Now that my battle with Prostate Cancer is all but finished, I found this unpublished post while cleaning my files. I' like to share it...
I’m going to sit at the desk and let my fingers wander where they will. I have not been able to organize my thoughts for days, and I quit trying. I’ve been lazy. I’ve left myself wide open to the hot flashes, the fatigue, and moodiness attributed to hormone treatment. I'm going to type it away.
I often write on a prostate cancer page, where I can help the newly diagnosed. I can answer their questions and ease their minds because I've already been on that roller coaster. Fighting cancer is a one-step-at-a-time deal. It's a marathon, not a dash. There are no road maps. Besides the physical pains, the men who are newly diagnosed with this cancer are suffering emotionally and intellectually--as anyone who has read my earlier Cancer Chronicles knows. I have been afraid, angry, moody, and a general monster at times, and I will be again.
I’ve learned that fighting cancer is about determination and fearlessness, both of which are easier written than done. With the help of those who came before us, we learn that we are not alone.
On Friday, Trish and I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see an Alfred Stieglitz exhibit and a display of Cézanne’s card players series. I am a huge fan of black-and-white photography, and there was no way that I would miss the Stieglitz exhibit.
The Steerage, Alfred Stieglitz
Along with Edward Steichen, Stieglitz took photography beyond of the “point-and-shoot” approach and lifted it the into the realm of art. We wandered throughout the Museum aimlessly, stunned by the artifacts from King Tut’s tomb, where we tried in vain to decipher the fifty-foot murals, with their marching soldiers and hieroglyphics, and their goddesses and gods.
We hailed a cab to Greenwich Village for dinner at Monte’s, a famed, family-owned Italian Restaurant dug into a basement on McDougal Street. The bright lights of the nearby Arch poke in the front door. They have an out door cafe, with one table.
The chicken scarpiatta, perfectly served had a soothing effect. I drank a chilled Diet Coke--a vintage best served with a slice of lemon—and a hot decaf completed the feast. Except for the spumoni, of course.
It was Friday night, and the Village was buzzing with neon lights and barkers handing out passes for the comedy clubs. Bleeker Bob’s record store is still there, with its hundreds of vinyl LPs. The Café Wha. And the Village Vanguard, where my friend Ronnie Sav sometimes sat in on the stand-up bass with the Mose Allison trio.
Then he quit the music scene and joined Barnum and Bailey. He became the leader of the clowns. He took me into Clown Alley once. where I met Mishu, who at the time was the smallest man in America, and carried him on my shoulders backstage. Ronnie got me a floor pass, and I wandered under the big top during the show, snapping photographs of high wire acts, and the dazzling white horses and their gorgeous riders that circled the floor.Ronnie Sav was once on What’s My Line, where he stumped Dorothy Killgalen and Bennett Cerf. He later married his wife, a fellow clown, on elephant-back during a circus performance.
Our walk through the Village brought on mixed emotions. I wanted less glitz. I wanted more guys with long hair and beaten cowboy shirts hanging out by the fountain in Washington Square, selling acid and pot. I wanted to sit in the quiet comfort of the White Horse Tavern, writing drunken poems where Dylan Thomas wrote better drunken poems. I did not want the Tavern overrun with kids from NYU and tourists from Green Bay.
But all things change. It can’t be stopped. It’s why I probably won’t return to places Ibiza or Key West. They were frontier towns once. I'll leave them that way.
As we strolled on Friday, I realized that what had happened was that the place no longer belonged to me. I had to share it.
Trish and I laughed on the PATH train home. She sat across from me, and made pig faces at me, while no one on the car noticed. Or pretended not to notice. In New York a giraffe could walk through Times Square undisturbed.
The uptown bus was just pulling out as I banged the window. “Thirteenth Street,” I said as I fumbled for change, eventually finding the seventy cents I needed for the seniors’ half-price fare. I got off on my corner, but before entering my apartment building, I walked down by the river and had a long look at the sparkling skyline we had just traversed.
The bright lights glimmered on the Hudson River, and thought to myself, “Yes, I still own a piece.” I turned back toward home.
The cat hadn’t eaten all day.