my story isn’t singular. barely unusual. but i find myself caught with some surprise when i feel that i have worked hard to have some control over my life (yes, i know..a laughable concept) and then get a little landmine that comes out of my side vision. in fact, i bet that my experience is the norm…that all of us duck and weave through our lives and there are more little land mines than massive ones.
i have been putting off getting my driver’s license renewed. it’s simply that i hate dealing with administrative issues and i have been trying to be determined to start something and finish it completely – no matter how small the task. so i decided that i could go to the dmv before my lunch date with my dear friend in manhattan and decided that i would go to the dmv at herald square (34th Street) before zipping up to the theater district. i dutifully looked up the address and, in an end-of-summer-triumph, i rousted myself out of bed early and poured a hot cup of coffee down and threw myself on the ever-wonderful Q train. plunkety-plunkety-plunk…like a well-honed-new yorker, i zigged and zagged and was up at the dmv quickly and efficiently. except the website doesn’t tell you that if you are looking for a license renewal, you’d better schlep 3 blocks west (3 big east-to-west blocks) to the ‘license express’ office. could i make the lunch date? what if i haul my bum over there and find another very long line in which to wait. but no, ‘finish every task’ felt fresh and new and important so off i went…long strides. my town.
surprisingly, the express license renewal office was exactly that. i hesitate to talk about a city administrative office like this but it was easy and fast! automated in the best sections and at every desk i walked up to, a nice smiling person to talk to.
did the eye test and then came the little landmine. did i want a new photo on my license? i looked down at my soon-to-expire license. a bad photo over 10 years old. when i looked at it, i felt like it was a lifetime ago. i used to look really hot and this photo must have been taken on one of my really bad miasma days. then i thought up. in a literal sense…to the top of my head.
wow, this is a lot of writing and it seems like i’m avoiding the point. i am. it’s hard. for all my general anxiety, i have a bull-dog attitude when i come up against things – tho i usually have to be right up against them … the runway to them has major anxiety and then at the last moment i’m very ‘get out of my way’. so i slogged through chemo. i read the breast cancer boards. i asked lots of questions and visualized what was ahead. i had a friend come with me when the nice wig lady shaved my head. no stubble for me. take it off. – the struggle about wig vs. no wig isn’t something i can quite discuss yet, but i can say that it was no peripheral landmine that day…it was a straight hit. i was unprepared to be bald. i missed my hair with everything i had. i sobbed. and then i dried my eyes. but, worse, in between chemo-induced menopause, estrogen-depriving tamoxifen and previously fine straight hair in my past, what came back was patchy and slow to grow. i am grateful to minoxidyl and my doctor’s agreement to letting me use it (the other stuff is out because of my estrogen-based cancer). 3 and a half years later – no, not that storybook ‘a year later with a great perky short thick style’ – i have some semblance of my hair back. 3 and a half years. jeez. it’s as good as it’s going to get. it’s fine but mostly covering. i try not to stare at the very front where i used to have great bangs but now have straggly bangs and hope that other people don’t notice either. i get it colored – first darker, then lighter, then streaked, then not. i use goop…one small pea size of liquid goop and my hair -with some blowdrying – is passable. one medium pea size of liquid goop and my hair looks like i have lanky clumps.
yesterday, thankfully, was a ‘good’ hair day. i used a little conditioner and it was soft and had easy movement and i glanced in the mirror at the dmv and thought: ‘yes, this is what i look like now.’ anxiety on the runway; get it done when i came up against it. i have to let the old picture, the old me, go. i am the new me. get out of my way.