Chapter 27: Town I Call Home
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As I once mentioned, my path wasn’t always set in motion. Up until junior year, I didn’t have any aspirations to be anything “when I grew up.” Then, as if on a whim, I decided that I would be a filmmaker because “I liked movies.” I didn’t even know if I would enjoy the process or have any talent pertaining to the profession, I just… liked movies.
If I chose this occupation, however, that meant I would eventually have to leave my little town of Fort Kent, Maine, and go on to greener pastures. The thought of being anywhere else besides my comfortable little town was utterly terrifying. I’d been here my entire eighteen years – aside from these past few months in Bangor – and I was excited to go home.
The plan had been to attend college for a few years at UMFK, you know, to get the basic courses under the belt. Then, the next step was to head out to someplace bigger… Perhaps New York Film Academy? They had a director’s course there and I had researched their materials online. But my inherent fear crept its way back in my brain. “It’s too expensive,” and “I’d only ever been as far as Connecticut,” burrowed themselves deep into the recesses of my psyche.
But I tried not to let that worry solidify as I had plenty of time to figure that out; once I go back to school next year, then I’ll “find my way.” Who knows? All I knew now was that I was home again, safe from those apprehensions, and I only had to focus on survival.
As I drove the ten-minute drive from my Dad’s house into the town of Fort Kent, I thought of its population. The last time the census was tallied in 2000, Fort Kent had 4,233 people; that’s a lot of people, but then I pictured Presque Isle, whose population was closer to ten thousand. Whoa.
Fort Kent was insanely isolated. Sure, there were hundreds of small towns in Maine, but the Northern part of Aroostook County felt detached. We had to travel an hour just to reach the nearest Wal-Mart or KFC, while it was only twenty minutes to the nearest K-Mart. At least we had a Subway and McDonald’s in town.
I passed both as I “did the loop,” once over (where you drive from one end of Main Street to the other; Rinse, Repeat), and then went up the hill off of Pleasant Street, onward to MBNA. My last visit didn’t include a visit to my co-workers. Luckily, I still had a job considering I was dying via chemicals in a hospital halfway downstate. Thank God for short-term disability.
As I drove around the parking circle, I remembered my dream from last week. I pictured not being able to walk like in the dream and stopped to marvel at my real ability to do so. Man, it’s crazy how immobilized I was when my legs were engulfed in metaphorical flames. It was nice to appreciate the little things such as walking, it’s one of those daily abilities we take for granted; abilities some would kill for.
I entered the building; mask adorned upon my face and presented my name badge. The security guard was surprised to say the least, as I hadn’t made my visit known to anyone.
I walked the floors of the call center, greeted by dozens of familiar faces. My shift (and my team) was evening based, so I didn’t get to see many of them. I should have better thought this through.
All of my three bosses were ecstatic to see me (yup, just like Office Space); I, in turn, was prepared to orate for at least an hour, as I typically did during visits to public places in Fort Kent. The townsfolk are thoroughly involved in other’s lives, often providing wonderful fundraising and support and consequently, people tend to want to hear how their local survivor is doing when in their presence.
After my requested diatribe of self-preservation, I began to ask questions about my current status as an employee. I had to deflect conversation in this manner, because believe it or not, I’m not one to enjoy talking about myself.
The bigwigs assured me that my job was secure and that they would only be able to hold it for a year from the incident. No problem, there! I only have four or five more months of treatment left! The visit didn’t last too much longer for I was getting tired (of talking). I decided I would exercise my right to get home and get some rest.
As soon as I left the parking lot, I got a second wind and aimed to utilize it and surprise my buddies again. As soon as I knocked, I heard “I bet it’s Jamie.” Dammit, I’ve been had!
We hung out for a good amount of time and eventually headed for supper at Al’s. I was craving their pizza bad, and it was my favorite pizza of all time. After that, we went to the movies. It was nice just to pretend that everything was back to normal.
My spirits were high but I wasn’t out of the woods just yet because with every peak, the valley (and not St. John Valley) was not far behind. I was set to return to the hospital in about a week, so I planned to do what I did best in Fort Kent: feel safe, sound, and loved.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.