A Place To Call Home: Five Days Of Treatment, Two Nights Solo Camping On The Coast Of California, and One Book
Starting something is always the hardest part. Even just between that first sentence and this one, I picked up my phone and stared at it like we had a very important meeting at 1:54pm (we definitely did not). So, just to be safe I cleared enough space around me where I'd have to actually get up to post pone these thoughts of mine.
Besides, what I want to share here is something I am very excited about. It's the give and take, push and pull, organized and messy, curious and reluctant, indecisive and adventurous. It's me, and the great many ways in which I change from day to day. Maybe, the very reason why I have had such a hard time sitting down and not just sharing with you my thoughts on places, people, activities, and moments that I hold so close, but showing you, makes it all a little too real. Plus, I'm terrified that I won't do any of it justice. In my mind, it's perfect, but when I go to explain something to someone or try to tell them just how much it (in this case, 'it' could mean a person, place, moment...you get the idea) means to me, my mind goes blank and I feel that I have fallen short of the magic of it all.
How can I possibly recreate the feelings, sounds, sights, smells, and emotions for you in such a way that you'll feel as if you too were there?
Is so you can see just how important it is to keep seeking the moments that make your face hurt from smiling and eyes glisten with ideas, determination, and curiosity. To keep exploring, taking chances, changing direction, leaping ahead, falling back, trusting when you feel like you can't trust anymore, to love big even when the fear swallows you whole, and to take all of this and make it your home.
These moments of ours, they're here and then they're not, and our greatest life can be lived in a matter of five minutes. You see, we can take action towards our best life now, no matter the results of that blood work or outcome of your latest treatment - only you get to decide how you wish to hold onto the moments you've lived, the ones you haven't, and what you'll do with the one you're in right now.
Loss, anger, frustration, pain, lack of motivation, and that general "blah" feeling, they are all part of it, but they do not get to determine who you are or how you ultimately live this life. So give yourself room for all of it, because the all of it is what makes us human.
Chronic Illness or no Chronic Illness, we're in this together.
So, where do I dive in?
Will it be at my decision have a port placed, the moment that I realized that in order to heal, both mentally and physically, I need to be my own best advocate for my health and goals, or the packing of bags, hanging of twinkly lights, and finishing of a book my grandfather wrote? A book that changed the course of this trip quite drastically.
Or why not dive in right now?
After all, now is when I'm writing this post and now is when much of this is and the importance of the post is coming to light. So, let's take a look at today. It started off with an aching stomach, but was comforted when I rolled over and found my dog curled up snoring, as loud as ever. I stayed in bed awhile, hands placed mindfully on my stomach, doing my best to ease the discomfort I was feeling. By this time, Adam was up getting himself some coffee. I had IV's at 8:30 am, which gave me less than an hour to eat and get ready, slimming the chances of me being on time; I drowsily stumbled into my office, the light streaming in waking me up just ever so slightly, making the packing of books, computer, and whatever else I might need to keep me busy while I receive fluids a little bit easier.
It's 8:27am and I'm out the door, which gives me 3 minutes to get to the clinic that is 10 minutes away. Which turns out, is not possible!
Once I apologize for being late, nestle into my chair, wrap myself in a blanket, and am hooked up to what will be my 8th IV under the PK Protocol, I get out my computer to work a little, but find that my head is begging me to rest, so I listen. Eyes closed, I find that my mind wanders to this blog post and the adventure behind it...
I have a hard time finishing things, whether it be a book, TV show, project, idea, or even thought. I know this, but it wasn't until recently that I said it aloud. That I walked with myself along the headlands between the town of Mendocino and Pacific Ocean, clutching the pages of a book my grandpa (or rather, Bob, which is what his grandchildren have always called him) wrote, wondering what it would be like to finish something like this, and why I have such a hard time seeing this kind of accomplishment in my future.
Was it because my grades never matched up to my efforts?
Or was it my inability to work full time, be financially independent, stay in school, or keep myself away from the ER after panic attacks, seizures, black outs, and moments so dark I still have a hard time facing them, let alone letting them go?
Hand shielding my eyes from the sun, I look out over the blue nothingness that makes up this magnificent ocean as I begin to list off the above, forgiving myself for the things I still hold onto, the decisions I've made or failed to make, and the unique and often times terrifying way this life of mine has unfolded. The result? I am truly lucky...
Lucky to have these moments to look back on, and lucky to feel strong enough to share this moment with myself.
Lucky to be afraid of what the future holds while being wrapped in the humbleness of this one.
Lucky to be receiving treatment and answers to why I feel this way, reminding myself that the happiness and fulfillment part, that's up to me, Lyme or no Lyme.
I take a step forward, the world around me lights up with wildflowers, everything from the vibrant red of the Indian Paintbrush to the warm yellow of the California Poppy. The grass rattles in the wind, sending what looks like a vibration through each blade until it dips over the edge of the headlands, as if, and not unlike myself, unable to resist the pull of the ocean.
Little Blue smells of fresh coffee and warmth as I make the bed, methodically putting everything back in their corners, bags, and baskets. As I do this, I notice that I'm moving more slowly, giving up my normal but-I-can't-waste-any-time mentally.
This, this is why I'm here.
I open Bob's book, flipping through the pages, noticing just how much joy it brings me to be here, walking the very same route along the headlands that the main character in the book did back in the late 1800's. Next to the book there is a list of places that I must visit: a lighthouse, old shipping yard, historical landmarks, homes of early settlers, a valley so flat you can hardly believe it's real, and roads that wind their way along the coast so fiercely it's easy to imagine how one might get lost or go over the edge, especially when the fog rolls in. All these are places that make up the richness in these chapters.
This place, it's called Mendocino, and it's where my grandparents decided to raise my mom and uncle. Not only that, but it's where I contracted Lyme Disease over 15 years ago. Crazy, just crazy. As I make my way into town, windows down, salty air brushing up against my face, I think about my time in San Francisco, walking to and from treatment each day, feet weighted down with fatigue but mind eager to keep looking around the next brightly painted home, carefully crafted succulent garden, and bumpy relentless incline.
During my free time, I would either seek out the ocean front, digging my feet deep into the sand as the waves try to wash me away, or the nearest park, as Little Blue doesn't have air conditioning and much prefers country driving to city driving (ok, that's my preference not my car's). I would walk, just walk, with my camera in hand and blanket in the other, waiting for the sun to be swallowed up by the ocean. Once the evening hue took over the dramatic coastal landscape, sending beams of pink and blue over the city, I'd venture back to the little apartment I was staying at, thanks to a dear friend from back in my glorious days of being an Island child.
In this place, full of movement, color, and sound, I am able to find a home within myself. A place where I can feel safe and strong, knowing that no matter what happens, I've got my back. What about the next move? Well, that's up to my gut and the little camping spot reserved for me about 4 hours north of the city, which is where I last left you, making my way into town to explore the wooden boardwalks, bookstores, and historical landmarks of Mendocino.
This full circle thing I'm feeling, no longer does it scare me. Yes, when I first thought about telling my 8 year old self that in a little over 16 years I would be back to receive more rounds of treatment on the very coast that you first suffered from that awful migraine, I wanted to burst into tears and scramble up, down - anywhere that was not here so I could skip over this reality of mine and somehow land myself in another one. One that doesn't involve a bacterial takeover of my body.
But this is my reality. This is where I'm at and I'm ready to not let it scare me. To face my 8 year old self and say, "it may not seem like it now, but everything will be ok, and you are so much stronger than you think." To stop chasing this idea that I always need to be doing more, making more, getting jobs, writing books, accomplishing this, crossing off that, and pushing, pushing, pushing until I'm left in that same defeated place. No, I want to be here, with my family and those that I love, exploring, writing for me, observing wildflowers, letting the salt spray soak into my skin, feeling the tingle in my fingers after they lose feeling from the cold.
I want to stop running and see that the home that I'm looking for, it's here.
and I wouldn't have wanted to discover it any other way.