Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bad News, Good News, Really Bad News

I have had a pretty crazy week. I finally made the decision to turn my two year old car back to the dealership because the payments are killing me. It may be the smartest thing to do, but right now, it feels like a defeat. I know I'll feel better in a month when there's no car payment due, but right now... yuck. I'm fortunate enough that I think I can use my dad's old car until I can pull together a few thousand for a used car of my own.

I found out yesterday that my application to the MFA/Creative Writing program was accepted. I'm thrilled -- and scared -- and thrilled. I'm pulling together the little odds and ends they need in order to enroll me.

And I found out today that someone I care about is HIV-positive. It's someone I've known for years. Though we don't tend to go to each other's houses or out to dinner, and we've only attended a handful of social gatherings at the home of mutual friends, we have a long-standing friendship that involves standing around talking about things on a pretty deep level. We trust each other -- to listen, to be compassionate, to keep secrets. I've told him a couple of mine, he's told me a couple of his. Today, he shared a doozy. We were talking about exes and such, and he revealed that someone he'd dated a couple of years ago is positive. I prodded him about when he was getting tested. He shrugged me off, which I took to mean, "Yeah, yeah... soon... I promise." I implored a bit more, then said, "I don't mean to nag, but I care about you." I hugged him, and he held the hug and said in my ear, "I already have, and the answer is 'yes.'" Then, I was the one who held the hug, circulating the meaning of those words in my head. For a moment, I thought I might kind of panic, but the feeling passed.

"We all gotta die sometime," he said.

"But not today," I replied.

"No. Not today."

"And not tomorrow."

"Not for many tomorrows."

True enough. He is in good health, asymptomatic, taking his meds and vitamins, eating his veggies and seeing his doctor often. If anyone can manage this virus, he can. But my magical thinking brain had pretty much written off the possibility of yet another friend being positive. I'm an opera singer. The crew I sang with in the early 80's... well... let's just say, we're short a couple of tenors and at least one baritone today. My ex-brother-in-law died of the disease. My ex-sister-in-law (from a different branch of the family) also died of it.

I think somewhere inside, I figured everyone left in my circle is safe. You know that old joke about how "one in three people suffer from mental illness -- look to your left and your right -- if they're okay, you could be in trouble." Well, I guess I thought of HIV like that. When you weed out the "one in three" or the "two in five" or the "one in two thousand," you get this idea that somehow, your clan has gone through all it can. That's the "magical thinking" part of all this. It was childish. I know that now.

So, this has been a helluva week. From defeat, to victory, to "not so fast, cookie". I have much to process. I have to go finish reading The Odyssey.

That ought to take my mind off my troubles.


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