The Road West

August 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

We’re just back from Wales, from Saundersfoot, near Tenby. We go there every year and it’s lovely, even when it rains, which it does a bit, but not as much as you’d think. For the past five or maybe six years we’ve spent the first week of the school summer holidays there, sometimes just us, sometimes with others. It marks the start of summer, the beginning of the fun.

That’s still true, although now it also marks the anniversary of my diagnosis. Two years ago, I had to come back on the train to attend my appointment, when I was told I had breast cancer. I then took the train back to Tenby and played beach cricket with lovely people in the fading light of a beautiful, warm summer evening, the kind of evening that was already nostalgic and sentimental just by dint of it being perfect.

So now two years have gone by and this year I was less tense than a year ago, and certainly less tense than two years ago. Two years is a good length of time and, as a friend who went through all this herself predicted way back, I no longer wake up every morning with cancer as the first thing on my mind. And that’s good, very good. Time goes by and I’m calmer. I still assume that every new ache and pain is something hideous, but I also have a bit more perspective and less often these days do I look at random people walking by and think, “It’s alright for you,” assuming that strangers have no problems and nothing going on that is half as bad as what’s happenng with me. I’ve talked to lots of people, checked out this and that with doctors and counselors (but never online, never, never), and I try to be sensible and not worry too much. Not always easy but it’s the only way I can think of to approach things.

I just reread all that and I sound a bit glum and sorry for myself still, don’t I? Clearly, it is time to cheer up and I think I have, mostly. There is other stuff to get my head round now but keeping busy is still apt. Without wanting to sound too Oprah, there are lots of things out there to do and maybe it’s time to start doing some of them.  I wondered about taking an evening class but couldn’t decide on anything. And actually what I want is just to know more, generally. So here’s the plan: to go to as many talks (or similar) as possible and to write about them here. Talks about anything and everything. In London, where everyone is their own little expert, that must be possible. If there’s anywhere to learn what everyone else knows, it has to be here.

To kick off the new Anne is Keeping Busy, this evening I’m going to a talk at City Lit, “Great American Photographers.” So, in that spirit, here’s a great American photograph which says something about going forward, the road ahead and so on. (I think this might have been taken during the depression, when the Road West wasn’t really much of a solution for all those migrating, desperate farmers, but let’s now worry about that now.)

Dorothea Lange, "The Road West."

Dorothea Lange, “The Road West.”

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