Monday, June 07, 2010

Just like a carnival opening up

Saturday evening, I watched the movie, Longtime Companion.  I hadn't watched the movie since it was first was released in 1989.  It tore me to shreds back then, and for very good reason.  I was losing dear friends to AIDS.  It was different then, no miracle drugs, no rushed-through research to trials. When I first heard about AIDS, I was in college, sitting in the the living room of my tiny rented apartment in a crumbling building that I chose for its character.  My friends and I passed around my issue of TIME Magazine, the cover story about the mysterious gay cancer.  It was such a mystery then.  I was convinced the disease was airborne, from the fog pushed out onto dance floors.  My friend David, in highschool at the time, countered that it might be from Poppers.

David is gone now, and not from Poppers.

Watching the movie again reminded me of those I lost to AIDS, those who would be here today if they hadn't been there before we were able to learn so much.  The movie reminded me of the hospital stays, the prayers, the hand holding and the excruciating deaths.  It reminded me of those I've lost to AIDS, and to those gone to cancer, to tragedy, to death too loud, too quiet, too criminal. 

Of all that were taken too soon, too young.

I watched the movie on my stomach, legs stretched out behind me, bent up at my knees and crossed at my ankles, my head held in my hands. It's a childhood position of comfort and with it comes security, but I cried so hard the tears ran down my arms. 

It's grueling to lose friends.  In my life, it's the worst part of every birthday. I hate outgrowing my friends long gone, my friends who were robbed of their lives, robbed of aging, of freckles and wrinkles, of wistful sunsets and forgettable regrets, of smiles and hugs and sorrow, of love, and sweet kisses.  Of laughter, so much laugher.  It's grueling to surpass their age, or to discover the music, the songs I know would have brought my friend to his or her feet and begging me, pulling me, to dance with me, dance with me!

Grief is often in the music for me.  My friends live on in songs, in notes, crescendos, lyrics.  Sheets of music now with tiny rakes along the notes across my heart.

I miss Michael.  I miss Hezekiah.  I miss Bruce.  I miss Lisa.  I miss Rusty.  I miss Creth.  I miss David.  I miss Shelly.  I miss Bryan.  I miss Randy.  I miss Maria. 

I miss my heart before it knew loss.

At the end of the movie, three of the characters stand on a beach looking towards the sand dunes, dreaming of seeing their lost friends again, alive and joyful.  A crowd of their and other's lost loved ones appears laughing and running across a bridge to join them on the beach in celebration and reunions, of life.  Old friends, dead and alive, meeting on the beach, hugging, holding.  It's an impossible scene, an emotionally ripping scene, one we have all imagined at one time or another. 

Can you imagine it? Meeting your friends again, those whose lives were ripped away from them at too young an age, those whose deaths painted you in the colors of grief no one can describe, and they are all alive again and you're laughing and hugging and crying... you are joyful?

I think that's heaven.

I just want to be there, if they ever do find a cure.

Can you imagine what it would be like?

Like the end of World War II.

At the beginning of the fantasy, a song rolls up from the distance, quietly at first, as the laughter and voices and the reunions are heard, then increasing in volume as the voices are fading and the camera angle widens.  It's an incredibly haunting and also beautiful and promising song. 

The song is by Zane Campbell.  A link to the scene mentioned above is provided at the end of these lyrics.

When I cleaned out your room
I painted the walls to cover any memories
But still it seemed like you were hovering over
Still out there keeping an eye on me

Yeah I never really was able to tell you
That's why I'm telling you now that you can't hear
It's not gonna be the same around here without you
And I'm holding back a flood behind one tear

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

I never thought that I would ever see the day
And I don't wanna believe it's true
You were supposed to always be there
And a part of me has died with you

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

If I could have one more day with you the way it used to be
All the things I should've said would pour out of me

I took a walk I didn't know which way I was goin'
But somehow or other I ended up here where
We said we'd meet again and I guess I was hopin'
But the place had been closed down a while
It was all dark in there

And we'll go down to the post-mortem bar
And catch up on the years that have passed between us
And we'll tell our stories
Do you remember when the world was just like a carnival opening up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dukIb4UU094&feature=related

2 comments:

Kelly said...

Great photo...ripped my heart out!

ghost said...

simply amazing post. ive never lost anyone to aids. but i've lost lots to drug abuse, violence, accidents.

sometimes i imagine they think less of me for staying here. but i know that is foolish.