Out in the world

Since I was diagnosed with cancer 10 months ago I don’t think I’ve been busier than I’ve been the last week and a half. I’m weary, but I’ve enjoyed it.

It’s been a time of reunion as much as anything else. I had a friend from Mullumbimby down visiting his family. He was here for about nine days and visited three times. We had breakfast together twice and went on a drive in his EV the other time. We walked down the beach deep in conversation. Just as we used to, we discussed politics and ethical dilemmas and the morality of social media (so okay, we never used to discuss that).

He’s a gentle soul with a generous spirit and a quirky sense of humour. I was very grateful for his time and attention. He’s a great bloke.

Today, I had brunch with a mate visiting from Coolum with another mate from across town. We spoke of old times and how our lives had diverged. It was cool but the sun was bright and once more we walked along the beach afterwards.

It was Easter last weekend, and on Saturday I went with a friend to Sorrento. This was quite a trip for me. For the previous ten months, I’ve barely gone anywhere. The places I’ve gone – to and from the hospital, the city a few times, and the local area – have become repetitive. A trip down the coast to a summer hotspot on a sunny day was a great change.

We had lunch at the Sorrento Hotel, which was full but pretty average.

I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance joining us. While everyone else was off somewhere else, she told me how she had been following my cancer commentary on Facebook. She hadn’t commented but thought it was great. It was surprising for a man to be so open, she said: I was very articulate.

I’ve wondered what people think of my rambling posts, but some positive feedback lately has reassured me. I knew what she was saying. I’m conscious of how much I’m revealing but it doesn’t worry me. That by itself is quite a change to my pre-cancer self, and I’m very comfortable with it. I said that to her. I told her how I had come to realise that you can be vulnerable without being diminished by it.

Things happen to everyone. It’s a part of life. Things may happen to me but I don’t become them. They’re real, like the weather, and like the weather, I must take account of them. But, sunshine or rain, I remain the same man.

While I was down there I arranged to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen since before all this. They’re now living down there permanently.

The sun was shining and the streets teeming with day-trppers when I found them sitting outdoors at a cafe with a bottle of wine. I was with them for half an hour and it was lovely.

Part of it is me opening up to the world again. They set eyes on me and reckoned I didn’t look too bad. They asked questions, and I told stories, and at the end of it, we kissed and shook hands, and then I was off home again.

Then there’s been work. Ironic after what I wrote last week that this week I’ve had to step up and do some of the things I described and said I wouldn’t do. I’ll write about it another time. Suffice to say, I’ve worked double the hours I was scheduled to. I didn’t mind.

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