A Girl and Her Dog
Driving from Arcata a few days back, I turned and saw my bicycle gear and yoga mat propped on the back seat and beyond that my panting dog, and I could not help but to think of my arrival in Arcata 15 years ago. I was in the Coop parking lot with my little blue CRX loaded with my bike, yoga mat, a whitewater kayak, a beat up old guitar that I could only play a few chords on, and my awesome sidekick, a golden retriever named Vista. I had gotten a job at the Coop’s bakery counter and was checking on Vista (who traditionally hung in the car in the parking lot) when a customer walked by and said “I love it! Just a girl and her dog. This looks like the LIFE!” as he perused the contents of my loaded down car. For some reason I always remember that and I felt pretty proud of what I was creating for myself. Some people would not have wanted my life, but I loved it, and at twenty-five I felt like everything was falling into place. I had found my new town a few months before on a weekend visit to Arcata with raft guide buddies, Mitch and Gray. I fell in love with the beauty and remoteness of the area, the idea of no traffic, no bridge toll, a place I might be able to someday afford to buy a house perhaps. I had thirty-five dollars to my name when I moved from Marin to Arcata (I had been working/volunteering as a poor, but very happy raft guide for years and was a student at San Francisco State), and my CRX was on the verge of breakdown (leaky oil gasket that resulted in huge billowy clouds of black smoke), but I had found a place to live on the dunes with a trail to the beach, and a super cool roommate, Billie, who is still (lucky dog) a raft guide on the Grand Canyon in the summer.
A few days ago I left my family for six weeks of radiation in Marin. Just me and my dog, Honu (and bike and yoga mat, but no whitewater boat). It was truly heart wrenching and after being a blubbering mess from Arcata to Eureka, I pulled myself together and was reminded in a flash that there will be a certain freedom that I can look forward to and embrace while on this journey. I am heading south this time instead of north, and this time it is only for six/seven weeks, not an unknown or an eternity. My life is much different now. I have a loving husband and two beautiful children, and I am a business owner of a cool little business right down the street from that Coop parking lot. And oh yeah…I had cancer from which I am recovering. The community that has become mine over these past fifteen years is a huge support in my healing from cancer journey ….local businesses and individuals raising money toward my cause and supporting me emotionally, with meals for my family, kind words, wisdom, etc. So much has come my way and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this community.
Radiation starts in an hour. I met the machine a few days back. I have three or four little dot tattoos (permanent, as in forever) on my body that need to be all lined up with lasers and tape measures as I lay on a foam pad that was molded to my head and arm a few weeks ago. This is how the technicians ensure they radiate the exact same spot every time. Here is the machine. I laid in it while Mamba music played and I stared above at the coral/fish scene fluorescent light covers.
So, I am terribly sad to not be with my husband and children, but I look forward to the adventure and time I will spend with my sister and her family, and some friends, and my dog.
I was at Cafe Brio one day in the thick of it–tired, starving kids on a sugar crash after an overwhelming birthday party and I heard a woman at the coffee bar talking about how she could not figure out what to do that day because she had already done all of her shopping, folded her laundry, cleaned her whole house, and had no clients that day. She even had already exercised! I felt like handing over my kids. I think of her periodically, and she comes to mind now while I am in Marin because I can be just like her. Hmmm. What shall I do today?
I started today with a three hour hike in my favorite Marin watershed…Mount Tamalpias. Including the Yolanda Trail which I had hiked the day before my mastectomy. Then, a cool thing happened…I ran into my surgeon (a lovely woman!) on a morning run at the base of the mountain.
Off to radiation number one. I will let you know how it is going.