In the end there is only love
It’s 8:30 a.m.
It’s a cold winter morning in the city that they say is full of angels. I am naked and wet and freshly shaved in all the right spots; and I am vulnerable and exposed. I have only been to the gym once the whole winter, so like a bear in cheesecake and cheeseburger hibernation, I’ve gotten a bit portly and pudgy, a little chunky and round, and a whole lot of thick and luscious in all the other spots. But you’d be surprised; I know that everyone on Instagram is a twenty-six year old Mid-Atlantic rock hard muscular beauty covered in thick manly hair, and that’s the standard of sexy these day, but some still find a big Black bearded daddy with a little belly and a little extra butt, with legs as thick as tree trunks, shaved cocoa butter smooth in all the right spots, a delicious snack they wouldn’t so easily pass up.
She’s still a pretty girl.
I have been staring at my toes for the last hour: Un-peticured dark skinned knot-knuckled twelve-inch man feet on white porcelain.
Outside my window it is raining, and the city that was once filled with angels is biting and cold and unforgiving. But I am in the shower, and there is nothing but me and warm steam kissing my naked body as hot liquid flows down my skin: My hips, my elbows, my lips, my biceps, my belly, my scarred thigh…. Finally licking my delicate parts like loving waterfalls—like some nubile water nymph who has had her naughty way with me then splashes into the tub, and pools giggling at the copper drain, and drowning herself until she returns her journey to the vast saltwater magic of the ocean.
And it is beautiful.
And because Todrick Hall is Blasting “Heaven” loud in my bedroom on Spotify, and because I am rocking back and forth on my heels in the most sensual Black boy rhythms, and because my hands are covering my face in an exquisite prayer, and because my apartment has great water pressure, and because in the shower I am still surrounded with steam and fog, and so much hot water wet, if you were outside looking in, you would not even be able to tell that I am crying.
Because sometimes you just need a good cry in the shower to let you know that everything is going to be okay.
Last week I found out that I have cancer.
It’s in my throat.
Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.
Surgery in a month.
Possibly chemo and possibly radiation.
If anyone asks. I say that I am not afraid. I say that the diagnosis “makes sense.” I laugh wide and bright like a sunrise and say:
“I have been well prepared by having AIDS for the last twenty years.”
I say that: “HIV is way scarier!” And filled with far more more burning angst and bloody handwringing than the pink scarf covered, bald headed, dow-eyed pale deity that personifies cancer. But then again, I have never cried over having HIV.
I have never stayed up until the early morning thinking about treatment plans and second opinions and all the men that I have loved and lost:
Don, who I call Donathan—who I conjured once while staring at Park La Brea on my lunch break across the street. “I want a life like a rich White man,” I thought, and a week later, I met him—and he was perfect and blue-eyed, and moved me into his Park La Brea dream house three months after that. The Eurasian with the perfect body who thought I never liked him. Peter, who I called Thomas; who I loved so deeply I would just smile at him over pancakes and cry. Jose, who spoke no English, and whose wedding ring I still wear. Michael, who is the love of my life and my bestest friend. Javier, who I called all “black concrete and broken glass” and yet who I tattooed on my ribs in ink. My brother. And my Brother’s brother. Wilson Ron Keiser, who made me realize that “Beautiful” would always be my most favorite word. And the one with the red hair. And the one who could draw. And the creepy one who would stare at me while I slept.
And I wonder if I have loved enough?
I wonder if this is the thing that ends me, will my life have left a mark?
Will my friends remember my name after the radiation has riddled my body and the chemo has taken my tongue from me, and I need one of them to hold my hand. And if I am of the ten percent who do not survive, I wonder if the words that I have written over the years will continue to fall on fertile soil and burrow themselves gently into broken hearts like some never-ending lyrical vine? I wonder if someone will find my novel on my laptop and print it out so that at least one stranger can read it and be changed?
Or will the cancer eat away all that is me, like so many tears disappearing down my drain.
And if I survive cancer like I have been blessed to survive HIV, will I promise to love more?
I promise to love more.
Because in the end there is only love and saltwater and rain.
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.