It was a toss up between a support group for the mood disorder or one for the HIV. It was question of which was more pressing: which edge was more keenly felt. At this point, from my perspective,  the two seem ineluctably intertwined. In the end—and after a long circumlocutory path of deliberation—I decided to join one for people newly diagnosed with the virus. Last night, as nervous as nerves can be, I came to a little room and sat with some other equally un-eased men, fidgeting in their chairs. I folded my hands in my lap and tried to look calm. I looked at my shoes. My heart fluttered like a bird in a cage.

When I was vetted for the group a week ago, the coordinators asked for three things I was looking to get out of the experience. I could initially only think of two: “to hear how other people have been dealing with the diagnosis,” and “to lessen my sense of isolation.” They nodded sagely. “And friends!” I added at last. “I’d like to make some new friends.” It seemed an obvious sort of thing to put on the list. Of course, as soon as I did, I was sure that I would probably end up loathing everyone else in the group.

I needn’t have worried. Although I’m probably the youngest person there, everyone’s fine. Everyone’s lovely. It will be a kind and supportive ten weeks together. It will do what it’s supposed to do.

After the break one of the men returned from outside and surveyed the room, pushing his lighter back into his pocket. “Well, I’m obviously the only sinner in the room,” he said.

“Oh, all my sins are invisible,” I said to him cheerfully.


~ by A Mundi on October 20, 2009.

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