I don’t know, I felt like I should say something.
It’s my intention to maintain a steady presence in the BRCA/breast cancer ‘blogosphere’ (that absurd term) in pursuing this project, but things are/will a bit sporadic due to an impending major emotional breakdown.
This week I’m leaving England. Yep, this is the big one.
Packing up years of your life is an impossible process. I’ve got these great heavy bulging suitcases to drag across the ocean but everything inside them seems absurd.
And I’m tired of always leaving everywhere, of living my life in intervals of one year or less. So many suitcases, so many disposable things. Disposable friendships and connections too. Review of the past five years: Eight months in Oxford as a visiting student, two months in Brooklyn as an intern. Senior year at Vassar, two months teaching in Lancaster, Oxford for the year-long master’s. A year living with K in Shepherds Bush, like grownups, then six months on my own in a closet in Bayswater. That was supposed to last longer, being there, but I missed too much work from the chemo and couldn’t pay the rent.
It’s kind of like cancer evicted me from my life.
So for almost six months I’ve been living with K & his family in the countryside. It’s nice, but it’s not my home. Now I’m going ‘home,’ and that isn’t my home either. I don’t know what I’ll do, or how long I’ll stay.
I wasn’t supposed to return to America under these circumstances. I thought I’d finally be striking out in my proper place, in Ann Arbor, feeling purposeful in my Ph.D. and putting down roots somewhere, finally.
A nomadic existence doesn’t mix with illness. There isn’t any comfort in it; there isn’t any stability. An awful Heimweh — being homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. Sickness for a place I imagined I would have someday. With grownup things in it, like winter coats and spice racks.
Instead the only comfort and stability in my life came in the form of K, and now I’m leaving him too.
Here’s something I wasn’t expecting: the emotional upheaval of learning you have cancer it’s pretty awful, but it doesn’t hurt as much as a broken heart. It was one of the first things I thought when I was diagnosed, as I tried to measure my own response. Now I have to trade the cancer for the heartbreak.
And I keep thinking how apt are these lines from Mahler:
Die zwei blauen Augen
von meinem Schatz,
Die haben mich in die
weite Welt geschickt.
Da mußt ich Abschied nehmen vom allerliebsten Platz!
O Augen blau,
warum habt ihr mich angeblickt?
Nun hab’ ich ewig Leid und Grämen!
[The two blue eyes
of my darling
they sent me into the
I had to take my leave of this most-beloved place!
O blue eyes,
why did you gaze on me?
Now I have eternal sorrow and grief.]