Chapter 51: “Never, Never, Land”
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The first semester propelled time faster than ever expected and soon it was already Thanksgiving. This particular Thanksgiving, however, was a reboot for I was finally able to experience it again with my family. I couldn’t believe it had been a year since I underwent one of the single loneliest days of my entire life. I had been fortunate enough to spend this past year with so many loved ones. And since my parents’ divorce, Travis and I were also lucky enough to have two of each holiday. First, we went to my Mom’s side at my Grandparents’ place.
My Memére regaled us with the tale of the candles she had lit each and every day for me and I, once again, showed my appreciation…
…by stuffing our faces to our heart’s content. Hey, I said thank you as well. But with that act of gluttony, an issue arose: we had a whole other meal to eat on my Dad’s side of the family.
Travis and I drove over to my Aunt’s house (and Meal #2) and it was like a homecoming event; I had never received so much attention before. I hoped Travis wasn’t growing jealous and that he understood why I was getting all of this praise. Deep down I think he knew; no, I was sure of it.
At this time, the first semester of my college life was complete. As I awaited the results of my grades we once again gathered for the dual Christmas celebrations.
At my Mom’s side – my Aunt Norma’s and Uncle Dick’s place – we sat around their infamously large, real Christmas tree and opened our gifts. It felt right– it felt like home. I’m sure the fact that I spent some time living there during my “Foster Run” had helped my sense of homecoming.
For my Dad’s side – at my Aunt Claudette’s and Uncle Ray’s place – the vibe was different. My Aunt Claudette always had a slew of envelopes on her tree, each stuffed with a ten-dollar bill for the kids. I noticed that the focus of the event was aimed towards my cousin’s kids– the younger kids of the family. Now, I must state here that this fact was completely just and I had no qualms about it, but this was the moment when I knew I had truly grown up. I was now more of an adult than a child.
Then another milestone was bestowed upon me:
I made it to 2005.
And before I knew it, my first winter break was over and the second semester of college was imminent.
However, this achievement was soon met with a downside; I began my second thirty-day suspension. Luckily, I was able to score a ride into town with Shawn. He’d work at Doc’s early in the morning, and so, I’d wait with him there until my first class… at 8 AM.
Yeah, that was the downside of such an arrangement; I’d have to go in for 5 am. Often, I’d listen to some music on my red Sony Walkman CD player or I would just listen to Shawn and his co-workers shoot the shit.
All was well except that this February in particular, was a cold one. We’d get up to head into town and it would often be five below Fahrenheit or more, NOT including the wind chill.
Since I, myself, had to work later in the evening, I would pack my bag full of books, snacks, and work clothes. The weight was noticeable as I trudged up the snowy and slippery hill in my sneakers to the college campus. Hey, I wasn’t going to pack work shoes, sneakers, AND boots. No thanks. Although some of those mornings made me rethink the sneakers at all.
Then I’d stay in town until I got out of work at 9 pm. I cannot stress this enough: these were long, cold days.
But I soldiered through them until the day that I would once again be reunited with my driver’s license. Yet, I could not have been more thankful for my suspension because there was one shining moment in this second round that I would have missed entirely if not for the restriction. Tony and Cara decided to go to Presque Isle one fine Saturday morning and asked if I wanted to tag along. Maybe it was a nice gesture and not a sincere offer, but I was desperate to do something fun and so I decided to go.
We dicked around the mall for a few hours, ate at a restaurant, and went to catch a movie at Hoyt’s. Earlier in the day, Tony had picked up a new CD from FYE and as the brief daylight began to recede, the three of us headed home under the full moon. Tony played the CD from beginning to end. The album was U.N.K.L.E.’s second record: Never, Never Land. The first track, “Back and Forth” opened with this voiceover:
“It’s good… to be back.”
You see things in life and you’d be surprised by what you see.
Life, your whole life, is changes
You go through changes in your life
One second you’ve got it made
Next second you’re down in the dumps
And it goes back and forth
Throughout your whole life
One second you’ve got the most beautiful girl in the world
Next second you don’t even have a girlfriend no more
And it goes back and forth
And back and forth, you know
And this is life, man, it’s changes
This is what you gotta go through throughout your whole lifetime
Life is indeed full of changes; I was experiencing one now. This CD was a revolution to me and it subsequently became my anthem for the immediate future. Much like A Perfect Circle’s “Thirteenth Step,” if my life had a soundtrack, then this album would definitely be a part of it. I laid in the backseat of Tony’s Civic and watched the bright moon stare back at us. In that moment, I saw the beacon of human accomplishment and re-upped on my commitment to do my small part and help others through my films.
Those two months sans vehicle were a sobering reminder of the error of my ways. First, they made me understand and appreciate Jonas’ plight when we would take turns driving him into town for work. Secondly, my loss of license all began when I sped past a cop back in June and so, I vowed never to speed again.
While driving down to my next visit to the wonderful staff at the Pediatric Oncology clinic, I was driving up the hill towards Ashland going forty, when a cop pulled me over. The speed limit was twenty-five.
The cop walked up to my car, asked for the requisite items and returned to his cruiser. A few minutes later he came back to the car with my credentials…
…and a speeding ticket. So much for the error of my ways.
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.
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