Before I knew what it meant to be happy, I knew what it was like to have a feeling of dread.
There might have been a “happy” in the time before my current memories. I could be lurking in the shadows underneath the scars created by a metric ton of heroin and an ocean of booze. That “happy” was not verbal, it was not a thing that could be summarized in words. That happy was an innocent notion of life, a belief that all things were possible. That happy involved sandboxes. That happy involved walking barefoot. That happy was lovingly handing over a flower. Happy was before consciousness. my father informed me that a dandelion was a weed. Up until that point, I had believed. I had believed I was holding the ability to make my dreams come true right in the palm of my hand simply by scattering parts of the “flower” in the cooling breeze of fall.
There are a thousand poems to describe what beauty means. None of them adequately describe you. I reach out to hold your hand. You interlock our fingers, provide a supportive squeeze. The way you turn the coffee around when you hand it to me so the opening faces my direction. If I have a hair out of place, you are there to push it in the correct direction. You find a way to brush off a stray eyelash before it painful greets my eyes, fully open to soak in the vision that is you.
I had a crush on a porcelain young man. He was tall with translucent blonde hair that crawled down his neck like a vine, sticking to the edge of the collar of his shirt. His broad shoulders were the perfect place to rest my tired mind. His hands were big and soft. He had fingernails that were meticulously manicured by a biting action that was occasionally used on necks. His stomach was taunt. His legs were covered with sores. I will get to this later.
I had a crush on him, yes I can admit it. I pursued him in my own awkward way. Not to seduce him. I had no skills in that area, unless money was involved. He had none. I just wanted to know what it would be like to be next to him, in his presence. It wasn’t hard but it was impossible to achieve. He was mostly gay. I was mostly straight. We would sit on his futon, commiserating on lovers that scorned us both.
“I have AIDS,” he told me. Everyone called it THE AIDS in my sphere of influence. It wasn’t HIV or even the virus. That was much later when the AZT became part of our vernacular. Right now, it was the AIDS. But he actually had the thing, a thing a girl from Ohio could not really understand. What does that even mean, my eyes must have said to him. “It means I am a lost cause…” He handed me my syringe.
I am the patron saint of lost causes. I am a lost cause myself. In this place, in the moment, can’t we just be here. NO no no. I am not sure what you are thinking but no. “I am dying…” and he is almost dead. The room smelled like a combination of litter box and death. It was no larger than 6 feet by 8 feet. Not much larger than a jail cell. A divider was used to separate the futon from the mattress on the floor. This provided some illusion of different spaces. Computers were stacked on top of each other. Each a project that was/would never be finished. Take things apart, put them back together (correctly) was the idea. To sell them, he told me. I nodded without completely understanding him. How much time was left, I wondered to myself. I selfishly wanted some of that time. He came around his divider in a silky bathrobe. I saw his legs that day. I wanted to touch them. He told me I needed gloves. “To touch you?” Really, that’s what we believed. I cannot touch your legs without gloves. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I left.
I am sitting on my bed shooting heroin now. I am sitting on my bed sticking myself, cross eyed from lack of sleep. The vein on the back of my arm keeps rolling. I tie a shoelace around it to hold it still. Someone is pounding on my door or is that the blood behind my eyes. I can’t see a thing until my swollen eyes slowly part. I am on the floor. I didn’t die this time or the last time or the time before that time.
If I give you anything you ask for does that mean “I love you too”? “ Friendship is an undefined thing, two bodies trying to sleep while our legs twitch. Maybe you should see a doctor. “I already have…” is always the answer. “There is nothing they can do for me” is never an answer I can accept. One day I’m not so beautiful. I’ll be stuffed with tubes and covered with wires sitting in a diaper. Maybe I would rather die like this Tracey. I’ll try to understand.
Things I don’t want hear go in one ear and out the other. I shake the pillow, knocking off the truth.