The first of December is of course World AIDS Day, a definite part of my calendar – there was a parade, speeches, 'lanterns' made of paper and glow sticks; and I had appearances on radio and television (the television studios were up to date and startlingly high-tech – in my four minutes of being in front of the camera, I was slightly distracted by the demanding precision of the setup, which of course is much more polished than the funky, cheerful world of the radio station).
But it is after midnight; the second of December is more distinctly my own personal remembrance: that is the day Reid Beitrusten died in 1983 after six months of misery, as his body disintegrated painfully under the impact of this mysterious and then new condition. It is now twenty-nine years since... since it all changed.
Tonight I am somewhat dislocated in time and space – a grant application to write a book on music written about AIDS was rejected; these observations of World AIDS Day combined seeing dear friends (notably Melinda and Mark O.) with an obscure quarrel among the organizers, which I abetted by stupidly asking people what was wrong, rather than just shutting up; and... well, I guess I'm just having a confused sense of the past, present and future.
Which is both specific to this point in time (rethinking my next few years without the book, and trying to reconnect to my Jung-Institut work, and to the research that isn't done, and to teaching that has suddenly started to feel rather blurry, when none of them seems quite real tonight) and also typical of every early December in my later life.
Time was, time is, time will be... the sun goes down early, from 4 pm; and everything I have to do seems out of kilter, vaguely unreal. I think of myself as viewed by a more successful or richer, or by a happier, person: as someone who is a bit lost, a bit disconnected from anything that matters, as someone alone and not engaged in anything terribly useful... and so I have a dream about being stuck in a crawlspace, trying to break into the house of my own life and change things: but I can't get out of the crawlspace. Because I don't know what I'm doing up there, and don't have any tools with me.
At some irregular points in the last few years I do speak to Reid in my head. After all, he did get me to go back to graduate school and have an actual career – he is the one who told me, from his hospital bed, to "stop screwing around and go back to school".
And in my head, I tell him, well: I've made a lot of blunders, and have spent too much time not doing anything that matters... but at least it's been a better life than it would have been, if I hadn't followed what you told me to do.
I suppose he, and I, will have to be satisfied with that....