The radio played Tina Turner today, and I remembered the month I spent in a Richmond, Virginia, commune at which I was the only straight male except for Lee who was dying of a brain tumor. The year was 1984, and AIDS was just becoming big news. I knew a lot of gay men, many of whom thought the disease was a government hoax to make people hate homosexuals.
Tina Turner was popular among homosexual men and often appeared on MTV. I had never seen MTV until my stay in Richmond, and I was quite taken by it. Some other gay men—in Atlanta—had introduced me to different kinds of gay bars earlier that summer, and I was quite taken by them too. I was at an age and had a body type that appealed to gay men, and I was flattered by the considerable attention I received, but I was never sexually tempted, for which I was very glad when the death toll began to climb.
I thought of all those dead guys today as I listened to Tina Turner, and I was overcome by sadness. Just then, the sun broke through the clouds and glinted off the top of a chain link fence, and I was so touched by its beauty that I had to choke back tears. I had thought my transition from Zoloft was complete since I seemed to have gotten past some hard days, but now, all of a sudden, I am so deeply touched by so many things—sunlight, music, memories, the utter strangeness of existence—that I can scarcely keep from crying. There are a lot of feelings that I haven’t felt for a long time, and I am struck by the fact that I had forgotten I had ever felt them.
If someone saw me crying over sunshine on a fence, he would think I was losing my mind. I can but reflect that normalcy is, by definition, nothing more than whatever is commonplace, and not a condition that is necessarily better or worse than any other condition.
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