The year was 1987 and I was living on my own after finally finding a studio apartment. Before then I was couch-surfing as I was kicked out of my home the week after I graduated. Me and my mother never had the best relationship and she told me in the 10th grade that when I graduated I was getting out of her house. Sure enough she kept to her promise. i was homeless for awhile and couch-surfing. Luckily after awhile I got on a housing list and because of my situation was bumped to the top of the list of housing. During that time they had a surplus of senior apartments that were empty so they moved me into a senior home as I said before it was in a studio. It was an interesting experience and to this day I hate the smell of Ben-Gay and Old Spice and steer clear of Bingo which was played everyday in the community center.
It was nice to have my own but rent still needed to be payed and my dreams of going to college was deferred as I had to worry about making money. I did good for a long while. My meals sometimes consisted of pancakes in the morning and also for dinner. And I'm talking about the instant type that you only added water to. The other kind where you added eggs and oil was a luxury. I also switched between Ramen Noodles and I don't care what no one says but no matter what flavor the seasoning is, they all taste the same.
It was then that I saw the commercial for the Army Reserve. It was near the holiday season and if I couldn't buy anyone else anything I could at least get me something.
Be All That You Can Be.
That was the Army motto. Plus it was just for the weekends so it seemed like easy money for me.
When I applied I was in a room with other men who looked like they were familiar with Ramen Noodles. At one point I asked myself what I was doing here as i was supposed to be a famous actor by now based on my strong interest in high school. But like all dreams you eventually have to wake up and deal with the reality.
It was interesting because this huge guy told us all after passing the writing test that this was the first year they were going to do blood tests for this thing called AIDS. I had heard about it and remember Rock Hudson having it while he was on the soap opera Dynasty, but I didn't think I had anything to worry about because it seemed only white people were getting it. I should have known something was up when they drew my blood the first time and called me back for another blood draw. I remember the other guys laughing saying I must have the bug. I chalked it off.
A week later I get a registered letter. I felt important as someone was sending me something I had to sign for. Was the Army sending me a sign-up bonus? If so it was just in time as Christmas was two weeks away. Instead it was from the Army stating they wanted to see me in their office. Like a good soldier I followed orders and will never forget being lead into this huge office. There was a uniformed, decorated man and he was standing before a huge window and outside you could see the snow falling down. There was no long dialouge and it was straight to the point.
"You have AIDS, Goodbye."
Just like that. No explanation, no sympathy no telling me what AIDS was, and here it was almost Christmas.
I took the bus home and it was the longest ride and the Christmas spirit everyone was showing passed me by.
Let me telling you about living alone. Sometimes it's great as you can do whatever you want to do and other times it's a silent tomb with walls.
It was 1987. I was in the closet and the Christmas lights blinking on my wall illuminated my lost.
God was on the peripheral of my life and my family was close by distance but far from my heart. I had AIDS and wasn't even twenty. One good thing is, is that I didn't have credit cards because i would have maxed them out as I felt i wouldn't be here to have to pay them off.
But God have plans he doesn't share with you right away. He never told me that I was still going to be here 24 years later.
But now that I am God has become the center of who i am and I'm still here because I realized when it comes to life, no matter what situation you're in , you have two choices. To live or to die.
Like the line in the movie The Color Purple.
"I may be black, I even may be ugly but I'm here. I'm still here!!"