May 17 is the anniversary of me officially receiving the diagnosis from a medical doctor that I had tested positive for HIV. That was in 1995, shortly before the first medication cocktails were made available. 21 years.
I have in the past, on this date, written a short missive regarding my situation, outlining my current feelings and attitudes toward the virus that has taken up residence in my fluids and tissues, and caused the course of my life to veer in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. This morning I got up, made coffee, and opened my journal, and began to write. It wasn’t long before it became clear to me that I was saying things on the paper that I might have thought before, but had never put down in any concrete form. It was surprising, revelatory, and maybe a bit disturbing to witness myself realizing these things. I think that what came out during that journaling session is important, for me at least, and I will most likely tidy it up and publish it online soon enough, but for now, I’ll keep this morning’s work to myself.
That being said, I’m alive. I survived a trying time. I did an awful lot of it by myself. Should I be proud? I’m also not the only person to have survived an ordeal or a life threatening event, and many people have stories that make mine seem like a slightly troubling anecdote. For me, though, it was and still is a big deal. I write things like this, and I make pictures, and make music (noise, okay, it’s noise,) in an attempt to express the undefinable essentials of my psyche. I don’t know whether it works. I don’t know if anyone reads this stuff and “gets it.” Maybe I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that I survive. Still. Maybe not well, maybe not with elegance or class, but I survive.