Today’s record, Bon Iver, “For Emma, Forever Ago”.
Every morning begins with panic. Not at the virus, or the fear of becoming sick, but at what we might have lost. And fear for what is coming.
I get out of bed, 8:30am. I think, why? Why not just sleep? Why not just turn the tv on and hunker down and just fuck it all…but I make my coffee. I open my book. I write in my journal. I choose the records I’m going to listen to, and I get to work.
Because I have faith. I have hope. That we will come out the other side. I’m not sure what the other side looks like, or what we will look like, but I know there is an other side.
I had a friend in New York, years ago, 1992. In my book, Accidental Warlocks, I called him Laurent. Laurent had AIDS. I would go sit in his apartment in Chelsea and read him Lorca poems, we would sit in one of those pools you could buy at Kmart, the small ones: he had it set up in his living room. We drank champagne and ate strawberries and chocolate and talked. He would tell outrageous stories about orgies and alien abductions and art.
“I believe we are beautiful,” he said to me one night, sitting on the couch, listening as the rain outside hit against his window, purple lesions on his chest like a map of his past, a prediction of his future. “Even when all we can see is the ugly, I still believe we are beautiful. Just a few years ago the world seemed happy to let all our gay brothers and sisters die, but we haven’t died yet. We are still here. Filthy and gorgeous, the most beautiful of all the ugly little monsters. I love every single one of us.”
Back then we came together to mourn, we danced and went out, we threw ourselves into each other, the only safe havens we knew. Now we are told to stay away from each other. We are told about social distancing and that it is safer in isolation.
My friend Jake and I went for a walk through Echo Park yesterday. My boyfriend and I ate Lasagna and cuddled up on the couch last night. I FaceTime with my ex in Berlin. I check in on friends. My brother told me that one of my nieces, she’s 12, facetimes with her friend as she makes herself snacks.
“Sometimes they don’t even talk.” He says to me over the phone, from the East Coast. “They just do their thing, but it’s like they are doing it together.”
These connections, to our friends, families and our partners, are essential. In some ways they are more important now than ever.
Alex and Matias and I will go outside later and lift our DIY weights and stretch and jump rope and get as much sun as we can. I will meet a friend for a walk (we keep six feet from each other but we can still talk, we can still feel close). And I will keep writing.
And I will have faith. And hope. In us.
“We are all there is,” Laurent said to me. “We are the reason.”
He put on a record. We got high and danced in his living room, the fading summer light golden through his windows.
I fell back into the couch, too high to really understand what was being said to me. But I remember this, I remember this the most, Laurent standing bathed in that golden fading sunlight, breathless and beautiful, and saying,
“And if they all turn their backs on us, if the whole world refuses to see us, I will always see you. We will be family. We will save us.”
And the panic has subsided a little. Just the act of writing this to you, whoever you are, has saved me a little. Because I know you are out there. You are reading this. And maybe you understand, maybe you can identify a little, and maybe this act alone will remind us both:
We are not alone.