Things are changing in my world. Not in the ghastly – cancer’s going to mug you and take your year – kinda way. That way knocks the wind out of you, leaves you on your ass while it skates by shouting “loser”. So I’m very grateful it’s not that kind.
Life is yelling “Forwards” at me, rallying the troops and charging off in the most unexpected directions. I’m married for crying out loud! I mean, what!? The other big change is in my career.
For pretty much all my working life I have been a stage manager. I have worked odd hours, lived behind a curtain and fashioned a life in the dark, in the backwards hours of the day. I love, love, loved (almost) every minute of it. It is where I’ve met the majority of my most beloved humans, including A (who once kissed me behind a set door, when a smoke machine was going off, *sign*). My work, for the longest time, has been all rolled up in my personality, my identity. If I wasn’t Polly, Stage Manager, I wasn’t at all sure who I was. I stage managed a performance on the day of my mother’s funeral – I wrote her eulogy during a dress rehearsal, between cues. I’m the girl who went back to work 3 weeks after finishing Chemo. I stage manage, there for I am.
Then cancer happened; surgery, chemicals, radiation happened and I can’t be Polly, stage manager, all the time anymore. My body, be it temporarily or permanently (juries out), can’t keep up with back to back shows. The crazy hours, the stress, it’s not helping me recover. But it’s more than that, I’ve realised that evenings and weekends not spent at work means seeing more of the people I love; that siren call of regular hours, my allotment, evenings with my A. It’s having a life and work, not just a life at work.
I want some thing else. Not better, but different.
Has discovering this been painful? Is it scary trying to figure out just what the hell I’m meant to be doing now? Was turning down a show, with pretty much my favourite people involved, my work family, like taking a bullet? You betcha. I feel like a turtle without a shell, all soft and unprotected.
I wake in the night wondering – What if I lose contact with all those wonderful, colourful folk I’ve met? What if there is nothing else on this earth I can do?
Then A. gently reminds me that my health is more important, living a long life is important and I’ll figure out a way a filling it up.
So I am now Polly, part-time stage manager, student of holistic massage, sometime blogger and kicker of cancer’s ass.
Anyway, I thought it was about time that little blog reflected these shifts; looking backwards all the time means I’m bumping into a lot of lamp posts.
I guess I could just say goodbye to little blog, leave it as a testament to my year or so of cancer but I’d miss writing. Plus why just write about the bad bits? So yeah, the tag line to this blog should read PollyGosh: A little blog, not always about cancer.
Thank you for reading along thus far, I understand that not everyone will continue. Little blog has been a handy dandy way of keeping you posted when I was unwell. I very much hope it never has to be that tool again. Please check in every now and again.
Oh and if anyone has any bright ideas for a career for me – answers on a postcard (she half jokes).
We had a little celebration. Actually that’s underselling it as we had a lot to celebrate! It was overwhelming, in the best way, to be surrounded by all the people adore the most. We gave speeches, I’d not managed until the day to read mine without crying but I just about got through it. Dad and A gave lovely speeches, I definitely blubbed through them. It was a lovely, lovely day and not one I’ll forget. Below is the speech I gave, it’s just one big thank you, which is why I wanted the party in the first place! It’s a thank you now, to everyone who has ever read this little blog.
Well, these speeches seemed like a good idea at the beginning of this week, I was pretty smug, truth be told, I thought my love of writing, would make this easy. What I’ve been learning however, is that it’s actually very difficult to convey precisely what I want to, when faced with a room full of people I think the world of.
In many ways the message behind this speech is pretty simple, 10 seconds would suffice. It’s to say thank you. Thank you for coming today, thank you for helping us celebrate. But that’s too simple and I can’t let you all off the hook that easily….
This party started life as a bit of an idle daydream, enabled by Pinterest. I had to spend a great deal of time inside last summer, watching the world go by, not feeling as though I could participate. It became very important to throw a party so I could wear flowers in my hair (because I’d once again have hair) and so that I could see everyone I loved, in one room at one time. While I was ill, I was overwhelmed by just how many amazing people I had in my life – kind, generous and supportive people. It helped me count my considerable blessings to know I was so cared for. So this party became more than about flower crowns, it became about finding a way to tell all you lovely folk how grateful I have been for your support. So the first toast is to all of you and it is just a really big thank you. To everyone!
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to our families, for everything they do for us. Thank you for not freaking out when we rang you and told you we’d sneaked off and got married. It was to hardest secret for us to keep but because you have always been so supportive, we knew you’d be nothing but happy for us. I feel very lucky to have been born into the family I was and I feel very privilege to have joined the wonderful family I have.
I can’t let this moment pass without mentioning my mother. She was the one who taught me to count my blessings and what grace in the face of illness is all about. She told me not to marry until I was at least 30 and to marry a practical man. I didn’t always listened to my Mother but in this instance, I did. Hers is the face always missing from the party and the face I will always miss the most. Though I’m not too sure how cool she’d have been with an elopement…. but thank you Mama for marrying the best man you could, so I knew what to look for, for your fierce love and for all the advice, whether I listened or not.
There are two people in this room, who deserve so much more thanks than I would ever be able to extend here. And another of my blessings is they are now both legally obliged to LOVE ME, how lucky am I?! So I turn my attention to My father and to my A.
When you are in trouble there are no better hands to be holding yours, than those attached to these two humans.
The owner of the hand who has been holding mine the longest is an incredible human being. Words really do fail me when trying to express what I owe him and how grateful I am to have him. He is the kindest, calmest, smartest human I know and I really lucked out that I get to call him Pa. No matter what I have thrown at him, figuratively and (I’m sure as a teenager, literally) he has never dropped the ball. He has supported me, encouraged me and supplied me with a lot of cake. I have always known he was a super hero, but he really excelled himself last year, he was with me at every appointment, he listened to the anger and the fear, he took my grumpiness of the chin and made an impossible situation seem possible. When I was little he was the best guide a girl could have but I think I am most grateful that I get to know him as an adult, he’s the best friend a woman could have.
I always thought it would be impossible to find his equal, and here I have to count yet more blessings because I did.
While writing this speech, trying to come up with anecdotes, it became apparent that A and I are not conventionally romantic – one year we were only reminded that it was our anniversary when A’s mum, rang to ask if we were off somewhere nice for dinner – we were in Asda at the time, discussing cheese.
Neither one of us can remember the exact date we agreed to get married, suffice to say there was no big proposal. We decide together, one evening while Andy was chopping kale.
So far so not very Rom-Com.
No, our style of romance is a little different, it’s the work A puts into our allotment because it’s where we like to hang out together, it’s the fact that he’s my biggest cheerleader when I’m ready to throw in the towel, the thousands of nicknames he’s given me, the dances he does around the flat to make me smile, it’s the fact that he was the only one who could make me laugh during chemo, it was shaving my head and convincing me I was still lovely and it’s because he always remembered who I was and would be again, when all I could see was the sick, bald person in the mirror.
So no, we are not Rom-Com fans, we don’t fit that image. In truth, and here’s an another little known fact for you, A and I love incredibly bad blockbusters. The more implausible and poorly written the better. Which is why, so far this summer, we have watched people parched in a desert, shaken by earthquakes and chased by genetically modified dinosaurs. During one of these classic films, distracted from the razor sharp dialogue and nuanced plot, a question popped into my head – would I survive this situation? It was a question almost as quickly answered. Yes, because I’m a badass but also because the person who’d be standing next to me is awesome, he’s interested and interesting, he’s challenging, funny, gives the best hugs and most importantly in a blockbuster situation – he can do anything, he could even tame a velociraptor, I’m pretty sure. Together we are a fantastic team, he’s my best friend and when he is beside me, I am sure and I am certain, even when things go bump in the night
So Hollywood can keep it’s rom-coms and it’s blockbusters because Andy and I have faced our own monsters and natural disasters and we managed to make our own kind of romance out of that.
The thing that bugs me most about the movies, is that you get the happy ending but you never find out what happens next. So, I thought i’d finish with a verse from the poet and writer, who’s books lined my childhood walls;
There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.