Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting somewhere

I thought maybe I was never going to hear from Melissa again, but it turns out she's just been busy with activism, in jail a few times and dealing with all the legal stuff but now she's going to be in Boston on the way to her brother’s graduation in upstate New York, I guess it's the part of New York that's closer to Boston than New York City so she's coming to stay for a few nights on the way. I'm kind of nervous, because my life is so different now, what will it be like to see Melissa? But then she's here and suddenly we’re talking in that deep way that doesn't happen for me in Boston. Melissa’s telling me how everyone in ACT UP is getting desperate now, there are these two guys who moved to San Francisco from Orlando and they've scared pretty much everyone out of the group, now it's just their friends and Melissa I guess and they’re totally irrational, Melissa says, they don't want to prepare for anything, they just want to act, and half of the things they suggest don't make any sense, really, and I understand they're so angry because everyone's dying and they're worried they’re going to die soon too, but we’re all angry, right?

And I talk about how I read somewhere that 40% of gay men will be positive by the time they’re 35, and how here in Boston no one even talks about AIDS except to tell you who to stay away from, and Melissa asks me what I think about the theory that HIV started with the hepatitis vaccine, that it was all a government plot, and suddenly I'm scared in that way that feels like I'm going to have an incest flashback, suddenly everything feels dark. Then I realize it's 3:45 am so we’re getting ready for bed but actually I'm still scared but I don't say anything. I'm trying to figure out how to say that I don't want Melissa to sleep in bed with me this time, that even though I never told her before it always made me so tense when she stayed over in San Francisco. I always wanted to feel relaxed and share space and intimacy and even touch, but every time I used to freeze in bed, something about her smell but I didn't want to say anything because that would just sound misogynist, right?

But then I realized that it was my mother, I mean that's what Melissa reminded me of, not in the literal sense I mean she's nothing like my mother except physically, yes, with her pale skin and freckles and curly hair she does kind of look like my mother but that's not what I mean, something deeper like memory and brokenness, an inability to speak or breathe and that's kind of how I feel now, trying to say what I want to say before bed. And finally I managed to say you know, I'm really scared to say this, I want you to know that it's not about you it's about me, it's about my memories, it's about how they're stored in my body and I don't know what to do exactly but would you mind staying in the other room?

And Melissa looks a little sad, but it's not sad in the way I thought. She doesn't look sad like I'm excluding her, actually she only looks sad for a moment and then she's angry in that way that makes her mouth and eyes move around in a way that looks like they're trying to get off of her face, she’s angry at my parents and what they've done. She holds out her hand in a shy gesture and then we hug for a while and when we're done I say what about your parents, how are you doing with that? And she says I think I'm getting somewhere, I joined a group. And then we get my sleeping bag and some sheets and pillows and arrange them in the other room, and I leave a note for Abby since it's after four but I guess she's still on the block.



rex said...


i just wanted to say i so so so appreciate you posting what you've been working on. it's great to see how sketchtasy is building/growing and i'm so excited to see what it will become (especially when it comes out!). good luck!

:) rex

(it's also hilarious how the comment box asks me to "choose an identity." hah.)

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Rex, thank you so much – that's so wonderful to hear!!!

And, I know – hilarious about choosing an identity, indeed :)

Love –

gina said...

you are so fucking honest and so fucking beautiful. i love you.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

YOU are so fucking honest and so fucking beautiful. I love YOU!!!

Love –