Lost in the hustle of this week's edition of life in New York City was a phone call I received from a friend in Korea last Sunday. He was calling about "H". Some of you know my back story, but for those who don't, suffice it to say when I was deported from Korea for being HIV+ I arrived back in America with the clothes on my back. I asked my friend "H" to clean out my apartment, but all he did was clean me out. Nine years I had lived in Korea, and I never saw any of it again.
Never say never.
My friend was calling me to let me know that he had found H. And that H apparently still had some of my things. My friend asked me was there anything I wanted? Something he could bring back for me? I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to say Nothing. Why would I want anything when I'd replaced it all with a perverse pride in being able to ruthlessly forget? It only took me five years to become world-class in this discipline. Even as I pathetically hoped for a cure. A change in Korea's immigration laws. Anything. Something. That would allow me to go back. That would give me a needed reprieve from constantly having to dream at night, only to wake up exhausted. I wonder if he still has my pictures, I muttered. Your pictures, he asked as if to confirm, but his voice was fading, rippling away. I've long acknowledged that I can't recall faces, let alone names, anymore. I've had to find happiness in splintered images. Why would I want to see any of it whole again?
Finding out about my HIV status was a pivotal event in my life. It was the event that marked "the before" and "the after". For some people that event is getting married. Or having children. Or losing a parent. But it's more than an event. It's an event horizon. The point at which even light can no longer pull away from the force of a black hole. The point where it's not supposed to be possible to look backward anymore.