Giving up smoking was probably one of the hardest things I had to do when I found out that I was HIV+. Seriously, and sadly, there are few friends in this world who can do what a cigarette does: provide companionship, pleasure and understanding all in the scope of a few minutes, and then leave without saying a word. No one in their right mind gives up smoking. The only way to account for some people kicking the habit is that we all get a lot crazier as we get older. Crankier. Lonelier.
If I didn't know it before, I know it now: that serious sickness and withdrawal go hand in hand. My father, who had been clamoring to leave the hospital the first two days he was there, no longer wants to leave the hospital. He does not want to watch the Jets game on Sunday, even though their whole season depends on it. He refuses to talk to me about the Australian Open this January. He is perfectly content to lay in his bed with the lights off and the curtains closed. I, of course, am not. So I berated him. And told him to get up and sit in a chair. And then take a walk around the hospital floor. And brush his teeth. And shave. Which he eventually did. I am not ready for my father's Withdrawal.
It was seven months before I was brave enough to face the world after I found out I was HIV+ in 2004. As of late, I find myself wanting to shut out the world again. It's a crappy world to be sure, with flecks of happiness scattered in a mosaic of general miserableness. Why can't it be the other way around? Why can't the evening news be 90% good news and 10% bad news? Why is ours a culture so obsessed with negativity? Would a news channel that reported 90% good news be a financially viable vehicle? Can human beings exist as a primarily happy creature? I wish we all had the courage to find out.