My life has become a collection of moments, each more surreal than the last.
The past few weeks have been exhilarating. I found myself back at John Wayne airport. Orange County served as home for a short while. I reconnected with friends that are on a constant quest to become the people they’ve read about in history books. With them diagnoses are spoken of with a sense of carelessness and stories are told, each more fascinating than the last.
Again, I was in the presence of a dear companion. We have practically grown into the title of activist together. We share stories of our first gala. Our first time lobbying. Our first experience public speaking. Our first interview. Our first time being published. I have watched us go from being timid children to young adults who can manage websites and campaigns. Civil discourse has become part of daily life. With her I can speak of the strangest parts of this experience and she doesn’t give me as much as a confused glance.
Despite the normalcy of it all in California, back home I’ve realized that situations like my own are recipe for an atypical adolescence. Both the illness and the activism have brought me experiences and friendships that I could have never imagined. The things I have survived have intertwined themselves with strange memories. Somehow the good and the bad have become one to the point where it is impossible to give these occurrences labels. They come in flashes;
Lawn chair talks. Crying on tiled floors. Standing up in a crowded auditorium. Waking to bruises. Seeing my name in print. Sipping water backstage. Funerals for children. A guard outside a greenroom door. Trying to learn when I was too ill for school. Watching lights from a balcony. Christmas eve-eve-eve with sick kids. Letters from people I admire. Syringes with stinging solution. Cameras on my face. Morbid jokes. Preparing for auditions with decaf coffee. Wearing a twenty dollar dress to a fashion premiere. Palliative care.
I think this is the reason why I search for extremes. I have experienced no strife like feeling as if my life is over before it has begun, but I have also had the pleasure of living experiences that make such marvelous stories. There has been so much on both ends– some things I don’t feel right even speaking of, as if it will somehow taint the wonder to put it on paper. I once watched myself work ceaselessly to do before my time ran out. I was so convinced that the future was something that didn’t await people like me. Now however, I watch it all unfold. The present has everything to do with my past. Each part is woven together by words of advice said to me by grieving parents and entertainers alike.
It is impossible to say that I’ve only taken away from experiences labelled happy and good when everything in my life is the result of another. As much grief as it has caused me, I’m glad that out of everyone I have had the opportunity to see these things.