The first week of June is a bit of a blur. It was my last week in Toronto before heading out west and then overseas for over a year, and I had to wrap everything up. I was selling my place, meeting with lawyers, handling finances and papers, packing and compartmentalizing my current and future life, turning my home into a sterile, model apartment; preparing for my research proposal defense, writing grants, revising an ethics review, putting together a research visa application, clearing out my office. Not that it was necessary, but a visit to the dentist and diagnosis of my teeth grinding at night confirmed the fact that I was stressed.
More alarming, however, was the news that came a few days before my proposal defense, after a trip to the optometrist, emergency room, and corneal specialists. I was diagnosed with a stem cell disease in both eyes. Practically, this currently translates into impaired vision and no more contacts. I look through distorted corneas. The two days in and out of the hospital generated enough fear in me to last the year. Waiting for hours in rooms full of other patients invites every negative thought to fester, and suddenly paranoia becomes second nature. But amidst my worries that I was going blind, or dying, I found a certain gratitude in having the gift of vision, of being able to look through my camera and see the world, albeit through imperfect eyes, in that very moment.
Every so often I stare off into nothingness and imagine a calm beyond the chaos of the here-and-now. The pain doesn’t necessarily dissipate; it’s always there. But I think the longing itself carries with it some sort of solace, like a quiet place, a light breeze rustling the leaves of a tree, a sustained dusk, golden in the valley, that I can in some sense visit, and stay for a while.
Music: rufus wainwright – zebulon. This is the most played song on my itunes thus far this year. The story behind it is poignant, and the yearning, set to the chime of funeral chords, says more than I could in my own words.