What is NOT Cancer 5

Spending 15 hours organizing, packing, deciding, dividing, throwing away, and this is WITH a crew of professional packers from the moving company.

Having a packer tell me that an unnamed celebrity’s kitchen was the size of our whole apartment and took four days to pack, but that I have more actual cooking gear. Only in New York do packers know the linen closet secrets of dozens of marquee names.

Finding homes for the last of the plants, the sleeper-sofa we can’t bear to look at any longer, the “junk” bike that hasn’t been ridden in 10 years, and the famous (on Facebook) Nibbles, the hamster who was lost, found, survived the jaws of our cat, died, lived again and escaped homelessness at least twice. Nibbles will now live with dear friends and their three kids in a beautiful DUMBO loft with views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Score one for Nibbles. Godspeed, dear rodent.

Sitting in a friend’s house near dawn after we’ve closed the door on our apartment for the last time, looking at the backs of a row of brownstones on the next block north. Realizing that, even though we never lived in this neighborhood, I know who lives in at least three of these houses. We’ve been in Brooklyn nine years, longer than anywhere else except our childhood homes.

Too many goodbyes, too many lumps in the throat, too many hugs, too many protestations that, “We’ve moved 10 times in 20 years. We’re good at keeping in touch. This is just ’till next time.’ Come visit in San Francisco. That’s an open invitation. Really.”

Getting in the car this morning, driving west through the Lincoln Tunnel with two kids (daughter and pal), the dog and too much stuff. Will we ever learn to pack light?

Spending the next two weeks driving west on I-80, seeking new roadside stands and new embarrassing attractions, blogging when I can.

Every mile will bring me that much closer to San Francisco, to my first appointment with the surgeon at UCSF, and to surgery on that left breast. But for now, we’re doing our own reprise of “Vacation.” We promise not to strap Grandma on the roof.

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About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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