Three Extra Years

Yesterday marked the anniversary of my arrival in the ER in Chicago for what we’d later find out was severe DKA. My blood sugar was riding at about 860 (normal is 80). I don’t remember must of this, as I was unconscious for the first 12 hours or so. A few things bleed through (someone asking me what day it was, discovering I had a catheter in was allowed to just pee in bed [this took some convincing on Jenn’s part], being moved from one bed to another and wheeled into an elevator).

Oddly enough, this month also mark’s J’s one year cancer-free anniversary. So last night we went out to Pasha Grill, where we’re quickly becoming regulars. We also stopped in and had a proper ring fitting at the jewelry store across the way. Due to the wackiness that is the publishing industry, I’ll be getting a reasonable infusion of cash later this year. We’d only been putting off the inevitable for monetary reasons, and it looks like those are going to go away here pretty soon.

I feel immeasurably proud that book money has let me do things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, particularly because I was in such seriously bad shape the year before I sold the book. You don’t always get everything you wanted – who doesn’t want a six figure book contract and the ability to publish before they’re 30? It would have been nice.

But I got *enough.* I got what I needed, and hopefully things will turn around pretty quickly and I can start building a future with short bursts of book money. That would be pretty sweet.

In any case, there is this thing that happens to you when you stare death in the face. Or, at least, it happened to me – and to J to some extent, tho he was always a far nicer person than me.

I wanted to start building toward things instead of running away from them. I ran all around the world. I ran away and away and away. But, you know, I can’t run away from myself. At some point I had to turn around and go, “I’m a selfish asshole and a coward and I want to change that.” I wasn’t a great person. I hated what I’d become when the shit hit the fan. I didn’t want to be that person anymore.

And it’s been a long journey, trying to get better. Trying to get my priorities straight now that I get all these extra years of life. I’ve been ready for adult things for awhile now. Ready to build some wealth, buy a house, build a career. I’ve been doing all those things. But what I realized along the way was that my desire for a partner hadn’t really gone away. I still wanted a best friend, a buddy, to have adventures with. I just wasn’t adult enough to take care of myself – let alone somebody else. You’re never going to find the right person if you’re the one who’s not right.

90% of everything is timing.

J. and I met a few months after he’d finished radiation therapy. I’d been single for about a year and had stopped seriously looking. We met for dinner because I thought he was terribly funny… and I wanted to talk to somebody else who’d stared death in the face.

Cancer had changed him, just like t1 changed me. He’d become less of a doormat, and I’d become less of a cruel-hearted harpy. We both still lean toward our defaults, which means that when we’re together, we balance out pretty well. Love is all very well and good when it comes to relationships. I’ve loved people. I’ve had people love me. But… what’s the quote? I read a quote from someone that said “real” love is when two people who’ve been heartbroken and know what they’re getting into… get into it anyway. It’s the courage love, not necessarily the screaming teenager love, where it’s the first time you’ve ever felt this way and OMG if we aren’t together we’ll DIE!!

It’s the same love, really, just made even more polished by the heat of heartache. I don’t think I could have even walked into a jewelry shop and sized rings with *anybody* before having my heart broken. I’m surprised it took so many years to really, truly, get my heartbroken. But then, I’d spent years avoiding real attachment. It wasn’t until after I got sick and went through the Jenn craziness that I realized all my walls – though vital to not getting hurt – weren’t getting me what I wanted.

I needed some serious heartbreak.

Now I know what I’m getting into. And I’m jumping anyway. I like this future we’re building. I like my life this way.

Will there be more heart ache? Probably. The other thing you realize when you’re somebody with a chronic illness fixing to marry a cancer survivor is that the chances of death, disfigurement, and further disability are disproportionately high for the two of you.

I’m allowing myself to love somebody who could leave me – whether through death or something more mundane, like waning passion – and I’m terribly happy about it. I know all the risks involved in it. I know it could all end badly, horrifically, spectacularly, but I also know that the years we do get together will be pretty cool and fun. We’re a team. We have each others’ backs. And for the first time, I trust this, however naive it may appear.

I want a big, bold life.

It just so happens that I now have a buddy to live it with.

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