Monday, December 01, 2008

I'll Remember

Today is World AIDS Day.

Yesterday I was driving home from Mobile with my new partner-in-driving Claudia Schiffer playing the role of wingman. It's not the real Claudia Schiffer (she's far too old) but instead, my kick-ass little pilates client who has become a pal. I heart her like whoa.

As we drove into Jackson, Alabama, I was reminded of a friend I had many years ago who was from that small town. I knew him when I was 19, and we worked together in a store in the mall. He was 21, and the first "out" person I ever really knew. As a group from work, we'd all go out downtown before it was revitalized, to watch the drag shows. Because I was young, they'd pull strings at the door so I could get in.

He didn't stay on at the clothing store after the holiday season, and quickly we lost touch. A few years later I was having lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter and a mutual acquaintence was waiting our table. It was odd to see his face in that setting too (such a small world), and I asked about our friend.

He got this really puzzled look on his face and just said, "He died. Years ago."

As it turns out, our friend had AIDS. In 1990. At age 21. Dead by the time he was 23. Even now, nearly half of my life later, it's difficult for me to fathom someone dying so young, and so senselessly.

I remember him today, and I remind everyone that HIV/AIDS struggles are still very much a reality. There is no cure. There is no guarantee. Educate yourself, and remain committed to a cure.

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