Last night we saw some old friends, Marie Cain and Adrian Russ, both fellow writers for the theatre. They were remarking that it was very informative for them to see the posts looking back 10 years.
Marie said, "I didn't know that YOU didn't know how sick you were."
Adrian said, "What amazes me about that time is that you never stopped moving; never stopped going out. If it'd been me, I'd have stayed home and hid."
I laughed at that. It's always fun to hear what other people were thinking during that time period. Marie really put it into focus, though.
"Steve," she said. "Everytime I saw you, I'd think, Okay this is the last time I'm going to see Steve. And then you'd pop up again and I'd think, Okay this is REALLY the last time I'm going to see Steve."
It's true. I guess I knew and I didn't know. The thing is that when you're in your own skin and going through something like that, you don't really see how bad it is until something like I described earlier happens -- a friend looks at you and says, "OH MY GOD YOU'RE GONNA DIE NEXT WEEK IF YOU DON'T DO SOMETHING!!"
Because people are never that blunt in real life. No one walks up to a walking dead man and says, "Oh, hi, Steve. My, but you look terrible today."
Or, "Hello, Steve. Listen, be sure to say hi to Jesus for me next week cuz it's obvious you're gonna be dead by Thursday."
Adrian and I had a really good talk about it. I encouraged her to open up about her feelings during that time. She said, "Okay, well, I could see how sick you were. I was thinking to myself that I wouldn't have been able to stand the pitying looks."
I said to her, "I never saw that. I really didn't. All I could read was caring on their faces. I never saw pity. And besides, I'm such an attention whore I probably wouldn't have cared anyway." (That made her laugh).
She put her hand on my chest and said, "That's your pure soul."
And that made ME laugh. I said, "Honey, if there's one thing I don't have it's a pure soul."
But maybe I do. I don't know. I look back 10 years ago and I see myself going to industry functions, meeting up with friends, trying to make demos of the songs from TLS and trying to just act as if this is a little cold that I'll get through. I never gave up. I never saw how bad it was. I must have known but it wasn't something I gave much energy to. I just kept moving. And Jim never got in my way. He always treated me like I was the picture of health even though he was always very aware of when I was tiring myself out or feeling badly.
I think that's one of the reasons I love him so much and why I feel our relationship is about the most perfect thing one could imagine, despite our ups and downs in the past. He never faltered. Never wavered. Never stopped me from going and doing.
Maybe, in retrospect, I made a lot of people uncomfortable during that time. They had no choice but to look at the face of AIDS because I refused to hide it. I refused to go away.
And maybe, in retrospect, that's why I'm still alive today.