, as I believe I have mentioned before. I do not want to only talk about cancer or talk about it too much. I do not want to make people uncomfortable (but also I spent a year being much more uncomfortable than you will be hearing me talk about it). I know most people cannot relate to cancer, but this is just a part of my life. Like people talk about graduations, vacations, even minor illnesses, I can talk about cancer. It is not super common, but that is all the more reason I want to talk about it!

I feel like my old life and my new life are so separate that I guess it is weird for me to have them come together.  It is still weird to me that all of the people I have met since I had cancer never knew me before and that those that have known me awhile knew the old me too. I  blogged here before about molding all these versions of myself into one semi-functioning person, and I guess I am still trying to do just that.

And because you need to laugh, always, no matter what, writing this post made me think of this quote from my favorite show, Modern Family. Although my circumstances are a bit different (and less fun) than living a double live, I wish I thrived on it a little bit more than I do, too :).
 “I wish I were one of those people who thrives on the danger of leading a double life. You know, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Hannah Montana.”- Phil Dunphy


I do not want to take away from the top of this post, but also want to thank you for all your continued love and support. I may not be in the trenches of cancer anymore, but I am still affected by it everyday, so I truly appreciate all the love and support you still send to me!