And in one weeks' time...

In six days, I'll pack up my room. I'll dump out the garbage bags that hold my stuff from my apartment in the East Village. I'll shove things into suitcases and I'll wonder how many pairs of underwear to bring.

How can I know how many pairs to bring when I don't know how long I'll stay? I'll need to go longer than the days of the week. But how much longer?What do the Good People® do in this situation?

With a week to go before I leave, I am focused on the very small picture, the one that fancy TVs have at the bottom of their screen. I'm focused on the E! channel and not CNN.

I'm wondering about the silly things, the tiny minutiae of daily life. I'm thinking about bathing suits and gym memberships. About car insurance and tire changes and whether I should get AAA. (Or if I should go to AA.) I'm asking Rachel--are there good laundromats in LA, like Kim's Laundromat in NY, who faithfully did my laundry every two weeks for $15? It only took them two hours to clean, wash and fold. Will I find a place? Will I do laundry on my own in Los Angeles?

What I really mean is this: will I be different in Los Angeles? What will be different in Los Angeles?

I'll drive. I'll drive in LA, and that's new. I'll buy a car and look for jobs and put on black pants that are too tight and I will go to interviews. I'll babysit. I'll go back to Skylight Books. I'll be happy when my friends are visiting, and I'll be sad when they leave. I'll sigh peacefully at the beach and sigh woefully in traffic.

In a week, I will live in Los Angeles.


After I wrote this, I looked through my old Flickr stream and what did I see but this--

November 2008. My first solo trip to California, a trip where Rachel and I pinky swore that we'd live here together one day. She was already there but I was in New York, home.

I came home on the red eye the Monday after Thanksgiving. I got out of my relationship and moved into Brooklyn and then the Lower East Side and then the East Village and there were other jobs, and boys, and fun mistakes but the entire time, I thought...

I just know I'll go to California one day.

I was right.

It just took some time to get here.


Sayonora, summer.

I quit my job and left New York on August 1st, almost two full months ago. That's a simple fact, something I can grasp and understand and remember.

It was a strange summer. But when August came, I was at home and so was Gen. We decided to enjoy our August, our late-summer regression.

And we did. We floated between bars in Asbury Park and Belmar, making bad decisions, proving that although we have learned much since we were 20, sometimes it was okay to forget that for awhile. We were on the rebound, from jobs and school and relationships and emotion. "We literally have nothing to lose!" became our battle cry, before we swilled down cheap vodka and set off into the evening. One step forward, two steps back.

When the morning broke, I walked the dog and felt myself--my body, my brain, my heart--settle. My heart rate slowed. I threw out the Xanax. My thoughts became simple sentences, a break from the anxious meanderings that have so dominated the last three years.

I slept better than I have in years. I slept through July, August and September.

But with the quick passing of this month, I know that summer is over. That our lapse from real world responsibility is gradually coming to an end and with it, a change.

I'll leave here in 12 days and wonder what Los Angeles will bring. I'll look into the future with something new--optimism.

I have always been able to predict the bad, the shitty things. When I was young, I was sure I'd get cancer one day. (I did.) This year, I knew I wouldn't go a year without a hospitalization. (I was right.)

These things are no accident.  There is a reason that I have been stubborn and there is a reason that I am finally changing.  

Thoughts become things.

I've let myself wade through it all, an innocent passerby to my own life. But this summer, for all its regression and wine, taught me the value of playing an active role in your life.

And it feels like waking up.


In Which I Try To Become A Better Human Being, or: Camping.

My name is Kelly, and I'm a dependent human being. (Hi, Kelly…)

It's common knowledge to all those close to me that I'm sort of...lazy. And tired. My family and friends (more commonly known as my minions) have been known to cook for me, to get me water when I ask for it, and to do my laundry when I'm sick all of the time. It's pathetic and embarrassing, but also so funny! For everyone to joke about! And um, really convenient for me.

So when I signed up to go camping in Colorado for a few days, I knew I was going alone, still weak from the past few months years. I was aware of the distinct possibility that I,  Kelly "The City" Bergin, would have to to pack my own bags and actually paddle and camp and do all that stuff. By myself. Without cell phone service to even tweet about the horrors.

(I think most people would be nervous to be stranded in the desert with complete strangers, but I woke up in cold sweats dreaming about having to put together my own tent.)

But I survived. I think I may have even thrived, for a few seconds there. My nickname on the trip became 2.0, because I constantly noted how a new version of Kelly Bergin was emerging. Kelly, 2.0.

There's something to be said for actually stepping out of your comfort zone, instead of just dreaming about it. I talk a lot of shit about ways I am going to change—plans to eat better, go to sleep earlier, exercise, write…but I never actually do it. Instead, I end up eating Fruity Pebbles at 3 am and watching montages of ER's famed couple Carol and Doug on YouTube. (This is totally not happening right now.)

I came back from the trip renewed, motivated to actually make some tangible changes in my life. This was never more apparent than yesterday, when I stood in a place far more foreign to me than nature: the cookbook aisle.

I haven't actually opened Vegetarianism for Dummies yet, and I did just send a panicky text to Gen asking if I could still eat eggs, but I'm confident that my new diet and exercise plan will make me feel better. And although I’ve had this fleeting thought before, I’ve never actually believed that I could feel better. I've only ever known what it's like to be sick and dependent on others for help. Illness is so deeply entwined with my identity that I wonder who I might be without it. I might just be someone who does her own laundry and doesn't use the motto "one life!" as an excuse to drink and accidentally make out with men who have neck tattoos.

I've spent so long stubbornly avoiding change, because I believed that by changing to accommodate my illness, I would not be normal. And for years, that is all I wished to be.

I felt something new as I paddled (okay...floated) down the Colorado River. For the first time in a long time, I felt empowered to gain control and take responsibility for my own life. Peace, in the form of a one way ticket to Los Angeles and a vegetarian cookbook.

And that's all I really want.


Important Things I Learned From My Trip:

1) How to pronounce quionoa. Hint: it does NOT rhyme with granola. Lesson learned.

2) When attempting to moon an Amtrak train that runs parallel to the river, watch your ass on the rocks. I have a bruise on my tailbone the size of Colorado.

3) Colorado is pronounced how it's spelled, not COLORADAAAAA (that one's for you, Mom.)

4) I can go 4 days without Junior Mints, shattering my previous Mint-free record of six hours.

5) Usted is not pronounced YOUSTED.

6) Never ask how many feet sea level is if you want to be taken seriously as an intelligent adult. (Note: It's zero.)


Please consider checking out and donating to Solo Survivors. And thank you to everyone who made this trip possible— especially Tracy Maxwell and Alli Ward. Connecting with other cancer survivors was truly an amazing experience, and I remain in awe of those I met on the trip. Thank you.