The secret to six-pack abs & CT scans
by Corey Saucier
I am not a spiritual guru. In fact, based on the scriptures of a certain bible-like book, I am a walking abomination: I love boiled shrimp and broiled mussels in a garlic sauce (Abomination); my favorite pieces of garment are a stretched jeans over a three-dollar mesh jockstrap with a cotton and spandex waistband (Abomination); I am covered in tattoos—half of them are bible quotes, but I’m not sure Leviticus makes exceptions based on context (Abomination); I do not go running from the room when a person of any gender is on their period (Major no-no); and we must not forget the one that has set the stage for how we treat all the other very specific rules (given only to a few chosen people while they wandered through the desert thousands of years ago), the one that most people quote when trying to vilify a person for breaking scriptural benison law (regardless of if you actually follow that religion or not), the one that most Christians consider the epitome of evil and disgust—that which a certain religious document that some would call the Bible says should put us to death: I do not always stand when a man with gray hair walks into a room.
Forgive me father for I have sinned.
Not to mention the whole gay thing….
But because I’ve had AIDS since my early twenties I am acutely aware of my mortality; and because of this, I am acutely fixated on the disposition of my soul and the metaphysical systems that may keep me on a “good and righteous” path.
Yup, I admit it! I’m one of those.
I kind of want to go to heaven. (If there is such a thing.)
I may not be a Kabbalah string-wearing zealot, but I am far enough along the path of “enlightenment” to know that no matter how infinitely small the chances of Nirvana…you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.
So I’m half-naked at the “straight gym” in Hollywood, dressed in a conservative green crop-top that reads “kiss me I’m Irish” and “kiss me red” shorts that are so short you could measure my testosterone levels with one downward glance. And I am sitting in one of those rusty old black and broken abdominal crunch machines that I’ve used obsessively for the last ten years at the beginning of every workout until my uterus is so cramped I pause for worry of ruining my fertility…and after all these years of fervent gym-going, I still have not achieved not even one indentation of an ab.
Many are called, but few are chosen, I guess.
It’s the middle of the day and not many are here, but I am facing a small herd of delicious heterosexual men who are sweating, lifting weights, and bending over in ways that should make my testosterone levels even more visible in my tasteful red shorts, but instead, I am scribbling ferociously in my emergency sunshine yellow mead notebook like I need to be sedated: My eyes are wild and my hands are moving so fast they have started to emit an acrid grey blurry smoke, because I have been hit by inspiration.
And only amateurs go to the gym to workout.
I am contemplating the concept of forgiveness. Writing to myself and to the Universe about what it means to allow space for another person to do you harm and still love them as they do it.
“Forgive them,” I write in the battered almost full notebook that I carry with me at all times.
“Forgive because you don’t want to die angry and hurt.”
I know it doesn’t sound that profound, but mind your business! Some of us don’t like being hurt.
I do everything I can to prevent it.
I may pretend to be kind and long-suffering when everyone is looking. But when you have turned your beautiful face from mine, my ego tries to defend itself just as savagely as the next girl.
And I do not forgive easily.
But there is a leather-bound book with thin easily ripped pages that says, “You should forgive your brother seven times seventy times.”
In my natural state you get just one chance to make a mistake with me, but I think being HIV-positive has given me a higher tolerance for pain and an intimate understanding that there is usually a path through the bad back to the good… Until there isn’t.
So I finish scratching in my journal, pouring all my wrath and pride into this poor little crazy person notebook.
“Forgive them,” I write two hundred more times until my wrist locks-up. I dry my tears and go back to the locker room, get naked, and blatantly ogle straight men while they shower; and try my best to make space to love someone who has done me harm-because only amateurs use the gym to workout.
So though I often get it wrong… And still eat meat with blood in it (Abomination), I must say having AIDS for so long does make it a little easier for me to transcend into the metaphysical realm and make fundamental life adjustments. I think it has something to do with dancing so often with death.
For example: My lymph nodes have been swollen for three months now and I’ve been having night sweats during the freezing winter sleeping hours…
It could be nothing.
But tomorrow I have a CT scan (with contrast) from throat to the middle of my chest; and if it’s bad….
I don’t want to die angry and hurt.
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.