Let's get one thing straight. I wasn't supposed to make it to 17, let alone, well, now. I admit, right now, to anxiety about typing my actual age. People have all kinds of bullshit biases, and age discrimination exists...
But that's kind of my point.
If you'd met me at 16, you wouldn't have bet on me to make it to my next birthday. I was an early adopter of anorexia, so early that smart people, including my doctor, assumed that I had cancer, not "Ana." Once, when I weighed 74 pounds, I got on the bus, and the driver refused to take my full fare. He thought I was a 10-year-old boy. At the time, I thought that was so cool.
Thanks to the love and care of many many people, and my own hard work, I stopped starving myself. Peggy Phelan, wherever you are: thank you. Mrs. Gershon, you giant life-saving pain in the ass: thank you. Mrs. Fine, sorry for all the Kleenex, and thanks for telling me about Reuben sandwiches.
And my family. My family. I am sorry, and thank you.
People use the term "recovering" in 12 step programs, and I agree. The brain/heart/healthy practices stuff--I think that's a lifetime gig.
And for many years, and even now, I am often amazed that I am alive. That I passed through the valley of death and made it out. I am a cheerful non-believer, but I am happy to call the fact that I lived a miracle.
So...here I am. Many pounds heavier. Alive as all get out. Middle-aged. Middle. Frakking. Aged.
Or: two years younger than my dad was when he developed terminal brain cancer.
So lately I've begun to shift a little more from: "Holy hell, I actually am ALIVE..." to "How would I live if I knew I only had two years left before I developed cancer, like my dad?" And not the "dilettante cancer" as my late friend David Rakoff called it. The kind of cancer that has, in the 30 years since Dad had it, had NO signficant improvement in its survival rates. No cure, in other words.
P.S., At the time my dad was diagnosed, he was the poster child for living large and in the moment. Why? That's a post for another time.
Meanwhile, I want to gently, firmly, begin to imbed the "2 Years Left" question into my life, into my actions, into my (cheerful atheist) spirit. What does "2 Years Left" look like to me?
Today, it looks like: clean up my apartment. Send a postcard. Consider a new temporary color for my hair.
No skydiving. I could die.