I got an email from a friend after I first got diagnosed. It was a lovely, thoughtful message and in it, this friend lamented my “bad luck” over the years.
That email popped into my head yesterday as I was driving back from Greenville. Lots of thoughts pop into my head while I’m driving because, a little fact about me, I like to drive in silence.
There are a few exceptions. If a Cubs game is on, I’ll listen to that. I’ve got a couple of political podcasts I enjoy, and if I’m bopping around during the day I’ll turn on NPR. Even though I feel like NPR makes my driving too passive. After listening to All Things Considered, if someone cuts me off in traffic my first thought is, “You know what, they do have a point.”
There are a few reasons I like to drive in silence. First off, it’s what I’m used to. My mom drove in silence. And by “silence” I mean four kids screaming in the back of the car. On long car trips I used to stare out of the window and the sound of the interstate would lull me to sleep. I used to love falling asleep and then waking up right as we got to our destination. It was like my parents were magicians and had melded time and space together to quantum leap us to the beach, or my grandmother’s, or wherever we were going. It’s one of my favorite things now, when I’m driving, to have the person riding with me fall asleep and wake up when we get there. I feel like a super hero.
Secondly, it’s my car’s fault. I drive a ’97 Mercury Sable. My options are the radio or my tape deck. As much as I love the Pixies, there are only so many times you can listen to Trompe le Monde (I’m currently on 4.320).
Side bar- I think that if African Americans get pulled over for driving nice cars, I should get pulled over for driving my car. The cop knocks on my window:
Me: What have I done officer?
Cop: You drive a ’97 Mercury Sable. Clearly you’ve done nothing.
End of play.
Another reason I drive in silence is that there’s a part of me that can’t believe it’s legal. I’m serious. Driving is one of the most dangerous, stressful things a person can do. We’re zooming around at high speeds in two ton death machines and we’re like, “Let’s listen to Metallica!”
Jaimie and I have very different thoughts on the matter. For her, a car is less of a means of transportation and more of a personalized karaoke studio. From Taylor Swift to Journey to show tunes, she sings and bounces around up and down on the road, displaying a joie de vivre that I find both inspiring and slightly terrifying.
We drove to Greenville yesterday. Her jamming out on the way up, me staring pensively at the road ahead on the way back. As thoughts were coming in and out, I remembered that friend’s email to me and started to wonder- do I have bad luck?
I guess one could look at my life and deduce that in fact, I do. I spent my senior year of college on probation for literally $3 worth of pot. My wife left me, I had to quit drinking, missed out on my dream job by one vote, had a storm rip the roof off of a house I was three days away from closing on, went from healthy to Stage 4 Colon Cancer in 2.3 seconds. Yeah, you could look at that and say, “Damn, better you than me.”
And occasionally I do dip my toe in those icy waters. I think about what life would be like if I had gotten that professorship, bought that house, told the cop he couldn’t search my car, not got cancer.
But life isn’t perfect. Into everyone’s journey a little rain must fall. The truth is, I’ve had it so fucking amazing. I’ve had great loves, I do what I’m passionate about. I have this big, crazy, supportive family. I make fun of my car but that is glossing over the fact that I have a car that allows me to get around town and listen to the Pixies whenever I want.
Even that I have a friend who would send me that email lamenting my bad luck is a cause for celebration- I have a friend and ways to check my email!
And the cancer, which admittedly is a bummer, has brought people into my life, made me feel closer to friends and family, caused me to start writing this blog.
These were the thoughts racing through my head as I raced back to Atlanta down I-85 yesterday evening. As we got close to our exit, I looked over and Jaimie had closed her eyes and fallen asleep. She woke up as I stopped at the light off the ramp.
“Hey, we’re home.” I said.
“Yay,” she said, while she stretched and rubbed her eyes. “Thank you baby for letting me sleep.”
I felt like a super hero.
That’s pretty lucky if you ask me.