A dream fragment:
One of two simultaneous dream narratives, partly remembered – don't remember the other one.
A friend and I are at the front door of a house, a porch light over the door; an old woman is inside. We come to talk to her, twice – I know she won’t remember or understand what I’m asking – something about finding someone, or knowing my own story – but I think if I come and ask a second time I might get a clue about where things have gotten lost, what happened, where to find things.
This second time, my friend is partly in the way of the door, I know we’ll look official or threatening or like government men or something, and she won’t want to talk to us, I try to get him to move – I know she won’t remember that she used to know us, I try to make him move but it’s too late.
She closes the door on us, I know it’s my last chance: later we are in a car or train, leaving, giving up – on everything; my friend is asleep, he doesn’t understand what we’ve lost; I know it’s all over, and we won’t find out what happened, or get anything back. Like the end of life, or of a hope; sadness, not intense or surprising, but final.
Yesterday, I was suddenly on national television – no, reel it back a bit –
Wednesday evening, Skype with M. and his husband R.; they are jolly, talkative. I am cheerful but tired – it's been a long day, I'm looking forward to a bath or some such.
A phone call interrupts – a woman from the BBC's local station: there's some AIDS research on the news (as it turns out, a minor update/confirmation on something we've known for years, but okay). They want to hear from a long-term survivor – can I come and talk?
And then it gets a bit more complicated: this is television, not radio (which is always intimidating – it is astonishing how precise and tailored television studios are; they're not like radio, which can be cheerfully funky, as no one can see you). I have already noticed, today, that I am literally heavier than I've ever been in my life – too much bread this weekend, and still so little exercise. Sigh. (The old Hollywood joke rings in my head – "But you know the camera adds ten pounds!" "Well, how many cameras are on her?".)
And it's at the big new BBC studios in Salford, and it's national, and can I catch a train in an hour? The hotel will serve breakfast, a taxi will pick me up at 6:30 am –
This is not how I wanted to spend my evening, and I'm disconnectedly saying I'm not sure – finally I turn to M., who is still there, on the screen: he says, yes, do it.
Pack, train, taxi, hotel, unpack, midnight or so: sleep, wake, no breakfast unfortunately (a crossed wire in communications), taxi, station, makeup, studio. It's a national chat/news show; I get five minutes, interspersed with other speakers – I say generic things about my experience of AIDS, but wave my hands and look cheerful, so they are happy.
Taxi, train (a table seat, fortunately), home. And figure out how to do things scheduled for afternoon... see two students, do the usual HIV-patients-talk-to-medical-students thing, go home. Skype again with M., catch up on the day: so, how did it go?...
and am coughing, a bit more than my usual side effects: dammit, this is what happens when you go out into the world... the crowded world as Petri dish: biologists must be intensely aware of how complicated the contemporary world is becoming – our closeness and international connections are ideal for smaller organisms: but their glorious dawn may have an impact on us....
Recognition is great: as I've said before, my life addiction has always been fame and attention – more than money or sex, or the other usual suspects.
And I'm not cynical about the interview: it was a good thing, well handled...
Friday I'm coughing, I really have a cold. I have one patient – should I have canceled so that she wouldn't catch anything? Ah well, I've taken a pill, I get through with only minor coughing (and she's used to me coughing these days).
I make a point of mentioning the new computer screen in the room, say: when we talk about our relationship, some analysts are careful not to show their lives to their analysands – but when we meet in the analyst's home, of course.... She is unworried, says it's fine, talks about her own concerns; it's good that I mentioned it, but it is more about dispelling my worries, not hers.
I answer a few emails, cough, cover some work demands, take more cold medicine – other queries look too complicated, and it feels as though everyone wants me to be alert, awake for them – they want me to be available. Which is not always easy these days.
I finally give up and lie on the couch, fall into a drugged sleep... and dream....
I've said several times lately, in different contexts, that I have, without really planning to do so, changed direction in the past months: the collapsing world of Brexit and Trump, my shaky though not disastrous health, a quiet sense of spring slowly though erratically coming –
Buying the computer was a decision, actually: chances are that I won't move on, and looking for experiences away from here, or beyond the current range of my life, is no longer something I can really expect. (It hasn't been for several years, truth to tell; but now I'm admitting it, to myself.)
So: less anger, exasperation – calmer. But...
Close in spaces, expectations; let shutters drift half-closed over the windows. I enjoy being with my analysands – I thought today: the amazing worlds within each of these people, the joys and sadness, it's like the science fiction and fantasy I have always loved: this is traveling to other worlds.
And I would like to write; when I do move beyond my fuzzy, mildly disconnected world of procrastination, it is truly a pleasure, a source of pride.
Being here must be enough, and therefore it is enough: I can continue to look out at other places and prospects, less wistfully perhaps, more calmly, as lovely fragments of the past.
So: the same life, a (slightly) different meaning. No big events, no big accomplishments: no big answers. What I appear to be is what I am – there aren't secrets that will make it all important. It's a life, and it's what a life is.
... sadness, not intense or surprising, but final.