One of my favorite films is Richard Elfman’s 1980 $0 budget release “The Forbidden Zone”, which follows the travails of the Hercules family and their friends Squeezit and Renee Henderson through a mysterious door in their Venice Beach basement that transports them all to the Sixth Dimension, which is ruled by the tyrannical and self absorbed monarchs King Fausto and Queen Doris, played to perfection by the late and great actors Herve Villechaize and Susan Tyrrell. In one scene, the Queen, seemingly worn down by the King’s constant philandering during their one-thousand year relationship says to Fausto
 “That’s it! I’m hopping the next bus outta here!”
He says to her in a heavy and suave, sexy and tender French accent “No, no cheri! Where will you go? What will you do?””I donno. Go on living, I guess!” she answers in a dejected sob.

  I too have a long relationship I need to move on from. I have, more or less, known that I have been infected with HIV since February of 1990 and was diagnosed in February of 1996. After four years of treatment I slipped through the cracks and lost all access to healthcare. Through the 80s and 90s I had lost most of my closest and dearest friends to AIDS and what I call AIDS Related Suicide, which is everything from self euthanasia to partying recklessly to the inevitable end. For the next thirteen years I cultivated a close relationship with Mr. Death, sure that any day would be the one when an ethereal Steve Rubel would open the velvet ropes and Drew Okun (aka Porn Star Al Parker) would personally escort me into a club that would make The Limelight look like a Midwestern department store restroom at lunchtime on a Wednesday. I tried drugs and alcohol and partying my self to death but when one is dying one tends to not achieve the level of income necessary to procure the requisite substances nor does one usually have the high spirits that get one invited to events with such goings on. Indeed, three years ago I was living in a friend’s basement, in increasingly poor health with chronic low grade fevers, upper and lower gastro-intestinal distress, hot flashes, and the disturbed sleep patterns that are part and parcel with an unfulfilling life and the stress that comes along with that reality, oh, and unemployed. My friend, at whose grace I was sheltered, was losing what little empathy he had for me due to my failures at finding gainful employment and the drugs, and himself had been dealt a dirty hand by Mr. Death with the passing of his only sibling (whom he dearly loved), his mother, and then father in a two and a half year period, so it was understandable that presiding over my slow demise wouldn’t be appealing to him. So after two years he sold the house, I’m embarrassed to say, mainly to be rid of me, and I moved into my mother’s basement. Evermore suicidal, I knew my mother would never survive that so that will not be an option until she has passed.

  None of that matters now, because a year ago, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I began seeing a Therapist and an Infectious Disease Specialist. I was diagnosed with PTSD and a related depression, am currently receiving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and practicing Mindfulness; all of which is going well. I discovered that despite a nearly 13 year hiatus my CD 4 count was in the 200s and my viral load was only in the low 200,000 range, then began and have been doing very well with the drug Complera. My health issues continued, however, and were compounded by pernicious anemia; confounding my Doctor as to what the pathology could be.

  Then at two in the morning in February of last year, I had severe abdominal pain, so in a snow storm with the temperature – 20′ F, I was taken to a hospital emergency room for the first time in my 51 year old adult life, with the means to cover the bill. I had a Cholecystectomy: Gallbladder Removal. After I recovered, it was apparent that all my vexing health issues had gone with my diseased, infected gallbladder and the fist sized, single gall stone that were removed; my depression even abated.

  Now, it’s time to go on living, I guess! I am 52 years old and living in my mother’s basement. I have been unemployed or underemployed for the better part of three years. The closest thing I have to a relationship is with a closeted man who, despite the love we have for each other, the really, really great sex we have, and the nine years we have been doing it, has made it clear that he isn’t going to leave his lover of nearly 40 years for the likes of me. Most of my surviving close friends gave up on me during my unspectacular downward spiral and I’ve never made friends easily. On the other hand I am a very caring, compassionate, and patient man, an exceptionally talented Multimedia Artist, and I am learning that I have every reason to have confidence in my abilities. In the mean time does anyone know of a group of like minded people learning how to begin a new and happier chapter in a life they never expected to be living?

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