Friday 8 June 2012

A matter of time.

Ordinarily, when I’ve been away from social media for a while, it’s a sign that all is not well. As any of my mates will tell you, I have a somewhat useless habit of ‘going under’ for a few days (all right, weeks) when things are particularly shitty, generally waiting until someone forces the problem out of me before I do anything about it. This last month or so, however, has been rather different. My lack of Twittering or Facebooking or whatever isn’t the result of a turbulent period, but instead the result of that most glorious of time-fillers: normality.

It’s all thanks to my treatment break, of course: a timely, precious and enormously appreciated stretch in which my social activity is – finally – more actual than virtual. I’ve spent time back home with the family, been out for swanky dinners, seen more of my mates, had weekend escapes in lovely hotels, spent a gorgeous week in Spain (so gorgeous, in fact, that we’re off there again tomorrow), been to gigs, attended a lovely wedding, had my friend Ant from LA over to stay, thrown a Jubilee party… in short, I’ve squeezed in the all the life I wasn’t able to live while on seven months’ worth of chemo into seven weeks’ worth of chemo-break. It’s been bloody wonderful. And, given that this well-earned rest is teetering on a could-end-at-any-moment precipice, I’m buggered if I’m calling a halt to the fun just yet. Life, I’ve come to learn, is very simply about making time for happy memories and spending time with the people you love – and that’s what I’ll continue to do, until such a time as The Bullshit creeps back to piss on my chips, when I’ll scrap with all I’ve got to get back to this; the good stuff.

The only problem with such a situation, however, is that there are more demands on my time than perhaps ever before. And in these days of uninhibited openness, constant narration, candid diarising and ever-growing friendship circles – particularly through the likes of blogging and social media – it can prove tricky terrain to negotiate, and I’m conscious of coming across as the kind of person who uses those tools only in times of dire need, ditching them (and anyone associated with them) when things are looking up. The truth of the matter, though, is that – as an advocate of the sharing culture that social media has granted us – I want to let everyone in on the good as well as the bad. It’s just, I suppose, that when things are better, and you’re so desperate to drink it up, it leaves less space to do so, and hence just living takes precedence over sharing that living. And, you might say, quite rightly too.

Since we’re talking truths, though, there’s even more to it than that. Because, see, in this wonderful period of living, it’s not just my lack of time to share my narrative that’s making me look somewhat on the quiet side, but my lack of inclination. Since September last year, all I’ve had to think about is how I’m feeling, how long I’ve got, and whether my treatment is worth the trauma. But now, all of a sudden, those things – permanently etched into my mind though they remain – have been allowed to sit on the back-burner, gifting me time to think about the more important things in life, like what to buy people for their birthday, whether my nails match my outfit, and what to delete on the Sky+ to make way for more Jersey Shore …all of which have, on a number of occasions, taken precedence over blogging or tweeting or replying to Facebook messages or emails. In short, I suppose, where previously my brain’s been filled with Bullshit, now it’s filled with bullshit. And so it’s no surprise that where the cancer crap is concerned, lately, I just don’t want to talk about it.

I apologise if that’s a confusing message to send out, particularly when we all know that there’ll shortly come a time when I’ll have to (heck, want to) talk about it once more. Right now, though, I’m just so over it that I’m, I dunno, under it. Which, granted, is a bit on the ridiculous side when you’re supposed to be keeping up a blog on the progress of your health.

Another confusing message I may have sent out – okay, overused – is the one that goes thus: ‘Yeah, definitely! As soon as I’m on my treatment break...’ Talk about stitching yourself up, eh? Because, with the disproportionate amount of time spent in treatment than out of it, there’s only so many times you can come good on that promise – particularly when it comes to the friends I’ve never met; the folk whose virtual kindness has been so helpful to me through years of The Bullshit.

The odd person has become impatient with me – angry, even – as a result of this state of affairs, but what those virtual friends perhaps don’t know – where my real-life friends do – is how much of a knock my confidence has taken over the last few months. Where once I was poised and self-assured and perfectly fine when it came to meeting new people, now I only feel confident in the company of my very closest family and friends. Thus, when you add that side-effect to the lack of time in which I have to see my nearest and dearest before everything goes tits up again, the result is a lovely big dollop of guilt about how my treatment break – my timely, precious, enormously appreciated treatment break – is spent.

In many ways it’s classic me, this, isn’t it: finding stuff to fret about in the very period I ought to be fret-free, but old dogs and new tricks n’ all that. You might call it fatalistic; but I call it funny (albeit the sick side of funny). Because, hey – in the grand scheme of worries, these are pretty bloody lovely worries to have. And let me tell you, it ain’t half nice to know that, even after a months-to-live talk, you’re capable of going back to fretting about daft stuff like how much time you spend updating your Twitter feed.

So I do hope you’ll excuse me if I smirk my way back to Spain this weekend. But please don’t be offended if you don’t get a postcard, eh? Chances are I’ll just be having too much fun to write one.