I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I haven’t posted in some time! While I have been incredibly busy, I have also been putting my writing in a box. And it’s time to change that, starting now.
If you follow me on social media, you probably learned that I am in a new relationship. I don’t know if you have seen the Match.com commercial of the woman enthusiastically telling everyone, including the police officer who stopped her for a ticket, “I met someone!”. That’s kinda been me lately, and I don’t have much shame about it. I’m really proud of the person I am with, what they have accomplished, and the space I met them in.
THE CANCER SPACE. DUN DUN DUN.
You read that correctly folks. In this club nobody wants to be in, some pretty amazing things can happen. And I find that really incredible. I’m going to delve a lot deeper into this new, crazy, beautiful thing later. But right now I wanted to share with you a lesson that I was reminded of this week. One that I hope will encourage you this holiday season.
On paper, Tommy and I shouldn’t work. We just shouldn’t. I could list you all the reasons, but the relevant one for this post is that he is from Western New York and I am from East Texas.
I kinda feel the gasps and mouth covering from here, so let’s tone it down guys.
I sincerely hope you’ve realized at this point that I look at life differently. I always try to find the funny in even the most tragic of times in my life. While some may see our cultural challenges and say “that’s not for me”, I go “this is going to make some great stories and jokes” and has it ever. You might see a stand up special from me sooner than later with all the amazing material I am getting. This relationship was a great investment for my comedy career.
On November 23rd, during a chilly evening in Rochester, NY, I was out with my dude. We just had a fabled “garbage plate” (Rochester famous) at a place called Dogtown. It was my very first and therefore a rite of passage I needed to complete. Tommy smiled happily across the table while after each bite I proclaimed “this is delicious! wow! so good!”, knowing that my excitement wasn’t just an endorsement of the tastiness of the food, but also me accepting his culture with my full heart. I know he greatly appreciated my willingness to embrace everything we did that was uniquely NY.
Wearing winter clothes with my hand in his, we went back to the car. After driving to a dessert place and promptly finding out that it was closed for the day, we sat in the parking lot while he tried to find a solution. As he scrolled on his phone looking for options, he uttered a sentence that if I had my luggage, I probably would have asked to be taken to the airport (since we were in the car anyways) :
“Can’t have ice cream, that ship has sailed for this year.”
I looked at him the entire time he spoke it. I looked at him afterwards. I don’t think he noticed my facial expression of terror and confusion. Here I had this handsome, accomplished, caring, wonderful man next to me…but he said this. It was hard to reconcile.
All you non-Texans listen up. You know when ice cream season is? Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. 365 (0r 361) 24/7, baby! Ice cream is only off limits when you are on the low iodine diet, but other than that, ALL THE TIME. The cold doesn’t stop me either. I got in front of a fire, under a blanket, and in warm pajamas eating Blue Bell’s classic peppermint flavor with snow outside one year. No regrets. Now, Tommy swears ice cream season is April at earliest and October AT LATEST. And when the topic came up this week, I knew this had to change.
After about 30 minutes of texting my ice cream in winter stories, Tommy wondered what flavors do you eat in these times. When I explained seasonal flavors, he was amazed. There was a world where ice cream was never ending, and he wanted to live there. Tommy went on a beautiful and inspiring tangent that we should enjoy the foods we want, when we want them. Like breakfast for dinner? Don’t see why not! He was finally ready. He said he would stop by the grocery store Wegmans after work and see if they had ice cream.
Ladies and Gentlemen, when that time came my phone started blowing up with pictures and texts. Not only can you get ice cream in December there, but you can also get the seasonal flavors he was so fascinated with. He was overwhelmed by the selection and requested my many years of winter ice cream expertise. I told him to start with peppermint. As evident by this text, he said no.
Since I wasn’t there, I like to imagine the ride home. Did he pull his hood up so nobody could see his identity? Was he constantly checking around him for cops believing he had frozen contraband? Did he sheepishly drive up to his house expecting a SWAT team waiting from a anonymous tip made from that very Wegmans? I’d like to think so because it makes a funny story and even better point.
In a season with so many expectations: of where to be, what to do, and even what you eat, it isn’t possible to meet those all the time when you have cancer, a chronic illness, or health challenges. And you know what? That’s okay.
I hope you create a time that not only works good for you, but makes you happy as well.
I hope you let go of expectations and realize that isn’t what makes it a holiday or gathering.
And I really hope you are supported in all of this.
Tommy enjoyed his ice cream that night. Nothing bad happened. The only risk was stepping outside of his comfort zone and the letting go of the beliefs that prevented him for enjoying ice cream all these years. The holiday police don’t exist. Your mother-in-law might, but she cannot arrest you. All I want for Christmas this year is a safe, comfortable, loving season for you.
I hope you let go of any belief that might limit you from enjoying what you can in these circumstances and the courage of going outside your expectations. Eat the foods you want or are able to. Be around the people you want. And go, or not go, to as many things as you want. You aren’t doing it wrong, you’re doing it exactly the way you need it.
And that’s exactly right.