I was born at about 4:25pm on July 25, 1958 at Scarborough General. There is an oft-told family story that I was 2 weeks overdue (like a library book?) in what was, at the time, an unusually hot summer. Dr. Hurano (that spelling is a complete guess on my part) would check in with Mom each Friday before driving his family up to their cottage and returning to the city to wait.
I have no recollection of life before age five- see my various posts, starting here on my on-going therapy to unblock memories.
But this post is about something else. Today I am celebrating the end of my 58th orbit around the Sun… and celebrating the 18th year of my second life. Not a religious conversion, nor time in sobriety, and not my existence in the website Second Life (does that still exist, is my account still valid?).
When I came out as gay, in the Spring of 1978, I envisioned a life of some struggle, but a long life with love and acceptance; from my family if no one else. And that aspect of my vision is true. My siblings and their offspring are the envy of the world- or would be if everyone knew just how much love, support and humour they provide.
However, by the time I met the man who would be my first ‘real relationship’ 2 years later, the world had changed. A ‘strange cancer’ appeared, later known as G.R.I.D. and then A.I.D.S. and H.I.V. No longer protesting for fair treatment in housing or employment, we were fighting for our lives. Death was all around. Not swift enough to spare any of us from the pain and humiliation of that diagnosis – of fighting a disease (technically a syndrome that allowed diseases to destroy us) and fighting stigma, hazmat-suited caretakers and, all too often, being disowned.
Accurate information on actual risks and transmission methods was slow to develop. Treatments almost as horrific as the symptoms led some to suicide. No judgment here.
I took on the worldview that I should not expect to live past 40. That seemed so far away to me at age 25. And I figured if I was lucky I’d celebrate that last ‘big day’ by boinking two 20 year olds- as a numerical balance of sorts.
I never ‘caught the bug’ and celebrated my 40th birthday watching the sun rise over the Historic Area of Williamsburg VA. I started to consider not only a life after 40, but that I might live as long as Dad- recently turned 89. At times I wonder whose cruel joke it is that I was led to believe I’d die young, and lived a life on that premise. While I didn’t party as hard as some, I did party hearty. I did not bother with exercise beyond the sexual- I did not start a ‘retirement account’ when I couldn’t envision ever retiring.
In some ways this body won’t let me forget my past- but I ain’t dead yet.