General status update
Hair: Hangin’ on in there. I am not using superglue, honest: it’s all down to the Cold Cap.
Nausea demon: Feeling playful this morning. Wish I could just tell him to BUGGER OFF and leave me alone.
Chemo Muse: Her voice is growing fainter; boy, do we need some more steroids.
Chemo Brian: He is lovely – I’m even becoming quite fond of the long grey ponytail. Although when he plaits it, not so much. He’s the only one who understands just how much I need a little lie down right now.
Fatigue/weakness: this is supposedly the ‘good'week of the cycle, but I've had better, frankly: am still quite weak, and very, very tired, and all toxic inside; there isn’t really the energy available to contemplate more outings. I should eat some iron, start juicing, eat those disgusting dried algae pills. Maybe tomorrow.
Sleep, lack of: All I want to do right now is sleep. Just a little nap… mmmmm….
Anxiety level (1-10): FEC3 is in 8 days’ time. Not that I’m counting, or anything
State of mind: Deep in the trenches, slowly trudging along - hard now to remember a time when I wasn’t having chemo, or to look forward to one when I won’t be.
What do you do with a man who just won’t take no for an answer? The short answer to that, obvs, is ‘Take out a restraining order, sharpish’, but it wasn’t quite like that…
Remember that oft-quoted claim about how a single woman over the age of 40 has more chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a new life partner? It is, in fact, both inaccurate and misquoted, but there is an element of truth there, as many women of a certain age, single by force of circumstance, rather than choice, would probably agree.
So, take ‘single woman over the age of 40’ and add to that ‘living in a converted camel barn in a small town on the north Aegean coast of Turkey, and disinclined to look for love again at this stage of her life’ and the chances of such a woman finding a new life partner must plummet towards ‘would have more chance of being killed by a terrorist (one in three million each year, according to the Wall St. Journal) just after receiving the good news that she had just won the Euro Millions lottery jackpot ( 1 in 116,531,800)’ which, by my calculations, makes it odds of 349,595,400,000,000 to 1 (give or take a nought or two, and at that order of magnitude, who’s really counting?). And those odds are considerably higher still if the woman in question elects not to cooperate when loves comes knocking at her door.
The fact that R and I ever actually got together is thus one of the most statistically improbable events you will ever hear about - and yet, it happened.
The laws of attraction are complex, and operate largely on murky subterranean genetic, biological and psychological levels of which we are not even consciously aware: when you meet a person for the first time your conscious response to them is, unknowingly, an amalgam of the way you are unconsciously responding to them at these various different levels of analysis. When you meet someone in real life you know straight away whether you fancy them or not; it may be based on complexity, but the answer is simple, yes or no, to the underlying, unspoken question, based on our deepest biological drives to reproduce our genes: could I ever imagine getting naked with this person?
Either you fancy someone or you don’t – it’s usually not very complicated. And falling in love with someone – rather than falling in lust with them – is something that tends to follow on from this simple biological response, and involves all sorts of different modalities including personality characteristics, and social and intellectual common ground. On the whole, although not always, we tend to end up with partners to whom we are both physically attracted, and with whom we have a great deal in common in terms of education, social background, and shared cultural references.
What if you do the whole thing the other way round, though, and fall in love with someone’s mind, long before you encounter them in the flesh? It happens a lot these days, when people meet on the internet, and bare their souls to each other with the particular intensity that is possible between two individuals alone together in cyberspace, free from the social inhibitions and awkardnesses inherent in real-life encounters. It happens a lot, and it usually ends in tears.
In an age where many people now start romantic relationships via the internet, stories abound of people who have rapidly become besotted with men or women they have never met, and invested themselves emotionally in intense online relationships which have crumbled into dust immediately in the light of day, for the simple reason that when they finally met each other in real life, the requisite chemistry just wasn’t there.
I wasn’t looking to meet anyone at all – I was busy, in my little corner of the north Aegean: having converted my camel barn into a library, I was finally about to shelve all the 6,000 or so books I had been keeping in storage for decades, because I needed a library to put them in. Now I had achieved my lifetime’s ambition, and made myself a library all of my own, and there were fascinating questions of cataloguing, and subject arrangement, and category definition, to be dealt with.
I had the lost the love of my life, a long time ago, and felt lucky to have loved, and been loved, like that once in my life; I wasn’t looking to replace him. Meaningless flings, from time to time, were fine, but I had long ago come to terms with being alone in life. I had reached an emotional equilibrium, and wasn’t expecting to meet another soul mate, particularly not in a remote part of the north Aegean, in my middle years. It just wasn't going to happen.
But then, quite out of the blue, in the middle of a discussion about procrastination on Twitter , R waltzed into my life without so much as a by your leave, and his mind called out to my mind across the aether, in the manner of mastodons bellowing to each other across the misty primaeval swamps. As soon as we started talking, our minds just connected, like those old-fashioned dial-up computer links where the modems at each end recognise each other and start making high-pitched squeaky noises as the connection is being made. Our brains are remarkably similar, and like immediately recognised like:
‘Oh, there you are - where have you been? What took you so long?’
I’d finally met the other half of my brain, but it was 2,000 miles away in London, and it was probably attached to someone who resembled Jeremy Beadle, in which case it could never, ever work in real life. I also suspected that he might be rather younger than me - a HUGE negative from my point of view, if not, apparently, from his - and there were other circumstances that militated against our forming any kind of romantic relationship. Besides, he went to Cambridge, and I went to Oxford, so boat-race day would be sheer carnage.
Romance was thus completely, utterly out of the question; it was clear to me right from the beginning that R and I could, and should, never be anything other than cerebrally compatible cyber-friends.
R, however, had quite other ideas on the subject.
To be continued…