my parents couldn’t get pregnant. but they really wanted a baby. who doesn’t? screaming balls of flesh are joyous creatures, no? they were desperate. so my mom asked a friend to help her out. he did. she got pregnant with a baby who didn’t make it. i sometimes think about this would-be-older-sibling or would-be-replacement. i’m sure my mom does too. what would have become of that person?
anyway, then she got pregnant with me. lucky her!
i grew as most babies do, but also not. as i grew, cancer grew too. i was a cute little tyke up until i was four years old, and then they took my eye out and i got even cuter! you know how people love one-eyed cats because they seem so sweet and vulnerable? that was me. i was a one-eyed cat, and what i lacked in eyes, i gained in character. that’s what they always say (‘it builds character!’) and nobody believes it, but it’s true.
so i kept growing with this one eye and this character. my one little eye was pretty good at seeing. i imagine it thinking ‘alright, only one of me left, pressure’s on, better do this thing right!!’ and boy did it ever. i studied the world. i watched closely. friendships were torn apart over a stolen crayon (it was just a miscommunication)! one kid became the loser for the rest of primary school because he picked his nose and threw his findings on the floor (and got caught). i knew instantly when i had done something wrong. i could tell when my parents were happy together. i could tell when they weren’t.
i became this wise, observant little kid, and the teenaged years intensified everything, as they do. the studies became deeper, the analysis more meaningful, the data recorded. but the thing is, i was so busy studying my environment and the people who lived in it, that i didn’t have much time for me. when i think back on my youth, when i try to channel that little girl with one eye and lots of character, i come up with nothing. i draw a blank. i don’t know who that girl was. my child self is invisible to me. she’s a ghost.
when my dad died, everything changed. as it does. i was twenty years old. i took everything that i had learned about the world, all that wisdom, all those observations, and shoved it in the ‘n/a’ pile. i tore myself apart instead. i hid away in my tiny college dorm room and distracted myself with school work until the tears filled my whole body and refused to be contained for a minute longer. i looked for the ghost. i tried to find the point of it all. i cried myself to sleep most nights. the pain was unbearable. i told everyone i was fine. as you do. (don’t.)
i guess what i am trying to say is, things don’t turn out the way you expect. you don’t expect to have fertility problems with your partner, or to have a doctor sit you down and tell you your perfect four-year-old daughter has cancer. you don’t expect to answer your phone, and it’s your neighbor, and he’s telling you your dad died. you simply can’t anticipate the saber-toothed tiger around the corner. (and you wonder why i have anxiety!)
two and a half years ago, i wrote in this very blog ‘i’ve booked a flight to new zealand on tuesday. and i’m dreading it.’ it’s funny how one small thing can lead you down an entirely different path. what would the other paths have been like? if i hadn’t been homeless in queenstown that night, what would i have done the next day? which path would i have taken? i don’t care, because i want this one. i want this one where i wake up next to a large freckled thing who makes me feel special every day, where i go to a job i enjoy, with people who make me laugh. i want this one where i am flailing, where i have no idea what is around the corner, where anything could happen.
i know i have a billion alternative lives – i know this because i have them all mapped out in my journal – but i also like to think that, whatever i had done, whichever move i had made, would have somehow brought me here. i like to think this because it’s fun, but also because it makes sense. there is something about new zealand and the life i have created here that forces me to be a bit more me. (this is a probably a bad thing.) and, since i found out that i am now a new zealand resident (add that to the list of things i didn’t ever expect), there is going to be a lot more becoming me in this lifetime.