Bacon! Surprisingly or not, turkey bacon just isn't as good as regular bacon. Oh well; I have both in my fridge. Things could be worse. November 24 and I am sitting on my veranda in a tank top. Listening to classical music and eating barbecue chicken pizza, I can't help but marvel at where I am and how I got here. Most importantly, I am alive. This time of year, late November/early December, is typically a strange and introspective time for me. Five years ago at this time, I was pretty much dying, and then two weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a sophomore in college, and I was so deluded. Depressed and sick, I honestly thought I was living the good life because I was working 40 hours a week and going to school. Independent! It still bothers me a little when I consider just how naive I was.
People grow and change over the course of five years; it is normal. I just can't believe how much my life has changed since I was 20. Honestly, how much my life has changed over the past year. It is the strangest thing, too: I have a public record of my feelings and thoughts each year for the past five years. I kept a cancer-blog pretty much from my date of diagnosis until earlier this year, and my posts from around Thanksgiving are eerie to reread. Last year, my writings reflect a serious discontent with my life. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing; I was still so lost and so uncertain about everything. Yet, somehow I powered through that depression and even more strangely, somehow I ended up in Denver, Colorado. One year ago, I had no idea I would be here right now, sitting outside wearing a tank top on Thanksgiving, watching people come home from a day skiing or snowboarding in the mountains. Literally: A lady just walked into my apartment building carrying her snowboard and a six pack of Fat Tire. I love Colorado.
True gratitude: this moment, right now. I am beyond thankful for this, for where my life has magically delivered me. Certainly, everything is still difficult; I'm still not working in a job I want to be, and it would be nice to be with my family today. But there are glimpses! Last night, I photographed my first concert in Denver for HeyReverb, the Denver Post's music website. I wasn't paid for it, but shoot, I am published and on the contributor's list for a Denver Post affiliate! My heart was a bit broken a week ago, but even since then, I can feel it healing, and I am grateful for what will one day be a solid friendship. Grateful to my family who, even if they didn't quite believe I'd be able to make it out here on my own working as a barista, have never stopped supporting me. I have lived here nearly seven months, and I am not going anywhere. Five years after my cancer diagnosis, I can say honestly and with no delusions that I am Healthy, capital "H." The cancer nonsense still isn't over; in fact, it's going to be a part of my life for a few more years than I expected (thanks, FaceTumor!). But it is no longer holding me back health-wise. I actually did Two pull-ups yesterday in addition to some halfhearted intervals. Thankfully, today is a rest day.
A strange thought occurred to me the other night as I was lying in bed, contemplating my next steps and whether or not anyone will ever actually want to date me... I realized that this is life: this is what it feels like to grow up and have experiences that normal people have, unrelated to cancer and fast-forwarded maturity. Having a cold and then it going completely away after a week; dating someone then it not working out; struggling to figure out how to pay all my bills without completely giving up delicious cheese. I hope I never grow up, but I am starting to feel more "adult," and I am okay with that. I have entered into the second half of my twenties, and I am pretty sure they are going to be a lot better than the first half. I am grateful and amazed to be alive to see and experience everything that comes my way. I am probably still pretty naive. There are a lot of things I know nothing about and many different types of pain I have yet to work through. But just because I look young (am young...) doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two about life, and it certainly doesn't mean I don't have a different perspective and my own survival techniques. I am grateful for that perspective. I am grateful for what the past five years have brought me, where they have led me to, where my life continues to go. In particular, the people who have come into my life and brought me more joy than I could have imagined. Friends are the best thing. Laughing, smiling, enjoying This Moment, Right Now. Thank you all for spending some time reading this, if you have. Thank you for humoring my ramblings. I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving, or finding something to enjoy about your Thanksgiving, even if it's only that tomorrow, it will be finished. Thank you, thank you thank you!! Fill your hearts with gratitude for what you've been given today. Mine is practically bursting with everything I've been given, filled with the knowledge that life is difficult and will always be in some way or another, but I am Alive to greet it all and continue to grow and most of all, continue to love.
Love from me, today.