In a parallel universe I think I need this shirt, these jeans, this off kilter way of standing as if I am just pausing for a moment in my charmed, lucky life to stare straight into a camera for no other reason than it is all so beautiful.
In this parallel universe I open all of my emails from Anthro and Shopbop promising, as they do, the season's best dresses for here, there & everywhere, deals on Cabo, facial peels from Groupon, my finger hovering over the buy button because, well, should I? Why not? And I do. They do. We all do in this parallel universe that is glimmering just off the periphery of my vision right now, my inbox a tower of possibility before I hit delete, delete, delete...
I don't. Can't yet. No money, but also...instead I think about a week last May when I had nothing to blog about, remember walking to the bus stop after work one day thinking I would do a post on that shopping site I had found. I mean, I had nothing else to write about, right?
And then, of course, it happened.
When I was diagnosed the neurologist told me that because my disease was relatively mild so far she thought I would still be walking in 10 years, 15, maybe forever? She couldn't say exactly seeing as how MS is the disease of no promises but countless, endless, limitless possibilities. The best indicator of how you will do is how you have done, she said, and I wanted to punch her in her stupid cookie face and add "in bed" to the end of her sentence like you do with inane fortunes, make it all a joke, because it had to be, right? A joke. The emails kept coming. Leggings to love! The latest from DVF. Big bedroom markdowns, up to 70% off!
It all kept on coming, emails, celebrity gossip, the checker at the grocery store asking me how my day was, nail polish trends and politics both office and global, but I stopped. My world. Stopped opening emails and answering small talk--god, how I hated small talk in those first few weeks, months. I turned inward and off, all those sales of up to 40% off now meds with a 35% reduction in new or enlarging T2 hyperintense lesions compared to placebo, columns of data ranging from "not statistically relevant" to "relatively safe" whatever that means, to full paleo, organ meat, low-fat, eat a plant-based diet rich in what the fuck am I supposed to do with that? I read it all and tried it all, not long enough to see if any of it worked, of course, but I researched and read, dug in. Burrowed, I guess, is the right word. I burrowed deep into numbers, theory, anecdotal evidence, clinical proof.
And now here I am having done the thing with the highest stat of them all, immunosuppressive therapy with an autologous stem cell transplant, an 82% chance of halting progression, 95% depending on which data you read, which patient subset, which little asterisk you follow to the bottom of the page, flip over to the fine print. Who even reads the fine print anyway? Terms and conditions being what they are, I won't know what my outcome is for awhile yet, if ever. Always looking over my shoulder at what might happen, in 10 years, 15. Because the best indicator of what might happen is what actually happens, how's that for cookies, Confucius?
As long as we're feeling philosophical, we might as well say that none of us knows, 10 years or 15. Will you be walking? Sick? Alive? Happy? Hit by a bus tomorrow. Please know that I don't mean to be a downer but quite the opposite, really. Maybe not knowing is freeing, the frivolity of thinking I need a pink and gold embroidered silk dress actually a balm against the unbearable not-knowingness of it all.
Because this morning, for the first time since May, I found myself clicking open on an email promising effortless dresses and flowy tops...that parallel universe floating in from my periphery the memory of who I used to be before. And while I don't think I will ever be the same again, I do think that parallel universe will edge closer, converge a bit, form a Venn diagram with who I am now at the center of it all, someone who realizes that there are no promises but countless, endless, limitless possibilities, not all of them good, but not all of them so terrible, either.