This is a beautiful and intelligent narrative on growing up in the culture of HIV/AIDS from its naming (as we all know it didn’t exist until they named it *sigh*) to today. This is not a third world problem. This is not yesterday’s problem. This is humanity’s problem today and tomorrow.
“The light that you would never see.
It shines inside, you can’t take that from me.”
Prelude to a Dance.
As long as there’s been AIDS, there’s been Madonna.
While the virus that causes AIDS predates Madonna’s fame, during the initial years of the outbreak the illness was referred to as G.R.I.D (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). It wasn’t until August 1982 that the disease officially became known as AIDS, after the CDC offered “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” as a less discriminating alternative.
The summer of 1982 was also when a catchy new track began surfacing in New York City clubs. The pulsating groove was infectious, even Sire Records fell victim to the infused beats. Later that October the record label signed a deal with the bohemian artist singing on the track, Madonna.
And so it came to be, like many gay men of my generation, my story came to be…
Dawn has been slowly slipping the sheet off of my skin, but now the full force of light is forcing itself on my bare and vulnerable form.
Numb slumber was so much easier. Why are there no blinds to shut out this light? I am not ready for the mourning.
It is little things. The pug that used to sleep with mom now sleeps with me. Yet every night (if you can call 4 to 6 am “night”) when we go down the hall she stubbornly sits at Mom’s closed door. I push her with my foot to keep her going just as I have to push myself to keep going. I choke up and beg her: Please do not do this tome!
I was on the phone to a dear friend who I have known since he was five. My mother was a friend of his parents and knew him from birth. We have long known that he was gay but he has remained in the closet. In talking, he was as blue as I because of the end of a relationship. He did not want to burden me when he knew how hard this has been on me. I told him, “Do I want to worry about my problems or yours?” so he told me. He was hesitant and vague about the details. I could almost hear the deep breath he took before he used the first personal pronoun He. Then the details came. I was hurt for his loss, proud for his strength, and so happy that he had at last felt comfortable enough in his skin to admit it.
As soon as I hung up the phone I looked to where Mom sat. I knew she would be so happy to hear that he had finally come out to me. I had actually forgotten for a minute until I realized that I was sitting in a rearranged room and that she was no longer there.
I looked down at the time on the computer the other night and noticed that it was terribly quiet for 8:30 at night. My first thought was, Mom must have gone to bed early. At times, it still seems like she must be in her room… hasn’t woken up yet or went to bed early. My brain will not wrap around the fact that she is dead.
Yet I wake. I have hit snooze as many times as I could manage. The blankets have been pulled off of me and the drapes opened. It is the first day in a new school. It is the first day of a new job. It is the first step in a new country where I do not speak the language or know the customs. Everything ahead is unknown and I do not know where to put my feet. I can only do one thing at a time. I put my feet on the edge of the bed. I rise. I shower. I put on my most comfortable armor. I make coffee (lots of coffee). I drag my feet as I look out the window to check the weather and test the waters.
Maybe I can call in sick and stall this job called life one more day.
This is the third day in a series of funeral rites for my Grammy. She wished to have a memorial, which was done on Saturday with the obligatory time spent with family and friends after. Requiem Mass was said on Sunday with yet another gathering to follow. Today, her ashes are interred with my grandfather at the Veterans’ Cemetery. As this was Grammy’s desire… I believe I could have gotten through this in her memory. Here is where the trouble lies:
No one will let this simply be about Grammy, especially where I am concerned. Every comment is about Mom and it very truly feels like services for her – services she did not want and services that – quite frankly – I cannot handle. Everyone is looking at me wondering when I am going to cry/scream/breakdown – never. We are not allowed to have emotions in my family… so why do we try to mourn?
Mourning is a public and mutual sharing of grief by very definition. It’s rituals and practices have always been more about the display of death so that others can share in it. That is fine… if one is able to do that. But if one has been raised in such a way that the public display of emotion is disgraceful, mourning becomes nothing but uncomfortable and more pain than comfort.
I cannot cry. In the last three days, I have shed not one tear. Oh… at home, when alone, when something strikes me enough to break through the numb haze – some tears have come. Even those get swallowed down though. I know that if I start – I will not stop. Personally, I do not believe in the public practice of mourning. I, like my mother, simply wish to be scattered someplace meaningful to me and my closest loved ones. I seldom go to funerals… and never for the deceased.
I do not need to go to a memorial to mourn or grieve for my Grammy. I memorialize her in small ways constantly. I wear the scarf she knit. My favorite coat is a suede coat with a fur collar that she gave me – vintage from the ’30s. I have many memories of her. I do not personally believe that she is in a position to care whether I am at her memorial or not. But there are other living members of my family that do seem to take some comfort in me being there. My best friend’s grandfather died not long ago – a man I loved well too – and though I would not have gone to the funeral for his sake, I went for hers. She needed me. I am just so frustrated by being expected to grieve publicly when that goes against my very nature… a nature passed down by the women I am being asked to grieve publicly for. Does that not contradict and disrespect their memory?
At least this ends today. At least this part of it ends today… the grief will never end, but at least I can keep it private and personal where it belongs – well aside from what finds its way here. There will be other traumas… cleaning through Mom’s things, scattering her ashes, and even just working my way through this. I still feel like I am swimming through jello and do not know top from bottom. But being expected to stand there and put on public display for the comfort of others – that ends today.
Probably pretty amazing that this is not even slightly morbid… well okay, maybe slightly.
Anti-rape underwear is a pretty amazing invention by Indian women to not only prevent rape but also to counter the culture of acceptable rape in societies that historically practice forms of benevolent sexism that actually accept the notion that men are inherently animals that rape women and that women not only need to accept this but are semi-responsible for the prevention through extreme submission to their menfolk. I will spare a more complex explanation of benevolent sexism… because it is not the salient point.
Picture wearing a gps tracking, alarm sounding, tazer (that isn’t even bad looking). Amazing.
Here is the rub… this still promotes the idea of benevolent sexism. It is women who designed this – promoting the idea that they are responsible for the prevention of rape rather than educating men. One step forward, two steps back – the dance continues.
Okay – maybe it means that I am getting better or worse – but a bit of lighter reading this time around folks.
Did you know that (especially when you are depressed & already prone to insomnia) mixing depressants and stimulants is a really bad idea?
I pretty much did already. So not going to lie right now. I am a woman of exceptional IQ – as evidenced by my ability to even type right now – and professional occupation with very bad personal habits. I do not eat, I do not sleep, & I have been medicated by necessity for crazy chronic pain issues for – oh 14 years now. We are talking major broken bones of the back variety – no playing games. This is when my grandmother hasn’t finally died of her own suffering and my mother hasn’t died suddenly – shockingly – and completely… yea.
So… that said, I have really not been sleeping lately. Medication has gone up on Dr.s orders bc of current events. I do drink. Maybe this is a good sign, because as I walked into my kitchen at midnight to make a drink – which I am still drinking which says a certain degree about how good of a sign it can be – I realized that part of my problem is possibly that I drink prob 2 pots of Cuban -> Turkish roast coffee with about two shots of rum per cup. SO a 12 cup pot – which is really 6 cups – maybe I only go through 1 or 1.5 pots a day. Still.
Answer to above ? Everybody. They have made the selling of drinks in the US with alcohol and caffeine illegal. Many bars no longer sell vodka/red bull for the same reason after litigation. Yet here I am at midnight watching my roku (I refuse to do cable tv when most of what I watch isn’t even aired in the US) and drinking something that is really stupid. Is it good that I realize that… don’t know. The hubby goes back to work tomorrow. Some day I must resume life as I know it. My grandmother’s services are this coming weekend and siblings are butting into mother’s affairs when they never bothered to care whether she lived or died in life (smelling grammy’s money asks the cynic – why yes). Perhaps key in all of this is instead of waxing morose of philosophic and cushioning myself in complete indulgent numbness – a thaw is coming.
Bloody hell. I am not going to enjoy what is to come, but it must. I also must pop off to the store come tomorrow to get something else to drink with my rum and some curry ingredients because I would sell my soul for some and there is not ONE Indian place in this entire <b>county</b>.