Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Time Off From The Rain


We knew our downstairs neighbor was dying. Chris told me one night about meeting him as he moved in with his parents.
"Our son is too ill to live alone, because of AIDS." He's lucky to a family like yours, Chris said.
Looking back to those days of 1991, I wish I would have spent sometime with him as he lay dying, but I wasn't strong enough. When I walked past his front door, on my way up to my third floor apartment, my imagined image of him grew more and more detailed, and as the weeks went on, so did the aura of sadness emanating from their home.
I knew the day had come when he had passed, when on one Sunday morning, I saw his family getting into a big black car, on Sheridan Road, in front of our apartment building. I sat at my window and watched and waited for them for what felt like an eternity for them to drive off, on that cool sunny day.
The women were buried under their expressions of grief, and the faces of the men bore a quiet compassion for their women.
Chris, Cath and I left some flowers at their door. He was he first person I knew who died from AIDS.

During this time in 1991, Chris and I took the bus downtown every Sunday for the parties at Cairo and The Victor Hotel. The bus let us off a good mile from Cairo, and I looked forward to this time with him, as we crept through the deserted city streets. On the way to Cairo we had to pass Limelight, which had just closed or was about to, and we regaled each other with the stories of our past glamorous lives. Here we were now, just scraping up enough change to take the bus. Thank God we were already stoned. I have no idea how we got home.

I call 'that place' The Victor Hotel, because I rarely had a good time there. Cairo wasn't a whole lot better, but I distinctly remember thinking a few times, This is fun!, or I wish this place was a little funner!. At the Victor Hotel, it was always: This is no fun. And I got into a lot of fights there. The exceptions being the night the Live Brady Bunch performed the Johnny Bravo episode with Eve Plum, and the night Deee-Lite performed. But by the time they went on we were so wasted we barely remember it happening.
At Cairo, Chris and I stood off to the side and watched the action on the dance floor in the basement, wondering aloud why the revelers looked so happy. Were they faking it? Was it drugs? Drugs never made me that happy. They made me take off my clothes at inappropriate times, but never happy, I confessed. Yes, you do that, Chris said.

My love life was a juggling act between Mark and Skip, I loved them both and had different experiences with them, but it was really the same: Mark was having a hard time dealing with the death of his ex, who ODed, and Skip was still living with his ex, whom he thought he still might want to be with. I remember wishing they could just be present with me, here and now, but I guess it's hard not to drag all those past lives around with us.
In essence I think I saw them as life preservers; something to grab onto as a way out of the sea of drugs and booze and self pity I felt I was drowning in. It's one thing to grab onto someone and say help me, than to just grab and grab and keep grabbing.

I did manage to find some fleeting moments of peace of mind, when the chatter in my head, fix you life! get better! want to live! was quelled, when everything was perfect, usually in the dark quiet moments in the early morning when I woke up next to Skip or Mark. I prayed for the second hand to stop moving, wanting as much time with them at that moment I could get.
I also found those moments on Sunday afternoons, when I lay in bed alone reading for hours. Catcher In The Rye, Boy Wonder, the liner notes for Louder Than Bombs, a story about City Of Joy, the new version of The Stand, to name but a few. I dreamed about having the power to create the worlds these authors created on paper a reality. I wanted to create a perfect world I could walk into and never leave, if I wanted.

I walked many many miles that year I lived with Cath and Chris, sometimes it would take me hours to get home. (I've always been kind of antsy) Hours and hours spent in my head, wondering what to do with my life, knowing I needed to make some changes, again, but not sure what or how. The grip I had on my life was getting harder to hang onto, and the siren call of let go was getting harder to ignore.
My lease was ending soon, and I didn't know where I was going, but I knew if I wanted to let go, it would be better to live alone...


Time off from the rain.
the beat goes on.