Sunday, August 4, 2013

Finding Paradise

Planning doesn't work out for us and mainland trips. After moving here- we heard it a lot- but why would you ever want to leave paradise?

Definition of vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

Definition of Paradise: 
heaven, as the final abode of the righteous.
an intermediate place for the departed souls of the righteous awaiting resurrection.
( often initial capital letter ) Eden (  def 1 ) .
a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness.
a state of supreme happiness; bliss.
After almost 8 years of living in paradise, I sometimes feel like a character in Lost- running around trying to find my way home while others keep telling me the island doesn't want me to leave. The first time I tried to leave for vacation- Lily was diagnosed with cancer.  While we were planning her Make A Wish trip- it was excruciating hitting the ups and downs of chemo and adrenal insufficiency- I felt like we were baiting the Gods into showing their fury for us trying to do anything restful, recreational or happy. For the year  she endured cancer and treatment- this place did not feel like home, heaven, supreme happiness or beautiful. It did however feel like we were hovering on the precipice to the intermediate place for departing souls- so I guess in that respect- we had our paradise.

Cancer robs you of any ability to plan while occupying almost every vacant space on your calendar.  But after a year of Phil working 3 jobs- my recovering from my own dance with the cancer beast while trying to find yet another new normal and prepare for the eventuality that no one gets out alive. I was not feeling the paradasical love- we needed a vacation from our paradise. We try to harness a couple days here and there throughout the year for staycations- and during those times we too appreciate the beauty of the island that we call home. But most other days- its gridlock for 2 hours added to the husband's 14 hour day while I try to balance the health, house, school and activities- without the added challenges of rain, snow, or any of those pesky seasonal changes. 

So a few weeks ago, while enjoying our little plot of paradise and several beverages- Phil chomped on that proverbial bullet and bought 6 plane tickets to California. Seize the vacation my friend. Former Jen would research hotels, activities, sights and attractions. She would spend hours upon hours devising the most efficient and jam packed itinerary. For when you live in paradise- a vacation from beaches and relaxing is traveling and seeing and doing. I was exhausted and fearful to even think about the possibility of getting away- after all- I had I litany of scans ahead of my little family. With one swipe of the ipad- the husband had baited the gods of fate- I was left to wait and see which form retribution would take this time. 

Yet the scans came and went. No repurcussions. My check up was anticlimactic. I felt for sure the plane would crash. It's a strange place that cancer aftermath puts you in. Especially living with a hereditary cancer syndrome. Everyone expects that once you are out of treatment- you are "done." But you are constantly waiting for the other tumor suppressor to drop. As much as I try to be positive- every aspect of life become prioritized- work gatherings take second place to family time- as they should. My support system wanes and I realize it is my fault- but I trade the frivolous social time for quality mutant time. I see the changes in Phil too- he's lived the cancer beast several times now- he too wears the invisible scars. I don't plan. I try and then when it implodes- I scramble. SO in the effort of efficiency- cut out the planning. Some call it spontaneity- for us it becomes a way of life. 

Phil did most of the planning- I submitted a wish list and some input- as my research skills are still superior. What forms is a rough outline- really just a choose your adventure chapter- a flow chart for all of the inevitable roadblocks that will pop up. I didn't even clean the house or finish the laundry before we left. That was my offering to the gods of fate- maybe if they let me have this vacation- I could deal with mouldy laundry and bugs when I returned.  
Our vacation in all respects was a success. It was a jam packed itinerary in every regard. We travelled- we drove over 1000 miles in about 4 days. We walked, we hiked, we saw, we experienced. We vacated.
We saw a friend in the Crossfit Games, 
Walked along a pier.

Bella declared Hollywood busy and crowded with lots of people buying and selling stuff.

 We rode rides on the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

 We sampled some grapes and some olives.

 Met our new cousin and got some good squeezes in on his brother. 

Met a fellow mutant.
and another fellow mutant. 
We walked on the Golden Gate Bridge.
We hiked around Yosemite. 
And we ended up at one of the Happiest Places on Earth. 
Our final dinner of vacation was with new friends who felt like old friends- who share this crazy adventure in genetic cancer mayhem. I watched my my husband chat with someone who could relate to his journey. I think it healed a small bit of his soul.  We watched 2 little girls who have battled cancer and although they did not even share the same language- communicate and relate in a way more humans should- in a way that only souls tortured by disease could understand. As adults, we watched and smiled and wondered if they had an idea why they were drawn to each other- or if they just were being kids. Either way, it was a bit of paradise. 

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)