Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some Are Here And Some Are Missing

I've just been to Joe's blog, where I took in his latest and fourth installment of "The Mommy Box".

As I read, I became increasingly aware of a growing knot in my stomach.

Joe had thoughtfully supplied links so that his myriad audience could be clear about terms like KS and PICC lines. I thought about what a long time it's been since we've discussed our friends and loved ones using terms like thrush, neuropathy and CMV (look it up yourself).

Joe has chosen to relate this story in cliff-hanger fashion, a sure way to bring your readers back again and again, to which some of our most time tested writers will attest.

I perused the comments section, and in all 20 then posted, not one mentioned Tim. He's almost the invisible man to Joe's readers. The poor man's gone from porn star to skeleton and know one has seemed to notice.

Some weeks ago, while we were standing around guzzling beer, Joe asked me if I knew what a "Mommy Box" was. I did.

I also know what it's like to lose almost every friend I ever had to AIDS. I know what it's like to throw a suit in the trash, because I'd worn it to so many funerals I never wanted to see it again.
I know what it's like to see my best friend Barry, 28 years old, have a stroke and die, due to the toxicity of the drugs used to treat him. I know what it's like to see an entire generation disappear in a few short years, right before my eyes. I know what it's like to bear witness to all this, still standing, and wondering why.

And I've been thinking alot about this song by Neil Tennant & Chris Lowe:

I came across a cache of old photos
And invitations to teenage parties
Dress in white one said, with quotations
From someone’s wife, a famous writer
In the nineteen-twenties

When you’re young you find inspiration
In anyone who’s ever gone
And opened up a closing door
She said we were never feeling bored

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end

When I went I left from the station
With a haversack and some trepidation
Someone said: if you’re not careful
You’ll have nothing left and nothing to care for
In the nineteen-seventies
But I sat back and looking forward
My shoes were high and I had scored
I’d bolted through a closing door
I would never find myself feeling bored

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end
We were always hoping that, looking back
You could always rely on a friend

Now I sit with different faces
In rented rooms and foreign places
All the people I was kissing
Some are here and some are missing
In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be
The creature that I always meant to be
But I thought in spite of dreams
You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end
We were always hoping that, looking back
You could always rely on a friend

And we were never being boring
We were never being bored

I realize that most of what's transpired in the last 25 years means next to nothing to the generation that grew up after the Plague Years. I'm thinking at best, AIDS is now looked upon as a mere inconvenience, something regulated with medications, but certainly no big deal. I'm glad that it appears to have come to this.

I wish more people remembered what it took to get here.

8 Comments:

Blogger circleinasquare said...

We can't ever really understand the lives led before our own. I'm glad that there are articulate men willing to share their memories. Tell us more.

1:49 PM  
Blogger David said...

I missed it by about five years plus ten more of closet and denial. I've never lost a friend to AIDS but I have many how are positive. I know it's no picnic living with it.

A very moving post, and point taken about Tim. We are all behaving a little callously in our fascination with how Joe will get out of his predicament, without acknowledging that there is no way for Tim to get out of his.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

Joe burns so brightly, both in prose and in life, that he casts shadows on just about everyone else around him. I'll think about Tim when I read Part 5 of the Mommy Box.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Sheri said...

I'm ashamed of myself for not remembering Tim in my comments after I read the Mommy Box story. Joe doesn't dwell on Tim in his writing so I guess I didn't allow him to dwell long in my mind, unlike the suspense of what's going to happen next. Going forward, I'll be more aware.

I'm so sorry for being so.... human.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

The men and women of your generation are like surviving veterans of a terrible war. I know the guilt you feel from simply living when so many wonderful people died so young. Those same people would be proud of men like you a Joe who remind the ever growing younger generation that they must not take this illness lightly. You remind us that there is just too much at stake. For that I thank you.

btw: I love that pet shop boys song.

-Sam

11:06 AM  
Blogger seymour said...

Last time I checked, AIDS isnt over!
The tsunami of grief fatiuge from when we were dropping like auntunm leaves has subsided, but there are still fellas outthere wasted on crystal, barebacking like it's the last rodeo.
You are one that made it through and for that are an unique rare (sexy) breed, the hot daddy. We need you like the aboriginals have tribal elders. To pass on the stories that are lost with our dead lovers, friends and brothers.
We all have a responsibility to honour the ones that gone, to live our lives in a great gay way, to be positive, in the optomistic sense. Or we've all lost.

"Why in the world are we living here,
surely not to live in pain and fear"
(instant karma) John Lennon

"grow old with me, the best is yet to come"
(john again)

Merry xmas Mark, a huge hug across the ocean

7:00 PM  
Blogger Zeitzeuge said...

Somehow despite being poz myself for 13 years, I've never lost anyone really close to me. Most were casual friends and acquaintences. I currently have one best friend who barely has made it through this year though. I dread the day something happens to him if things don't turn around. I can't imagine what it must have been like back then.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I came out of the closet in a small Oklahoma town in 1987, when I was 17. This was in the middle of the AIDS bloodbath, of course. People were dropping like flies, and even in our little town it was being noticed (thanks to ACT UP and other such organizations that insisted that the media cover the carnage). Given the very festive sexual appetite I had back then (and still have now), I often realize that if I had only been born 5 years earlier I too would likely be dead. And I realize that my generation of gay men had to come of age without what we truly needed at that time... role models to show us what adult gay life could be like. The only men like me that I saw were either somewhat reclusive men who lived lonely lives in the small low-ceilinged houses in my town, or men who had come back from the city to try to deal with the plague. Many people in my generation responded by abandoning as improbable any expectation of a future and expecting that someday we'll all probably die of this disease that was claiming so many who had come before us. I wonder if the meth craze among us might be an outcome of this nihilistic outlook. I don't know. All I know is that we don't have to have lost all our friends to realize what had come before us. We know all about it. And it continues to shape who we are becoming. It is shaping the generation after ours as well. AIDS began the dialogue with the straight community that is now resulting in the younger generation (high school age to mid 20s) to regard a gay or lesbian sexual orientation as much less of a defining characteristic than it was for people my age and older. As we become integrated into more and more communities, homosexuality has started to be regarded as what it really is... a fact of life. It's not bad, it's not transcendent...it just is.

We know what came before. It's part of our collective consciousness.

11:57 PM  

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