Hey there; it’s been a while. I’m good, thanks, hope you are too. Oh yeah, I did notice the new haircut. Um. Honey, sorry, it needs to go. No, it doesn’t matter that something died on your head and you can’t bear to disturb its rest, it’s awful and you, my friend, mistake the at best debatable fashion value of Donald Trump. He’s not meant to be emulated.
But enough about you, let’s talk about me. Far more interesting, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Thing is, I’ve decided to change some things. More accurately, restore some things.
You may recall that I’ve written here before about what I call the AIDS ghetto; that special place, at least here in the United States (or maybe even only in New York, I don’t know), where we pozfolk are quietly segregated from greater gaydom and the rest of society at large. Maybe you’ve seen the places, physical and of the mind, that I’m talking about. The ones where we’re quietly warehoused, therapized and welfare-ized, out of sight and mind, with too much time to die and too little to live.
I’m not in that exact spot, though I’ve come uncomfortably close.
Take for example the dreary SRO. That’s the acronym for ‘Single Room Occupancy’, a form of habitation somewhere between a really bad hotel and a really bad studio apartment that in New York City houses mainly the near-homeless and the HIV-positive. I’ll grant you that a roof over your head is immeasurably better than spending one night in Grand Central and the next under a bridge overpass; but desirable? No.
As undesirable as it is to depend for your livelihood on the cold charity of the state. Or on a lover; whether he endures for a night or half a life. Gifts can be taken away, government policies can change, even the most established love can wither, and wither it will if it becomes a requirement of survival for one rather than a bond in happiness for two.
Or consider our intimate spaces, such as they are. I’ve been lucky; maybe it’s due to gay New York City being so overwhelmingly seropositive, maybe owing to whatever charms I have, but I don’t normally face rejection, or care all that much if I do. But like everyone else, sometimes when the moaning stops and the chemicals wear off, I find myself hungry for more, more dick, more chiseled bodies and more drugs, anything to escape for a little while being adrift in a sea of loneliness, naked and alone under the distant wheeling lights of heaven.
One could always fill that emptiness by becoming one of the professional HIV-havers; the activist bore so completely at one with his monstrous virus, his personal calamity of an order never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human miseries, that he morphs from merely lacking self-awareness into a hostile bore droning his noble self-pity to an indifferent world, one that can never truly understand his exquisite grief.
Here, hold on, I’ll fetch you his number.
Bonus points if you’re brave enough to advocate for PrEP to a reject of this type – I have – or better yet, let slip that your thing is skin-on-skin bottoming for other poz guys. I’m as committed as ever to ending this epidemic, but in the meanwhile I’ll be barebacking with the likeminded and comparably situated, thank you very much.
The breaking point for me came after I joined a start-up. Now, I love start-ups. Energy, every day a new challenge, new people, you get the idea. Except there is an awkward expectation I have: to get paid. Perhaps that’s indulgent, a bourgeois affectation, but I don’t think so. Long story short, after five months noticeably absent a paycheck or even the prospect of one – this for someone who’s raised in the seven figures of U.S. specie for various causes – I walked. It didn’t help that I was told I’d be learning SEO and social media; I’m one of the top people in the country in those fields and in no need of being taught much of anything. Especially not when I’m paying the bills, amirite?
I could be flippant and say that Armani ain’t cheap, and it’s not, except this episode was the proverbial last straw. I didn’t move across the Atlantic to be yelled at by people in desperate need of therapy or to be worked like a dog without pay by someone wrestling with his own demons. Nor will I bear the weight of the world on my shoulders; I’ve tried. So did my friend Brad; he’s gone, God rest his beautiful soul.
So why not try a reset? They say there are no second chances, why not give it a try? I’ve always been an overachiever, and this is my life?
Fuck that idea.
I’ve always had two dreams, roughly, advertising and the law. I’m too abrasive to handle ad clients, what we in the field call account management, or so I’m told; there’s an argument to be made in favor of that statement.
Which leaves the law.
In the United States, to even be considered by a law school – I haven’t been admitted as of this writing, considered very much so – you need to pass a test, the LSAT Law School Admission Test. Thank you, done, on the first try. I’ll take it again however, because the over-achiever doesn’t just want to pass, he wants to pass in the top five percent nation-wide.
I’m not going to be able to attend until next Fall, such being the vagaries of a foreign education, so there’s some time to make money, travel, write, in plain English: to live. I already have my body back – a four-pack at this writing, a six-pack is about two weeks away, thank you very much – got my teeth fixed, a tan, the hair’s different, I’m writing again, and a year from today, I’ll be deep into criminal law and well on my way to a J.D. – and mom can live to see her baby get his doctorate.
My school? CUNY School of Law, one of the premier public interest law schools in the United States. I’ve checked them out, the campus being after all only ten minutes from my apartment, and there is only one conclusion: this is where I belong, the people there embodying the highest ideals of service and a passion for justice. Momentary irritation doesn’t invalidate the basic moral imperative that much is expected of those who have been given much; and I have been given much.
But most importantly, I’m out of the ghetto, and damn does it feel good.