Last night was rough. Mr. B was late for our 7 p.m. date. Usually, he calls when he leaves his house, then again when he's almost to my apartment. At first, I panicked. On Friday I told him I had plans with Laura during the day Saturday. He said I could call him to let him know when we were done. I said, "No, let's go with 7 on Saturday like normal. I'll call you if that changes." Suddenly, I was stricken with uncertainty. Was I supposed to have called him? I left a message: "Hey, it's Erin. It's after seven. Are you okay? If I was supposed to call you and I forgot, I'm sorry. Please call me."
Half an hour later, the guilt was gone and I was 50 percent worried, 50 percent pissed off. Either something was wrong or Mr. B was pouting, which is a dumb and passive way to deal with a situation. I called a few friends for sympathy and advice. Then, at 8, I called him again. This time, he picked up. "Hello," he answered with no notable tone in his voice. "Where are you?" I asked. "My cousin's. Why?" "Why? I thought we had a date for 7." "We do," he replied, "Why, what time is it now?" "It's 8 o'clock!" "A.M. or P.M.?" "Are you kidding me?" I asked, incredulously. "No, I'm not kidding. It's 8 p.m.?" "Yes," I said, "It's 8 p.m. What are you in a basement? Didn't you notice that it's dark out? Are you alone there?" "Yeah, I'm alone. All the shades are closed because my cousin's in China, remember?" "How drunk did you guys get last night?" "Not very! I don't know what's wrong with me. Do you still want to hang out?" "Yes. Just get over here, okay?" (In his defense, my first year of teaching, I slept that long a few times. It's a stressful job.)
He came over and we ordered in Chinese food. Then we went to see Rent. It was a little hard for Mr. B to get into it at first, I think, but by the end he was on board. Actually, the hardest part for him was probably me silently sobbing during the refrain of "I'll cover you." Up to that point, I'd managed to hold it together, but I knew that refrain was going to kick my emotional ass. Sure enough, it did. (That said, I really enjoyed the adaptation.)
I love Rent, but it's tough for me because my uncle Carl died of AIDS when I was 12. No one told me it was AIDS for a long time, and even when they did tell me, they couldn't really talk about it. He was an artist and gay and used drugs. He was part of a community of friends what was whittled away by AIDS. He was the first one in the family to see the artist in me. I loved him in all of his eccentricities. Back then people didn't know how to discuss AIDS...or they didn't know how...or they didn't see why they should. Now time has passed. We've all become more aware and less scared.
The first real snowfall of the year fell last night. It covered the streets of New York with a white hush. That fresh new start doesn't change what lies beneath, but it lets us see the world around us in a new way -- with new beauty and new hope.