Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"We Return From the Place Where We Came From"

"I take another breath. Smoke my Newport to the butt like it's the last mothaf#*ka left" - Tupac Shakur

I've been gone for almost six months now, but its felt like longer. Traveling has a strange effect on time. It condenses the hours into minutes, makes the days feel like months. Nicaragua feels like a year ago. Guatemala another lifetime. I've been reading through my blog, observing my transformations, noting the experiences that got me here and unsuccessfully trying to predict of where I'll be. I recognized that most of my entries have a hint of a morbid tone, perhaps the darker side of what is supposed to be a bright, colorful journey; but we are organisms of emotions and happiness is only one of them. I can gladly say that I've been fortunate enough to have what I can consider one of the best days of my natural life on this trip and maybe "there won't always be more. Maybe happiness was that moment. Right then". But that doesn't mean pain can't be beautiful.

My immersion into boxing gyms has allowed me a unique opportunity to understand what probably is a sliver of what its like to be near the botton of a country that already doesn't have much, and from my experience, has been one of the safest ways to do that. I've heard so many stories, witnessed so much struggle, that I'm beginning to feel the weight of it all consolidating. You might think that repeatedly hearing how boxing saved someone's life would start to sound like a broken record, but it doesn't. Seeing people quite literally fight to better themselves never gets old. But I've almost had a sick attraction to these tales, it gave me this sense of gratefulness for my own life, like it helped me ignore my own problems.

For the past two weeks I've been waiting on medical results from a biospy to see if I have cancer. It is as if this particular practitioner likes to make it as dramatic as possible. Each time I'm given a date to call, each time I prepare myself to hear the news that I may die soon, I'm told to check back, again, and again...and again. It's like a cruel gameshow that keeps cutting to commercial before revealing what's behind door #1. In some twisted way I almost wanted to be positively diagnosed so I'd have an excuse to go home, not so much because I was homesick, but because there are so many things I would do over again on this trip, so many times I want to relive. My thoughts focused on the different stories I would seek, different pictures I would take, never thinking about how I would have to fight for my life, how I'd have to "face the hours".

I only told one person about the possibility of my having cancer and immediately regretted it when I realized it was selfish of me to worry anyone in the preliminary stages. Everyone seemed to be dealing with their own equally troubling problems and I'm in no position to say if one's person's issues are worse than another, despite all that I've seen on this trip. It feels like those that I knew are going through so many transitions, so many changes that I wonder if I'll recognize their person when I get back. People are staring new careers, getting married, having kids, some just released from prison, others still there. I can still remember the faces of those I left behind, but will they be the same? Will I?

I know I won't. Maybe this biopsy is a wake-up call. It made me realize that during the motorcycle accident in Nicaragua, nothing flashed before my eyes, not because I didn't care about life, but because I didn't think I was going to die. I don't want to die. But at least I can say I was able to live one of the happiest days of my life and even luckier to be able to recognize it in the moment. Then, I didn't have to worry about anything, no social expectations, no obligations. I remember one moment when I just told myself, "don't worry, everything will work out". And it did. All I had to do was let fate carry me away and enjoy the ride. I was free.

But then you crash back into reality, which for me is being in Bogotá. I could feel things getting progressively worse. Twice the victim of petty thievery, the possibility of being diagnosed with cancer, and now, with all on my mind, irresponsibly losing my bag full of expensive electronic gadgets, has just been...too much. It's not the monetary value of these things, it's what was inside them. The wallet was a gift from Akey, the phone had a guitar recording of my friends from Costa Rica, the bag, had, God, irreplacable items from those that mean the most to me in my life. I feel that I've been stripped of everything that has meant anything to me. I'm trying so desperately to find the lessons in all this, make sense of why I deserve it all, but it's so hard. I feel so weak. But that is what life is. It is exactly what I've been repeatedly told on this trip. "La vida es una lucha" (life is a fight) and "you can't find peace by avoiding it".

Update: I just found out I don't have cancer.


JamesAmyTY said...

I'm so glad you are cancer free...and so glad that you are so open and sharing your wonderfuland troubling journey with anyone who can find you. congratulations on your health! I am sorry for your other losses, but have nothing I could offer to replace your objects with memories. Good Luck and I hope you find more happy days

Nathan Cermak said...

very glad to hear you are still alive and without cancer. your journey is really inspiring - thank you for writing

Anonymous said...

i send you lots of love and besos-tiana