Saturday, September 10, 2011


C just called from Jerusalem to ask how I’m doing with my cancer.
There. There’s a sentence – a thought, a concept – I could and would not have imagined a year ago.

She’s now working for the Israeli consulate in Guangdong Province and – since I met and wooed her and we later parted – has traveled almost more in the almost 10 years we’ve known each other than I have in my 58 years.

Oh. The cancer. That’s a whole new country, too. One no one should have a visa for. A terrorist state. Not sunny Jerusalem, where she said, laughing a little, that locals were asking to be photographed with her. “Chinese are everywhere in the world, but not so much in Israel, I guess.”

“Now you know what it’s like to be a foreigner in China,” I said, recalling the countless times I’d posed with Chinese tourists for photo and video shots waving and smiling, white hairy arms around smooth shorter shoulders.

She mentioned an Asian classical musician who’d held a concert near her hotel who was advertised in a yellow dress. “I’m wearing yellow today. Four people have complimented me on my ‘performance’ and asked for my autograph.”

I avoided details about the colon cancer. Kept it vague. I’m on the mend, I just said. Getting better and hoping to be back in China by the end of the year. Didn’t mention the bag I shit in now and how I can’t recall my last erection, and the gauze packed surgical wound crossing my belly aches continually looks like a ragged combat zone.

It’s new territory after years of feckless and occasionally responsible living. Completely unexpected, unwelcome, of course, and nothing like the fund raising ads I see of cheerful ordinary and famous people holding signs saying things like “Cancer, you’re out!” I’m still in the “Cancer, what the fuck?” stage. I can do nothing but wait.

I try to block it all out for a minute and instead imagine eating oranges in Jerusalem with my ex dressed in yellow, nudging her a little to sign some autographs.