I find myself thinking on the big stuff this afternoon, a mixture of a few friends recent story of illness and a slightly rose-tinted memory of carefree days before all the adult stuff came along and stole the freedom. I don’t mean I’d change anything, marriages, lovers, friends, & family have all come, and some have gone on or melted into faded snapshots of another time, all an essential part of me in their way.
I just had a moments hunger for that freedom we feel at say, 17 or 22 when you are still far too young to have your shit together, but gladly still too young to notice. The world is yours, the years lie ahead to be filled with anything you can imagine and love comes easily and quickly without doubts and worries beyond tonight. I don’t think we ever feel again as free as we do in those early adult years, though perhaps it is only felt so deeply with hindsight, viewed with sepia tones.
I am blessed to have a few very close friends that I would literally trust with anything. Some are newer by comparison, but some go back to those earlier memories of late late nights, too much wine, lazy Sundays, passionate conversation and laughter that cramped you over with a pleasurable ache.
The paths we’ve followed since have been meandering and varied, I’ve seen careers grow and change, babies born and come to early adulthood, and loving relationships grow beautifully strong, or be ended by death, neglect or ennui. All of these changes, the loss, the grief, the growth and the joy are what you expect, life moves on and we accept and learn to roll with the punches. In the same way perhaps the loss of a pet helps prepare a young child for grief, the early teenage relationships and heartbreak are preparation for the pleasurable hell that is serious dating.
Nothing prepares you for serious or chronic illness. Certainly at 17 or 22 I never imagined that I or one of my friends would end up being sick. Properly medical hospital type sick. As it happens I have my own illnesses, and a beautiful friend has been sent far harder trials.
We met today. I was trying to describe or capture just for a moment the beauty that exists in being able to sit and laugh, really laugh with her at the whole damned medical process, the tests, the letters, the constant appointments, the drugs, the morbidity and the side effects, the reduced life expectancy, the medical dictionary your mind becomes in your relevant field, and the phrase that came was ‘we were laughing at the unexpected outrageousness of the roads we travel’.
The Unexpected Outrageousness.
Sometimes a phrase can just capture a feeling. Being serious and sad can sometimes have it’s moments when you’re facing the reality of the fragility of life head on, but what’s far more important and appropriate is laughter.
Yes, life has become bloody outrageous, the kind of outrage that makes you want to punch the earth and scream at the sky. And instead by reaching deep inside for the shared humour that says f*ck this, for the ridiculous medical farce life can become, you find that 17, that 22, and laughter cramps you again with that pleasurable ache. May we live forever.