Today was a day of minor but busy actions – a plane ticket, unraveling the resultant bank transactions, e-mails, laundry. No real or serious work, as too many days since Thomas went back to Munich – my fault of course... but this evening I was feeling utterly relaxed, physically and mentally, watching some TV...
and what has been strange about that, for me, this evening only, is the absence of anxiety over work to do: neither a sense of satisfaction nor one of guilt. Really: I just didn't care, at all. It was almost like being stoned, in some strange and unexpected way... in any case, certainly at ease, perfectly unworried by time and change.
For some reason I flashed back on one of the guys who was in the Los Angeles HIV-positive writers' group led by Terry Wolverton, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, over an important five-year period for me – a period when many things changed in the wake of my own diagnosis.
I don't remember his name... he wasn't like the ones who just came occasionally, or surfaced briefly; nor was he one of the ones who put a great deal of energy into the writing (and those included Gil Cuadros, whose book of poetry you can still buy from City Lights; but who died in the year of the advent of protease inhibitors, because his health was too fragile at that point for them to help; but he had published his book of poems, and they were good, and people cared that they were good).
This guy, whose name I have forgotten, had some sort of low-level entertainment industry job; he was at the workshop frequently but sort of noncommittally, was often funny but cynically, sort of emptily so; he was someone whose expectations seemed to stand at a zero point (unimaginable for me, with my tortured ups and downs).
I once met him at his home – I can't remember why, or how: perhaps I was picking him up for the group to get together, some meeting, some dinner... in any case, it is impossible to forget: a dully white Hollywood studio apartment, mostly a bed and a dresser and a large television, a darkened room lit only by the streetlamp near the window and the glowing screen, and hieratically, predictably moving figures on it, a minor Western film or something, in a room barely big enough to hold all of them. A sense that it had been that way for hours, would continue to be that way for hours, after I had left it.
A space with nothing in it, except the bed and the television, or more accurately except for their functions – because in LA there are indeed people who just watch screens, professionally and also to pass time, all of the time, every hour of the day.
And his apartment gave a strange feeling of – not squalor, not quite, but – the real, dingy, unimportance of anything but watching the screen: movies, shows, series, specials, late-night and later-night – he would know them all, have seen them repeatedly and with endless, unvarying attention.
(I, of course, am quite different – with my endless shelves of books, some with my name in them, some dense, some trivial; as I undress for bed I briefly open the window, by the bookcase where stand monumental tomes of the histories of Taoism and Buddhism in China, of arguably different collections of Grimm's fairly tales, of collections of stories on the top shelf, some of them read, some of them never... different?...)
And ultimately, he did not seem unhappy; but I have rarely been so disturbed by a view into someone else's life....