If you follow me on Twitter, you inevitably saw the countdown in the past week or so as a few friends and I anticipated their weekend visit. Mandy, Brittney and Amie were driving from Texas [seriously… all the way from Texas] just to hang out with me this weekend and watch the much anticipated LOST finale.
[Ok, the incentive wasn’t really the finale, but we were ridiculously excited when we realized it fell on this weekend.]
Plans were in place. Mandy’s car was tuned up with new brakes, people were half packed, almost ready to leave on their straight-thru Friday drive… when Wednesday rolled around and Britt noticed a sore throat. Then, later in the day, Amie started with a cough and congestion, which was later diagnosed as a sinus infection. By Saturday, when they all would have been here, Mandy’s throat started hurting.
And that’s the story of most people who plan to come see me. :) It happened at Christmas when Jessica and Matthew were taking off and Matthew ended up with the stomach flu. By that weekend, when they would have been here, Jess had a cold.
And it’s not just friends in far away places… plans with friends here in town get canceled all the time because they, or someone in their family, ends up with an illness. We waited until the last minute to make dinner plans for my birthday in order to make sure everyone was well, and they were. Until two out of three friends ended up coming down with something that afternoon.
It’s inevitable, really, that plans will get canceled a lot when you’re living in a body that is immune suppressed. The last time I had pneumonia was because I came in contact with someone with an ear infection. My body will take something minor from someone else and turn it into major upheaval in my world. As much as I hate that my body is this way, I detest being the one who both invites people to come and then tells them to stay away.
We were all feeling quite sorry for ourselves on Twitter, but the truth of the matter is that I have always been very blessed in these situations. As much as I hate the disorder it causes in their lives, I am so grateful that every situation has happened far enough in advance that I have been spared coming in contact with illness. Every single time, they came down with their cold or flu before they’ve traveled here, rather than when they were sitting in my home. They always get sick before they take off and wind up in Iowa, unable to walk through my door.
I know it’s harder for my friends than it is me, because I rarely let myself fully believe something is going to happen until it actually does. I know the excitement of anticipation, but I’m also prepared for the unexpected turns because they happen for me daily. But as I was watching the movie Under The Tuscan Sun this weekend [it’s my substitute for the dream of actually being in Tuscany] I was struck again by a line that always gives me pause.
The main character, Francis, is standing in the villa she impulsively bought and decided to restore when she says, exasperated and afraid, “I bought a house for a life I don’t even have.”
The man who sold her the house tells her, “They say they built the train tracks over the Alps between Vienna and Venice before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come.”
And that’s how I’ve decided to keep living my life. There are so many obstacles that stand in the way of being with people, celebrating with people, enjoying life with people. Most of my friends are in Vienna and I’m isolated here in Venice. There is no train that can make our connections inevitable, but I am going to keep building the tracks. I’m going to keep nurturing the connections I have with people any way we can have them, and be grateful for the community I am building.
Whether or not a train is ever made that can make the trip, I’m going to enjoy the process of building the tracks.
Edited to add this video Amie sent me after reading this post: