1/25

Beginning when I was 9 years old AIDS entered my consciousness, gleamed from celebrity deaths, bringing the original facts I had about homosexuality to me.   I learned of the need to doctor acceptable variations of myself, deferring to others to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating narcissistic chaos that ultimately resulted in implosion.

I was diagnosed with HIV on 1/25; Marvel Comics had published the death of the human torch.  And I was single.  I had contracted HIV after a break-up, and I indulged in work and play.  Numbed myself with drugs and experimentation.  I made a few poor choices.  In relationship of my youth I was a chaos creator, which resulted in me contradicting HIV.  The behavior was me shouting, Don’t act as if I was just something you accidentally stepped into.

When my ex eventually learned of my HIV-status in February 2011, a month after I did, I was told that ultimately, he felt betrayed.  As the summer of 2011 rolled in and out my ex’s cowardice told me he was unsure of being with someone with HIV, with me, because he didn’t want to catch HIV.

What’s horrible about dating with HIV is friends who set up – in their infinite kindness – forget that I have HIV.  The friends don’t anticipate the nerves that come with offline dating and having to revel status of a person that is liked and hopes like back.  If they do like back who is to say the HIV isn’t a deal-breaker?

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David is maddeningly confused

David is maddeningly confused.

David says has been spending evenings with Ex, who spontaneously stopped by. I only know Ex came-by since I sent David a text at about 3:30PM, when I was certain he’d be off his double shift. He was still working because he changed shifts. So, I asked what he did last night, even though I had already surmised the answer through a gut instinct. David, to his credit, was very upfront. Since I know the answer about what he’s doing and with whom, I wonder if I should even ask. See what he says if he even rings up being with the Ex. it’s not to trip him up because I believe already have made up my mind, but I won’t ask because it’s none of my business. If what David has said about the ex than what does it say about what David wants if he’s undecided about being with Ex. If it’s me vs. a club/drugged-out/abuser, that David must choose between, I can make that decision for him – by removing myself as an option. Should we had progressed, I wasn’t going to go forward having the thought that I was picked because Ex had changed their mind. I won’t think of myself as second choice.

I’m more disappointed that I couldn’t regain a sense of hope in dating, or the future. I wanted something to show that the risk was worth the benefits. I didn’t expect forever but something that shows I can date. What I got was wondering what is so wrong with me that an ex is appealing? I return to the old idea from when I was in high school – back from when I was 16 – that I’ll be journeying through adulthood alone. I always had a belief I would be perpetually single and alone.

When I was younger I’d hide my singlehood with the declaration I was too unique for a match. A wild horse. Any metaphor that makes me the gypsy or vagabond. A person living by the wind.

I’m mad that this David-experience feels like a repeat of my youth – guys would always choose their ex or another (such as their crush) over me. While true time has not decided who he shall choose I have a suspicion he will select Ex. I thought David was a different caliber of guy I was used to, but he’s the same.

Me vs. His Ex

By the Wednesday after my birthday, David reported that his ex is asking to take him back, and David tells me he is confused because the ex has had since May to ask him back, and he doesn’t know what to do.  They had been together for four years and even been engaged.  Apparently, David’s ex heard that he was talking to someone (that’s me).  From what David’s described was not a pleasurable experience, and was so bad he had to sell the home he had owned where his children grew up.  It was a borderline abusive relationship, with the Ex taking financial advantage of him.

David surprised me with a text reading, It was your birthday last week, and then asked if I wanted company.  I stated Yes.  Who was I to turn down an additional date that week, to the planned Friday to Saturday of the next night.  We had planned on me bringing my computer over and watching Patty Cake$.

That whole evening, as we sat on my couch, with David’s head on my shoulder I kept thinking David was just comparing experiences; Me vs. His Ex.

The biggest let-down is that for all the Ex’s biggest flaws they’re still not so grievous as to give David pause.

While I was unsure of the future, I was hoping I’d see that I can put myself out there and not be damaged.  A break-up or fizzle-out because of a miss-match I could handle, but not David’s unintentional douchery.

The next morning, I asked David if he wanted me to bring my computer over for a movie, like we had planned earlier.  David said that he couldn’t that night.  I had thought last night was in addition to tonight, not replacing.

David and I barely conversed that day, ending with me sending the first text asking how he was, and he said, “I’m good.  I’m always good.”  I heard echoes of my ex Ben’s, I’m Ben, no one worries about Ben.

I repeated my question to David, with a bit more authority, “You are not – you’re stressed about your ex and concerned about work.  How is everything?

He didn’t answer all the rest of the afternoon.

I sent David a text that evening asking how work was.  He didn’t answer.

Did David come over last night to cancel tonight to spend it with his ex?  Was it the ex’s turn to be compared to me?  It is really none of my business, but it kind of is if he’s cancelling to be with his ex.  I deserve to know (I guess).

My second text was, “Everything ok?”

Nothing.

 

New Year Optimism

A new year brings with it a refreshing first few days, when the year is barely known enough to be more than enamored, barely smitten.  It’s personality and the way it shows concern is quaint. I do like the year enough to hope.

David seems refreshingly sweet.  While he is not the antithesis of everyone prior, David does feel like an evolution.  Someone happy with their life, striving to do and be better, it is very difficult to put my finger on it.  He seems to have his act together.  Comparing David to my previous boyfriends is inaccurate because I am not the same person, and so am not pursuing the same type of man.  David seems like just that – a better caliber of person.

What do I want now?

We held hands which was nice – but I greatly was the clandestine rubbing of knees, the forbidden hand grazes, and secretly hooked fingers.  David’s open affection is a divergent course it isn’t unpleasant, or off-putting.  I enjoy it – but am unfamiliar.  David’s seemingly genuine concern is the same.  Perhaps, I have fetishized the underground code of homosexual life – removing the norm as stimuli.  It’s possible – have spent so much time with masks and hiding, dodging glances, and finding life in shadows.  There’s a lot about David that is brand-new to me.

He is divorced, has three college-age sons. I am unwilling to be a rebound, but if he just wants to have fun that’s OK too, if he tells me that’s what he wants.  Has it been long enough for David to be dating?  Or long enough for me to consider him for dating?

For my birthday on Thursday David came over on my birthday. While he suggested both going out or eating in, I went with eating in at my place, since he’d be parking on the street and that would be difficult to find a space again.  We ordered in from Red Fern and watched Call Me By Your Name; a very good romantic film.

Life is a Treadmill

My life is a treadmill where stationary is a synonym for sedentary.  I am constantly bogged down in the planning and minutia of life.  The big picture is in the plan, but the trees are too enticing.  I focused on the patterns, designs, clashing, and mixing I lose the trail through the woods. It took all my strength and energy to stay focused and not become distracted by gears in the clock.

Life requires experiences that provide a potpourri of emotions, and not the safe experiences that fall into the lap when home and being at work and exercising and reading.  Instead I have created discord between my routine and my goals, breeding familiarity as a crutch, and not a platform for change has become exhausting.  Structure is meant to create a safe framework for risks that have not been taken, avoiding repeating past cycles of self-abandonment, bending backwards to create a new personality that is more accommodating.

Goals center a being.  They keep everything in perspective, allowing balance to be the dictator of motivation.  The goals of my life morph but have always been rooted in the idea of creating equity.  The tool I have always wanted to use is writing.  Life is at times hacking away with the tools to see the path.

Maintaining goals’ timeline is a tricky proposition, finding the balance between what is necessary for life (job, family and/or friend commitments) with the artistic (experiences, solitude, and time).

The Season

I have never been a fan of the holiday season.  I love the holidays individually, but instead of being filled with cheer and joy in equal measure around me, I am filled with a deep consistence question of my value; a sense that at any moment everything will be discovered to be unearned.  A person becomes convinced that they have a pathetic unique ineptitude for life.  There is a screaming hyper awareness of flaws and errors.

I’m sorry I’m not taller

I’m sorry I’m not kinder

I’m sorry I’m secretly needy

I’m sorry I want to do it all

I’m sorry I don’t know how to share

I’m sorry that I don’t know how to slow down

When the gears shift it is never subtle, but is more akin to slamming on the breaks.  The opposite measure is less distracting because its immediate effects are the endorphins of shopping, great mood, and all around good-time making. Great stuff that gets outwardly rewarded by friends and coworkers, which mask the negative effects of spending sprees, inability to concentrate, or inflated self-esteem.

This does not come around once a year from November through January, but is a year-round cycle that only becomes heightened by The Season.  The Holiday Season itself comprises these two extremes on a national level.  There are those that shout proudly that they are grinches, and there are those that indulge in The Season beginning October 28.  Frenzied energy produced by the baking, obligatory parties, and shopping, fuels the self-destructive thinking and hopelessness.  I stay home, with hot chocolate and marshmallows, with Netflix, and quietly wait until after February.

Superficiality

In homosexuality the superficiality of idolized physicality was not me – the queer geek who’s the interests, experiences, and beliefs existed on the peripheral of popular.  I liked dressing in big sweatshirts and sweaters with oversized jeans; everything I wore was about disappearing my differences.  The popular straight boys, who got all the attention, were pop-idols and porn stars who looked like Justin Timberlake in Abercrombie & Fitch.  Not me.

Abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began pairing-off to experimenting with relationship dynamics, leaving me feeling alone.  I couldn’t go to local gay youth groups because I wasn’t ready for an identity label, which was rooted in the denial that was needed in high school to survive.  The homosexual teenagers I conversed with through the internet seemed so much braver than myself because they had found and proclaimed their inner authenticity.  Their assured identity, confidence in their labels – which had already been presented to their parents – gave them the bravery to ask to meet immediately.  I was incapable of reading other homosexual teenagers’ eagerness to meet as a shared isolation, and so made excuses as to why that couldn’t happen.

A Fictional Playground

The fictional playground that I have created is the city-state Pentapolis of the Valley, a dark urban fantasy setting combination of: my reality of Upstate New York, and my fantasy life imagined in New York City, London, and San Francisco.

The world that Pentapolis exists in is a combination of my fears and aesthetics.  The social ills of Pentapolis are rooted in inequity and isolationism, dressed in Victorian and Gilded Age construction.

Pentapolis of the Valley is located on the eastern coast of the United States, in the Hudson River Valley.  Pentapolis is a conglomerate of five cities, whose combined varied economic and political resources to form a powerful city-state, after an ecological disaster: The Genesis Revolution.  During that time, a large monolith emerged from Uuru, disrupting the fragile electromagnetic s igniting a new apocalyptic religion

I populated Pentapolis with characters based upon friends, who were then mixed with celebrity and historical facts.  I constructed the aloof Dorian Iacchus, the person I pretended to be and dreamt I could present.

In Pentapolis of the Valley, I constructed a world where scenarios and ideas can become thought exercises, followed through to their conclusion.

Home Floor Plan

My bungalow is in a handsome u-shaped French Revival-style exterior face of brown brick, sandstone, and panels of terracotta details.  A geometric wrought iron fence encases the backyard’s coy pond and fountain.  The courtyard reaches inside flooding the loft, creating ever-changing shadows and accents.  The porch is pale glazed brick, ornamental cast iron, Mexican floor tiles, and polished wood.

Overlooking the coy pond, is a small writing office with a square wooden coffee table and loveseat.  Through floor to ceiling glass doors is a particularly large salon; curtains are red and gold cotton.  A fireplace juts out from the brick wall, linking the porch and salon.

Inside, above the fireplace is flanked by floor to ceiling built-in shelves filled with antique books and candles.  A slim HD-TV sits on a rolling table out of the way.  In the center of the room is a rug, on top of which is a couch, antique Byzantine conversation couch, and two chairs huddled around a coffee table.  Strewn about the coffee table are periodicals.  Between the couch and the fireplace is an eight-person dining table, with two wing back black chairs at the heads of the table; the remaining six are three pairs of Edwardian chairs.  The parallel wall is lined in tiers trailing many feet to the ceiling is a large art collection.

French doors to the right of the salon lead to the bedroom, whose three walls are painted different shades of cement grey, with a fourth for the trim; the fourth wall is the large bubble glass that faced the courtyard.  A large Ottoman stained glass room divider obscured the bed from the glass.  A curtain rod ran across the ceiling with green and watermelon sheer curtains that could be drawn.  There is a Victorian fainting couch next to the French doors.  In the corner is a large mirror.  There are four armoires in the room: one against the wall to the side of the mirror, and the other three lined the parallel wall.  The wrought iron bed, with antique white European country chairs acting as side tables, are in the center of the room, with a black rug underneath.

Opposite the bubble glass is the bathroom, which is black and white art deco with subway tile, and accented with green and bamboo.  The free-standing sink, toilet and claw footed bathtub, are porcelain; the rainforest shower and fixtures are nickel.  There’s a small door across the bathroom entry that lead to a laundry room.

The kitchen is French rustic with plenty of work space that run along the walls, with a rolling island that allows the room to retain an open feeling.  There is light filling the white and natural wood filled room from a window that is over the in-counter brass country sink.  Storage and the pantry are beneath the counter space on display in glass containers.  The appliances are warm red and teal, designed to appear country and antique.  Eighteen inches from the ceiling runs a shelf around the kitchen that holds knick-knacks, which provide character that anchor the décor in a whimsical domestic fantasy.

The Forest’s Trees

Knowing the minutiae of events, the details needed to plan a day, and the trees of the forest become the goal of every day.  The big picture is in the plan, but the trees are too enticing.  It takes all my strength and energy to stay focused and not become distracted by gears in the clock.  Too much focus on patterns, designs, clashing, and mixing loses the trail through the woods.   To exist between the moment, focused on details, creates a life of managed crisis and devoid of stability.  Management sustains an imprisoning homeostasis, wherein activities are missed; and then isolation ensues.

Being overwhelmed can have a physical effect on the body.  It doesn’t always need to be pressure, but an overriding omnipresent emotion or anxiety from a routinely occurring event.  Triggers can be wide ranging from job promotion to routinely being around negative human beings.  The body and mind have reflexes driving actions towards knowable patterns – again the cycle repeats.  In the instance of myself it causes extreme stomach and back pain.  I begin feeling constant pain in my abdomen that doesn’t dissipate with consuming food.  Knots form under my shoulder blade or at the base of my skull as pressure becomes more consuming.

When the stress’ antecedent is removed, stamina must be regrown to fully participate and engage with life.  The road to mending is a slippery slope – anxiously re-entering the hamster wheel.  Life is a cyclical series of work, relax, work, relax.  At any moment during the early moments of recovery there is the nagging thought that the next quick cycle would be the trigger for another physical episode.  Regardless of the cycle that a person endures, breaking and starting on a new path is difficult to do.

Over time I have learned that it is okay to feel comfort in drifting within day to day.  I began doing this by actively choosing to go through the two boxes of print outs and read, which allowed me to see how much of my fictional cosmology has been told.  I began reserving weekends to take inventory of what I have produced.  I learned that days do not need to be a constant rush towards the goal line, but can be relaxed and taking inventory.  It is on those days, taking stock of what has been accomplished, one can be humbled by the steps that have been taken; we can pat ourselves on our own back.

Friends and inter-personal relationships assist with driving the new path, constantly grabbing the brakes by injecting day-to-day with vulnerable relatable stories.  While they are not trained cognitive therapists, friends and co-workers offer opportunities to relate anxieties, failures, and successes.  They provide conversations where automatic thoughts, which distort reality, can be challenged.  Then the automatic thoughts can be worked through and dispelled with a professional.

It takes a village.