Friday, February 8, 2013

David Cancerfield

Hello there!  Kevin here.  I hope you're all doing well.  The plan for this post is to supply a little background.  I wanted to explain to you a bit about myself, do my due diligence and get the "David Copperfield kind of crap" out of the way.  A lot of you might already know who I am, but it never hurts to have a refresher.  Besides, a lot has happened in the past few years, and I hardly recognize myself these days, so I think it proper that I try to explain exactly how I got here.

I'll tell you in advance that I hate introductions, and I hate talking about my self.  Any time we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves, whether at school, work, or wherever, I always tried to make a joke out of it.  When it came to be my turn, I would dismiss the exercise by saying something humorous or outlandish.  I usually brought up a funny aspect of my life or an unusually entertaining interest.  It ended up making people laugh, or at the very least raised a few eyebrows, but it never was very informative.  Although, in my defense, you could easily make the argument that defining yourself as a vocation is much less informative than what I offered up.  A person could know a lot about me by the kind of answer I chose to give.  And I gave people direct insight into my character.  As if saying, "Hello, this is precisely who I am and what I can offer you.  If you aren't interested, I wish you well regardless."  

Or maybe that's an excuse, and I really just have issues talking about myself.  That's more likely than what I just said, isn't it?  Yes, it's true, I have trouble letting people in.  Well, unfortunately for me, in a story like mine, it helps to have some background.  In particular, we need a setting, a character history, and a plot synopsis.  That's a lot for one post, and a lot for me to divulge without breaking out into involuntary ticks, so I'll try to keep it brief.

I have lived an incredibly fortunate life.  My youth was glorious, high school was even better, and college opened my eyes to the nature of the world, and the contents of my soul.  But I will save all of that for a later post.  Because it's young adulthood that really concerns us, as it's the backdrop to this story.  And New York City, is the setting.  It's the place where I came into my own and tightened, for the first time, a lot of the nuts and bolts of my character that until then had careened around artlessly in my head.  I squared the free stones of my nature, and built a new and exciting life for myself.  One to be envious of.

Let it be known that I despise braggarts, and openly narcissistic personalities.  Bragging reveals more about one's fears and inadequacies than it does about one's achievements.  In this case though, it's necessary to talk about certain accomplishments in order to uncover the disparity between my former life and the one I find myself leading at present.  Showcasing my life pre-diagnosis will hopefully serve to paint a more comprehensive picture and candidly reveal the broader circumstances surrounding my fight.

By the age of 25, I had worked on campaigns, managed a city-wide project and 130 employees, written for a celebrity client, been invited to join a secret society, attended VIP parties, had a fight scheduled by the producer of UFC, been in a music video, played live shows at music venues, hung out with celebrities, and more.  I had been a lover, a fighter, a world traveler, a rock star, a poet.  There were pool parties, expensive liquor, bars where everyone knew my name.  And there were the greatest of adventures.  I explored my environment relentlessly, with the finest company.  I was on top of the world, in the greatest city in the world.  New York was more than an oyster, it was a playground for the soul.  And I quenched my soul deeply and often, underneath its lights and between the five hearts of its boroughs.  The blackened canopy of lustful nights became as much a home to me as the house of my youth.  There were one-night stands, power struggles, and drunken arguments with cops.  It was, in fact, the life I'd always dreamed of.

My New York friends will laugh at this.  Especially the natives.  They grew up there, and they know it all -- the culture, the accessibility, the diversity.  They laugh at the starstruck tourists, the transplants, and the bridge and tunnel club.  I admired the ones who could navigate the intricacies of a complex machine that I had only until then dreamed of.  And a handful of them seemed to be in possession of certain secrets, or answers to questions I'd obsessed over all my life.  I attached myself eagerly to these few, for good or for ill. What no one will tell you is that New York is abuse, from the minute you wake up to the minute you pass out, drunkenly, in the apartment you can barely afford.  Surviving there is its own career.  And those who choose to try are either out of their minds or, like anyone else, simply conditioned to their environment.  But all of us dream of something more, and wherever we claim citizenship, it isn't fair to say that it's the most courageous of us who act upon that dream.  It could the most curious, the most ambitious, the most cold-hearted, or the most dreadful of us.

Of course, life in New York, as with anywhere else, is sometimes very simple.  Sometimes the most important thing is finding a place to pee on the way home from the bars.  Sometimes the most important thing is finding out if the eyes across the room are for you.  I had explored those things and plenty more.

My last few months in the city were some of the best months of my life.  And I know this because I don't remember much of them.  The number in my savings account warmed my heart, and I had no responsibilities.  I had just finished managing a project at Yankee Stadium, and I was doing what I wanted -- I was writing.  My friends and I began to embark on a series of adventures that would put Odysseus's journey to shame.  I wasn't afraid of anything.  Nothing in the world could scare me after I'd conquered the most intimidating location on the planet.  And then, after a few months of living like a prince, with friends that have come to be family, it all fell apart.  At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with cancer.

I'm not writing these words so that you'll feel sorry for me.  Mine is just a story.  Other people have stories too.  In fact, we all do.  Some of these stories are very similar to mine, some of them very different.  Each of us lives through a torrent of abuse in the time we are granted.  And we are all of us tested -- and not in any divine sense -- for the right to be warriors against insurmountable odds, for the right to exist.  Everyone fights, and everyone's battle is extreme in its own right.  As members of the same family, we should strive to try and make the battle as painless as possible, with all of life's benefits and opportunities as accessible to others as they are to ourselves.  Because we're all in this together.  And if we do have any God-given rights, the most important of them is, without a doubt, that we have the right to be nice to each other.