Recently, a Facebook friend of mine told me that she missed my Facebook stories. I told her that I would write something just for her. That was a few days ago. But I have felt empty lately, at a loss for words, at a loss for meaning. Not sure what I should be saying anymore. Not sure what is important.
And I know that is intrinsically linked to the loss of Jon.
There have been a few moments in my life that have truly changed me. My mother getting diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, my getting sober, finding out I was HIV Positive, and now Jon’s death. Each of these events have taken the course of my life, the direction I believed I was meant to be heading in, and radically shifted them, changed something essential that I believed about life.
Each of these events have left me feeling like I am fumbling in the dark, grasping at faith that my life will once again take on shape, will once again feel purposeful.
When I was a child my grandmother, Sadie, gave me an antique money bank. It was a smiling clown with a red gloved hand. You put your pennies into the red gloved hand and then pushed a lever and the hand would shove the pennies into the clown’s mouth.
For months I was terrified of this leering, hungry clown.
And then I began to talk to it.
I was a strange child. I spent a lot of time alone. I believed in ghosts. I believed in demons and Magick. Both my mother and my grandmother believed they were witches. They cast stones and read tarot and threw spells and set intention and explained our lives in deep tapestries of myth and reincarnation.
I remember imagining all the fury and dark anger I had as a child and putting it into the clown’s red gloved hand, watching as he opened his mouth wide to devour it. He became a place to store all my deepest fears, all my dark and angry thoughts.
As I grew older I found other ways to combat my demons. Heroin became a way for me to quiet the world, a way to take all the chaos and pain and turn into something soft and beautiful.
And for years that worked. Until it didn’t.
Heroin became that devouring clown, monstrous and hungry: no longer just eating the darkness, but eating all of me.
I thought nothing would ever hurt me again the way I ached walking away from dope. To this day I can feel that warm blanket wash over me, that safety, that absolution: I can taste the drip in the back of my throat, the urge to walk, slowly, throughout the City, that endless sense of possibility that would never really be realized because there was no reason: there was nothing else I needed in that fairy tale opioid landscape.
But eventually that safe and perfect beauty died, and turned into something monstrous and destructive.
I ended up homeless, I lost my car, my relationship to my family and friends became strained and full of hurt and betrayal. I was lost, fumbling in the dark.
And somewhere inside all that darkness light appeared. It wasn’t immediate. It took time and there was pain. I remember lying in my room, alone, crying, the ache inside felt like it would rip me in pieces.
But it didn’t. And the person who emerged was stronger, clearer, the shapes around me more defined than ever before. And from those strange and new shapes I built a life that was my own. Separate from my family’s money, separate from my past, from all the darkness and hurt, I built a life of hope.
My mother has lived with Stage IV cancer for 8 years. I have been sober for almost 7. I have been HIV Positive for four.
I believed that finally I understood life, I understood hope and love and what it meant to be alive.
And then Jon died.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my room reading. Something in the way the light moved, something in the way the air seemed suddenly denser, full of something other, and then I smelled him. I could feel him right there, his breath, those blue eyes, and you will call me crazy and you will never know what I am talking about until you have felt it too: but he was there with me, his lips up against mine, his hands briefly connecting to mine.
It could have been seconds or it could have been hours. It was endless.
And then it was over and I could breathe in a way I had never been able to breathe before.
And I am left with this sense that I do not know anything about life. Once again I am changed.
The ache of Jon feels too large to comprehend, too vast to make sense out of, so I don’t try anymore. I just let It be. And I when I come upon it I sit there, as still as I can, my body shaking with the pain of missing him, until it is gone, and I remember that moment when out of thin air Jon came to me and kissed me. To let me know that he was still there. That he would always be there.
I have learned so much about love. Through my relationship to Jon and Alex, and to my relationship now with the man I call Noah.
Someone recently asked me if I thought it was “healthy” that Alex and I continued to live together. He insinuated that maybe I shouldn’t share with Noah my feelings about Jon, that maybe I needed to leave the past behind me.
But that is bullshit. Alex and Jon are my family. My love for them will never not be one of the most important things in my life. Just because the direction of that love has changed does not mean the intensity of it has.
And my love for Noah encompasses all the love I have ever felt before him, it emerges from that love, it is because of that love.
The one thing I am sure of, the one thing I know for certain, is that love is at the core of all this. All of life. It is the only thing that matters.
I can be petty and sanctimonious, I can gossip and lie, I can be jealous and spiteful and unkind. I am human.
But then I think of Jon, who died alone in his car in a parking lot in Montebello. And how loved he was. Whether in those final moments he knew it or not. And while maybe in those final moments that love couldn’t save him, I think it has the opportunity to save those of us he left behind.
Jon loved me so much. And I loved him. And that love is something that will live forever. It will change us. And I think of Alex and I think of Noah. And I think of all the men I have ever loved and I try to hold on to that.
Who we are and what we do matters. Maybe everything we do matters. I don’t know. But in that darkness there is a new shape forming: something hopeful: something full of integrity and kindness. And I want to hold on to that.
So for now I have no idea what words to say, no stories that make sense to me: I am still searching for meaning, for understanding, but I can see it, shimmering out there in the distance: the vastness and the potential, and when I lose sight of it I can close my eyes and remember that kiss with Jon, or the first time Alex and I went to dinner, all those endless walks we took, or Noah, and the quiet moments in bed just holding each other, or the long drives across America, listening to music and exploring the world together, in the way we have all come together in this life to take care of each other.
In all the love.