There is a cup in my sink that reads “Drink and Be Merry.” It has been there for over two months now. The liquid inside has dried to sludge-brown stains and there is a green and yellow mold universe thriving in the darkness underneath. It smells. Rank and fish-like as if there is something submerged: Un-seen, uncared for, growing stronger and harder to clean—like it’s doing some dangerous metaphysical evolution that I should probably take care of….
I should probably take care of it.
I will probably take care of it.
I’m not ready to touch it. Not ready to deal with it. Not ready to put in the work. Who knows what’s festering under there… But I pour bleach on it every couple of weeks to break up the damage; keep it from growing legs and becoming self-aware. But the cup is still there. Plain as day. In the sink. Alone.
I think the porcelain is starting to crack.
But I’m fine.
Everyone says so…
Not to be ableist, (or propagate the idea that any one body is better than another) but I do have two eyes, two feet, two hands, a large under-appendage (that I rarely use), and a very talented backside (that I use all the time). That last thing I am really proud of. Not to brag or anything but my backside is a thing of wonder….
It is the dead of winter, and 2018 is bright and booming on the horizon…. But at forty with arthritic joints, a completely receded hairline, a waistline that fluctuates whenever it chooses, and a beard as wild, gray, and unkempt as a prophet who eats locust in the forest, I am often called “pretty.” And for that, a girl like me is eternally grateful! See, I’m still cheeky, narcissistic, flirtatious, inappropriate, and really great at parties. I smile all the time, I workout in cute spandex outfits, and post brightly colored selfies on my Instagram feed! I’m fine! I’m brave. I’m beautiful.
Don’t I look happy?
Holiday plans have been made and had —I wear richt red and verdant green sweaters—cover my apartment in garland and candles—I buy discount Christmas lights, and half-priced gifts off the Internet using money from scratch-off Lotto cards I found in the park (true story). I have friends who love me like family, and family with whom I’m friendly. I go to a Black church every Sunday and praise “Hallelujah! Hosanna in the highest!” in my painted-pink nails (while I text about how fabulous Mariah Carey looks with her new hot Italian boyfriend; because she is sitting two rows in front of me! Close enough that if I wasn’t such a respectable Lady, I could ask her for her autograph and awkwardly/aggressively/Insanely try to touch her hair until security wrestled me to the ground.)
The point I’m trying to make is that I am #Blessed. I’m fine. My life is full. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine!
I SAID I’M FINE!!
Sure, there is a cup in my sink… But I take my pills the way I’m supposed to. I go to every doctor’s appointment (the way that I’m supposed to). My T cells are in the designated range, I am undetectable, I’m social, I’m smart, and still the best bottom in town. I’m the poster boy for what it looks like to be healthy and HIV-positive. I write for a magazine; I participate in cultural workshops put on in my city; I was invited to be a counselor for a respected HIV organization; I am well known, and well liked, in all my social circles…. I’m fine! I’m better than fine!
I am the picture of perfection.
There is no reason to worry about me.
Just ignore the fact that I cry every time someone mentions: Family, or Christmas, or popcorn,
The color blue.
Blossom the TV show.
Socks with holes in them.
But it’s fine. My clothes are basically clean. My eyes are (basically) blue; I color my beard every three weeks; and I’ve even started a vision board! I’m one of the good ones. That’s what they tell me. That’s what I hear. I think there is a flyer somewhere with my name on it that says so: “Corey Saucier is doing fine. Can’t you tell? Just look at that smile!”
But there is a cup in my sink.
And it’s been there for a while.
And I am terrified to touch it.
But I got a referral from my primary care physician. Because despite all the good, perhaps I’m not as fine as I look. I let him know about the cup…. Described all the broken edges, and dark things growing underneath it. And how I keep pouring bleach on it to cover the pain—I mean, hide the smell.
I called the mental health counseling center last week.
Told them about my symptoms, and all the things that casual strangers don’t see….
They put me on the waiting list (because our social service system is trash)…. But I should be in therapy soon.
The cup is still there.
But I look forward to getting it clean.
I don’t want to use anymore bleach.
I’m afraid that if I use more bleach the cup may shatter.
I may have already used too much….
Love and Light.
Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.