Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Tangled Mess

Respecting the holographic nature of the universe, I am taking a moment to go back and unravel the week before my trip. Now that the mysteries of Jenny's Brain have been revealed, the metaphor comes clear.

Because international travel is so, um, foreign to me, I was doing some serious worrying before I left. Packing and travel are huge challenges for me, partly from the ADD and partly from wanting to always have the right thing to wear but not knowing where I was going.  Plus, steel-trap mind like mine, I had to think through everything that might go wrong.

I remembered observing, as a child, that the worst you imagined would never ever was always something different. So I ran the scenarios. What if my family got sick, what would I do? What if the plane crashed? What if my luggage got lost? Running different scenarios both assured me these things wouldn't happen and helped me prepare.

But when Jenny couldn't make it down for our final Homeroom lunch because she had a cold, I had a bad feeling. Like maybe this whole thing wasn't real. Or that it was too good to be true. I went through all my dark feelings, which I've learned are normal before I travel (even to Disneyland). We've been friends a long time, and sometimes our plans come together, sometimes they don't.

So when the question came up: should I cancel the trip or go alone, I was somewhat prepared by my anxiety, but I still had to face my greatest fear: making the wrong choice.

The thing that was going on in Jenny's Brain is called an AVM: Arteriovenus Malformation. See, normal arteries go into capillaries, and cappillaries go into veins. But with an AVM, the arteries go directly into veins, and blood goes too fast. Trying to fix the problem, the body creates new veins to bypass the problem, and one ends up with a tangled mess. In this high-pressure situation, a vessel can burst and cause bleeding. There was a pool of blood in her brain the size of a walnut.

I felt as if my own brain would explode from the pressure of the situation. This is exactly what I had worried about. Had it been a premonition? Or did secretly want this to happen and the Universe knew it? I went through every feeling, twice, three times, and then slept on it. I dreamt of leaky pipes, missed planes, big family events. 

We had insurance and could cancel the trip, but what would become of my Nth birthday fantasy? The decision was agonizing. On Monday, our day of leaving, I realized I could decide not to decide until I had enough information. On Tuesday, the voices inside and outside my head were clear: I had to be as brave as Jenny. I had to figure out a way to do this.

The beautiful places we had chosen no longer held any allure for me. To see Assisi and Florence alone would be a lonely trip. I would just go visit Alexa. Which has been the main reason to go for over ten years. When I told Jenny I would now be flying out of Venice during Carnavale, she insisted I should go, since I knew someone who would be there, who could invite me to a ball. Even that idea intimidated me; I do adore costume parties but I hardly know this gal. "You have to go," she said. "For both of us. I'll pay for the ticket."

I often feel as if my own life, like her tangle of veins, sometimes has so much powerful energy surging through it that I miss the nourishment. This was certainly one of those moments. Jenny's blessing filled my heart so powerfully I thought I might burst with love. Like a volcano.

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