To everyone else it’s just another night. A friend is DJing, of course I’ll be there. My community of friends that I regularly see will be there. Drinks. Good music. Happiness. Just another night? For them. For me it’s the first time I’ve come to this particular place since chemo.
The last time I was here (Cha Cha Lounge, a bar in my neighborhood that my friend occasionally DJ’s at) was at the height of chemo. It was my first real outing, the first time most people saw me bald, saw me sick. I remember feeling eager to get out, eager to be with friends, but scared. It wasn’t, and couldn’t be, just another night. There I was, the moment a friend saw me, cancery H. Alan Scott.
“How are you feeling?”
“You look great!”
“Let me buy that club soda for you.”
“Being bald suits you.” This person is no longer a friend.
It was a fun night, but lonely. No longer was I funny H. Alan, I was funny H. Alan with cancer. I wasn’t just handsome, I was handsome with cancer. Even though I received so much attention, it felt like I was the only person in the room.
Now I’m back in the same bar, with hair this time, no longer sickly looking. My friends have all seen me since chemo, they know I’m fine. I feel OK, not in remission yet, but things are under control. So with all this, why can’t I be here without feeling sad?
Triggers. This is a trigger. An emotional trigger to an event in my past that I associate with a traumatic experience. Cancer landed on me like a ton of bricks a few weeks after turning 30. I had no time to prepare. By the time I got to this bar during chemo, I barely had time to process the cancer I had let alone managing a simple thing like an evening out to hear my friend DJ at a local bar with friends.
I have the shadow of cancer behind me wherever I go now. It’s very Sixth Sense, like I see dead people (if this were actually true, why hasn’t Bea Arthur visited me?). I’m afraid of what I’ll encounter next (unless it’s Bea Arthur), what will trigger off my anxiety, my fears? I’m afraid of my own life, uncertain what will happen next.
But here I am, in this bar, my friend DJing, other friends around me, drinking a club soda. Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow, all I can do is take this one day at a time, triggers and all.