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6/1- Existing Conditions

In 1998 I backpacked across Europe. My friend and I had taken an over night train from Munich to Venice and we got there early, like 6 or 7 in the morning. Our hotel was on the opposite side of town from the train station so we walked through the streets of Venice right as the city was waking up. The shop owners were opening their doors, saying hello to their neighbors, having their first espressos and cigarettes of the day. All these people, starting their day together. The routine of it all. I felt like I was in the opening song from Beauty and the Beast. Only happy.

I thought of that yesterday while I was getting my treatment. I was the first person in my section of the infusion center. The first person in the recliner. (

But as that first hour went by the room started to fill up with people getting treatment and the people there supporting them.

That has been one of the biggest side effects of getting cancer: all the people. When I first got diagnosed and it became a part of my world I was struck by how many people have it. I know it’s always been that way but, all of a sudden I was aware of it. People would send Facebook messages connecting me with other people who have it. People I totally forgot had it emailed me that they were thinking of me. This person's aunt or this person's sister in law. It is amazing, how many people have some form of this fucking disease.

Then there are the cards from my family. Not to mention the checks and pray shawls and gift certificates.

It was hard at first. Being a member of Generation X I'm allergic to sincerity. People would write me, saying if there was anything they could do just let me know. I really wanted to take them up on it but for like totally random things.

Me: Hey there, you know how you said if I needed anything don’t hesitate to ask?

Nice person: Of course, what do you need?

Me:A ride.

Nice Person: To chemo?

Me: No, to the movies.

Nice Person: Um, yeah I could go see a movie.

Me: Yeah, no. I want to go by myself I just don’t want to deal with parking…life being

precious and all…just drop me off and pick me up two hours later? Thanks!!!

End of Play. And Friendship.

People were even offering the services of their parents. I got so many emails from people saying, “My parents live in Atlanta if you need anything.” What would that conversation look like?

Me: Hey there is David Nelson.

Parents of Person I Know: Ok.

Me: You might know me as Davey.

Parents of Person I Know: No.

Me: Oh, well I went to college with your son like 20 years ago and I just got diagnosed with colon cancer and they said if I needed anything I should call you.

Parents of Person I Know: Um, do you need something?

Me: I mean…I just got my cell phone bill…hello….hello?

End of Phone Call. And Play.

But it’s amazing... all the people.

All the people. There is the volunteer up front who checks you in. The room full of people waiting to get labs. The people in the cafe. The infusion center. All the people with the people.

And there are all kinds of people too. This disease knows no race, color, or creed. There was the woman who walked in wearing hijab. There were two Asian families next to me. Three African American couples. One old white guy who slept with his mouth open. There was a young white couple who wheeled in a rolling suitcase. And me, with my computer open, writing all this shit down.

I’ve never felt more connected to friends to family to complete and total strangers. To life. Those people in the infusion center, we are all the same.

Just human beings. Dealing with our Existing Conditions.

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