Wednesday, September 26, 2001

tuesday night
It looked like I was getting somewhere in the chatroom.... some guy immed, we did the preliminaries (where are ya, what you like doing, etc) I already had his pic from some previous attempt, and he had a handsome, well, more importantly, a kind face. I didn't mention that, thinking it could be too scarey to hear "I want you to take me in your arms and hold me and help me forget for a little while"....... While not commenting on the pics I sent, he sent the same face pic that I already had, and then an additional one of his "equipment", which looked more than adequate. But it seemed to fizzle when I told him I could be there in 25 minutes, taking a shower first. I left the computer on while I bathed in the hot comforting water, knowing he was no doubt searching for someone else, or getting ready for bed.

Getting dressed, I immed him again, and he was going to bed. I had already decided I needed to get out of the house, and the Phoenix has their 2-for-1 drafts, so that was the back-up plan. Leaving the apartment, I saw our 5th St memorial looking it's most pitiful, and I stopped, and only for the second time in the past 2 weeks, I lit some candles. I don't know why, I just couldn't do it in public before, somehow the implicit pressure to do it made it feel less genuine for me, and here I had the opportunity to have a quiet moment, out in the fall night air, and struggle with the cheap candles and get a few lit, tuck them safely inside the cardboard box contraption that had flags, notes (some I agreed with, some were clearly too harsh and vengeful), and markers to add your own thoughts. I got up, started to hop on the bike, and found myself mumbling tersely "why can't you just find one person down there, give us one small thing to celebrate, be happy about?" Yeah, my eyes were full, and when I got to the corner, I briefly considered going south, towards the "frozen zone", but I didn't want to be alone, and I even thought that maybe it could happen while I wasn't looking - not glued to the tv, not circling the lower part of Manhattan, that I could be selfish and drinking myself stupid and someone would run into the bar with the news.....

Well, the first beer went quickly, I chatted with one bar-buddy, then moved myself over to an isolated spot, partially to get a better view of a cutie, partially to not have to talk if I didn't want to. Some things never change - the two boys I found most interesting-looking wound up together, snuggling and stoking each other's bodies. I didn't even have the energy to be jealous or envious, just, "oh well" One more beer, some sad sounding song on the jukebox played, and I struggled to memorize the name so I could find and download it today (Pissing In The Wind, I think?). The Cock was darker and louder, and I started to look for a spot to sit and light up a joint. This handsome guy was looking at me, staring actually, and then a smile (or was that gas?). I didn't even notice that sitting near him was someone I knew, who called out, and motioned me over - giving me the "excuse" to be able to sit next to the guy. He immediately leaned into me, and my hand went to his shaven head, rubbing it firmly, and then his head was in my chest, as both my hands were touching him. It felt real good to be affectionate, to feel like I was reaching out. But he was real drunk, which, in a way, was good. It made me decide real fast that I didn't want to go home with him, just sit and enjoy the chance to be physical, to be less insular. He eventually suggested we leave, and I begged off, saying I was too drunk (I wasn't, not yet, anyway). He didn't argue, he just pushed his head back into my hands, saying all I needed to do was rub his head, and he'd be happy. For a while, this was fine; but soon it occurred to me that it wasn't a mutual thing - I mean, we were affectionate with each other, but it was more "simultaneous" than mutual - which can sometimes be fine, but not last night; my thoughts were elsewhere, sad, overwhelmed. He soon detected I wasn't doing so well, and asked what was wrong, and I thought several not-so-nice replies, none of which I used, thank-god. I simply told him it's complicated, nothing personal. Not immediately, but eventually he decided to leave, gave me a big kiss, but not before attempting to pull my pants down and chew on my stuff (confirming my gut feeling earlier that going home together would be a bad idea).

Finally I was able to smoke some pot, alone, and sit and think, and be sad in public, in the dark, with loud music. But even the disco music got to me when Machine's "There But For The Grace of God Go I" began playing. Somehow, I had for 2 weeks not felt, at least consciously, concerned about myself, my own safety. Then I began thinking about the first ACT-UP demo I had gone to, back in 1988 or '89, at City Hall. The issue that day was that there weren't enough hospital beds for PWA's, and so they were demonstrating with bedsheets, the theme being "Here Are the Sheets, Where are the Beds?" I say "they" because I did not yet consider myself a member of the group, but showed up to observe. I quickly joined in, though, and got matched up with a guy so we could carry a sheet together. After 20-30 minutes of circling, and shouting slogans, at City Hall, one of the "leaders" instructed us that in a few minutes, we would be lying the sheets down on the ground, lying on top of them, and continue the chant: Here Are The Sheets, Where Are The Beds? Sounded like a great idea, and on the signal, we did it. But once on the ground, on that sheet, shouting the chant, I couldn't distance myself any longer; it wasn't "they" it was me, my friends, my boyfriend. I continued shouting thru the flood of tears, truly worried, and upset.

A guy came over and sat down next to me on the bench at the Cock, waking me from my thoughts. He soon asked me to smile, and didn't seem to like my answer that it isn't done on demand, it has to just come. He asked what was wrong, and I thought to myself, "why am I getting hit on tonight?" - and I just gave him my new standard answer - "it's complicated" . He said that if I knew what he'd been through over the past few years (blah blah blah, I zoned out) trying to give me advice. I tried to say without snarling - "Sounds like that's working for you, and sitting in the dark with loud music, not smiling, is working for me right now" I didn't think I ought to be apologizing for moodiness; I mean, did I have to say the obvious??? I didn't have to say the obvious, he kissed me on the cheek, and fled to the other side of the room. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but why couldn't he see that my feelings were valid, too? Jeez, can't you at least pretend to remember there are 6 or 7 thousand bodies down there, as the smoke continues to rise, the workers continue to toil, and we continue to freak out in our own, individual quiet ways?

I haven't been there that late in awhile, where they actually had to kick us out, and I hopped on the bike, full of beer, but the bike knows the way home, safely. I passed the 5th St memorial, one of the candles still burning. Sometime after 4 a.m., I passed out on the couch, after turning on the news, and seeing that the world was still horribly the same.