Monday, 23 May 2022

#TheAIDSMemorial #WhatIsRememberedLives Chris Clark

 

Chris Clark (1973 - 2009)

The AIDS Memorial

I follow the Instagram page of TheAIDSMemorial where the theme of #WhatIsRememberedLives memorialises the many who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, some many in the late 1980s into the 1990s and even after.

I lost many friends to the plague, and I also made many friends who live as witnesses to the wonders of medicine that now keeps many of us alive. Some were really close friends and their loss shook me to the core, then, one was a lover, for whom the unexpected and sudden realisation of his demise is quite difficult even as I was fighting for my own life on the diagnosis of AIDS and cancer.

Many of us in losing friends or partners of a sexual minority rarely had support or comfort for our losses and grief. Some were ostracised or excluded from the obsequies of people they loved in life out of secrecy, shame, animosity, stigma, or denial. In The AIDS Memorial page, we find an opportunity to remember and ensure those significant relationships are never forgotten.

Of loves lost

That lover was Chris Clark, and this is the only picture I have of Chris Clark (May 30, 1973 - c. October 14, 2009). We met online in late 2003 when he lived in London and I in Amsterdam, there was such an attractive quality about him, his story, his experiences, and his ambitions that drew me to him, I guess I was smitten by that personality.

We tried hard to build a relationship, but I was unsure of what it would entail, I guess I was once afraid and I was lazy about the prospect of a long-distance relationship, I should have been bolder, but I learnt hard lessons in the process. He came to stay with me in Amsterdam when I realised that my cooking was too spicy for him.

Other places we met up for snatches of affection and more were in Berlin and at Playa del Ingles, it didn't bother me footing the expense, I was never able to use my head when it came to Chris, I was all heart and no sense.

In pain and in forgiving

His mum threw him out of their home at the age of 15 when he declared his homosexuality and somehow, it fell to a stranger who took him off the streets of London and then to the United States of America where he finished school and tried a career in film and photography.

Later, he moved to Amsterdam with a partner who sadly committed suicide by drowning in a canal. Much as he had hardships and challenges in his life, the parents who rejected him as he was growing up could not trust any of his apparently responsible older siblings to care for them as they were dying, they called on the humanity of Chris to give them the send-off they desired, and he acquitted himself well in that regard.

He lost his mother in February 2007, she died in his arms and his father in December of the same year, he bore the full cost for the funeral arrangements whilst the siblings quibbled about the estate. His father left everything to him as for everything they did to him, he was the only one that could be trusted to do right. Chris had a large and forgiving heart. I tried to offer emotional support in the absence of family, we last met up greeting in the new year of 2008 in Playa del Ingles.

When he died

He became HIV+ probably a few years before I did, but there were times when he did not have enough to eat in support of his essential medication. I sometimes think he allowed his condition to deteriorate over time. We grew estranged though we maintained sporadic communication into 2009 when my health slowly descended into full-blown AIDS I was hospitalised in late September 2009.

He constantly asked after me sending me text messages I did not promptly respond to, I felt Chris was too deep in my life in some of the things he did that I needed to protect myself, my heart, my emotions, and my mental health even as I was besotted with him. He invited me to Facebook which I did not respond to until after his passing.

I left the hospital on the 9th of October 2009 and as I was settling down just over a week later, I sent a message to his mobile phone and got a shocking response from his flatmate, Chris had died at home of renal failure just around the 14th of October, a few days after my discharge from hospital.

A memorial deserved

I had many fond memories of Chris, and I grieved his passing for many years. One Christmas, I did get the Christmas tree we argued about because I did not want one and he did. It was one way of memorialising him. In fact, I grieved alone sometimes leaving a message on his Facebook on birthdays and the supposed date of his death.

I thought I would never find love again until it took something so extraordinarily special that first reminded me of Chris and then informed me that I could move on from Chris, it took over 9 years for that to happen. He had that cheeky smile, a dry sense of humour, a way of pulling at your heartstrings and a wonderful personality.

I have wanted to write this for a long time, thank you Chris for sharing some time and love with me. Akin Akintayo

I wrote an AIDSMemorial page for Chris Clark in two parts, Part I and Part II, this blog fleshes out parts that I did not include for space constraints.

Monday, 16 May 2022

In Telling: The spirit that sustains

Strength from within

I sometimes think about the effects of illness and how vulnerability and infirmity change your outlook, your inadequacies are exposed in ways you can never have been prepared for, and you are left with just your spirit to sustain you through it all.

In many ways, you cannot account from further than the next tick of the clock, for the pain, you can only have so much medication to dull it without putting you into a stupor because you still need to function in some way.

Then you wonder about the incredible resilience of our being, for whether we survive or not, there is no accounting for the strength that we usually never know we had. It is like you are tested to the limit and then some, if your body can just tolerate what it is put to it, providence and fortune might give you a story to tell.

In the passage of time

I am humbled by my experience and then I think about the fact that when I went for the Spring booster the NHS website failed to provide adequate information for when I was registering, I am not considered in a vulnerable cohort of the immunosuppressed, because my CD4 count is not over double the minimum threshold, though I think my medical history should make me eligible.

Whether it is good or bad news is beside the point, what I cannot afford at any time is to contract the Coronavirus and so, I still wear my face mask in enclosed places, avoid crowded spaces, and take necessary precautions. That is just how life is today.

A story to tell

I was chatting to my best friend last week and he asked that I consider writing about serious illness, how people face it, and how we try to get beneficial outcomes against the onslaught of the medical establishment which may not always be acting in our favour, especially when the experts are too arrogant and self-important to listen to our own perspective of what we are going through and what it is we need.

I am not quite sure of how this would go, but I can only write about my own experience and I hope those who read my story might find something of help or usefulness, I guess that is just what I will do.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Thought Picnic: Knowing allies from the lies

Knowing an ally

An ally is a person or organisation that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.

Allying is combining or uniting resources or commodities with (another) for mutual benefit.

Earlier today on Twitter, I read of someone who was withdrawing his allyship with the LGBTQ+ community because we were not worth supporting. It read so totally like the typical self-important delusion of grandeur of someone who was never invested in a cause, they are like hit-and-run perpetrators of opportunistic lip-service that once engaged on their perfidious and superfluous premises become disillusioned castigating others as ungrateful as they lament their thankless situation.

Allies are invested

Indeed, all minorities of any persuasion need allies, and their contribution to the arc of justice and humanity that affords us relevance, respect, dignity, and protection from abuse, menace, or violence is welcome.

However, before we had allies, we were who we were, sometimes living dangerously, but living, all the same, thriving, organising, and speaking up for ourselves that we were noticed enough for others to join cause with us in the pursuit of equality and justice.

Allyship is invested and engaged, rarely incidental just as fair-weather hoppers on trendy bandwagons are not allies, they are just notorious and garrulous self-interested, self-promoting parasites drawing attention to themselves and away from the causes, they portend to support. They have no principled stance, and they stand for nothing, their pretence to liberalism is everything but, they are utterly vacuous.

Allies stick with it

True allies usually do not walk away when the going gets tough, they have life-long investments and interests in the cause that they will not allow to be impugned or usurped. The cause is not external and abstract, they are involved sometimes through situations they cannot have accounted for.

I think of my parents as allies, for they have had to review their frame of reference to include something they do not understand. They have had to travel a difficult road into the realm of being directly affected, and this applies to many we have bonds and relationships with.

They have a gay son; what does that even mean in the context of their worldview? Yet, they resolved to accept the person and the personality of their son with all the difficulties and questions that entails. They demonstrate strength in embracing me with love and affection, prayerfully supplicating for my happiness and health, blessing me at every opportunity and bringing my loves and affections into the sphere of belonging.

Allies have heart in it

They decided that society, community, tradition, or beliefs will not define or regulate our relationship. I may be different, but I am still their beloved offspring.

These are the words of an ally, my father said, “You are my son, I will not reject you.” Then some faceless insignificant nonentity thinks I depend on them for allyship, existence, and fulfilment? I guess social media is a platform for ignorant self-aggrandisement and befuddling idiocy. I saw that today.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

It's walking and it's working - XIV

Get on up and go

There are mornings that I have woken up early as I like to do my walking exercise at dawn just as the sun is rising and the city is less busy, apart from trying to avoid meeting up with that devil dog and its atrocious owner. Then I feel, I am not that up to it, I need a bit more sleep.

Often, I do levitate myself off the bed by the force of will and get on with it, because I am left needing to get that 10,000-step threshold in the reckoning or I feel I am losing something. However, I do not beat myself up, like for instance, in April, for the last 6 days I barely got 5,000 steps done daily because I was a bit indisposed, however, since I had more than the 10,000-step average for the month by the 20th day, it was not that bad, it just pulled down the average for the year.

Just pressing on regardless

The walking exercise that I began in late July 2020 is a lonely and individual activity that requires some discipline, dedication, and determination, I want to believe that somewhere in my lazy bones, I have some of all that. I get up, come rain or shine, in the light or the dark, feeling strong or weak and get out to do the steps.

For a while, I was seeing no effects, my weight stuck up where I never wanted it to be, I could not for the life of me understand what else I had to do, I was not going to go down some dieting route or get into the gym to find muscles in places I never knew they could exist. I was focused on the walking, keeping at it and convinced that eventually, something would begin to show. Observations by my boyfriend during our video conversations did not convince me of the expected changes.

Improvements are showing up

However, in the last 6 weeks, things have shifted, I have gone from the highest weight that the scales have truthfully displayed to losing over 8 kilograms. I am not at the best weight I attained in October 2020, but I feel it might soon get there and better.

When I started walking, I barely made 3,000 steps in a half-hour, now, I easily breach 4,500 steps in 30 minutes, though I do not think I can make it 5,000 steps, even if Brian has suggested I walk like one of the cartoon characters in Scooby-Doo, at first I thought he was referring on the one of the four-legged variety, but it was one of the bipedal females he was alluding to that I first thought was Daphne, but he meant Velma. He says he can’t keep up with my walking, even though if he stood by the Eiffel Tower, his legs might just dwarf the edifice.

The statistics are an impetus

In general, I can get my 10,000 steps done in 75 minutes, I have even managed 64 minutes, which is good going. Today, I stayed in bed and then for my late lunch break stepped out for just over 11,000 steps and then after a post-work nap, I added just over 18,000 steps leaving me with around 500 steps to hit 30,000 steps, so, I went for a quick stroll down that street and back to get that number done.

The way my health app breaks down the statistics of my activity gives me an idea of how well I am doing, the times when I could do 7 kilometres in an hour seems to have eluded me, I barely get a kilometre done in 9 minutes. However, getting my heart rate up for intensity is good and I try to work within the aerobic and anaerobic range, the cadence is usually around 140 steps a minute, though my eyes almost popped out when I saw 174 steps a minute this evening and then 177 steps a minute in my earlier walk. I must have been gliding or floating on air as I rarely get 160 steps a minute for my morning walks.

As a creature of habit, the morning walk has a route that yields just over 15,000 steps in 1:50 hours or less and that is before I start work at 8:00 AM. Even without an accountability partner, someone to imitate, or the urging of a coach or mentor, I can say more confidently that it’s walking and it’s working.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

In the posterity of posteriors

All in the wiggle

When I think of the old lady who swallowed a fly and then embarked on a Matryoshka doll version of an incessant consumption of one inedible predator after another to go after each consumed prey, one rarely thinks of what each one did inside her, considering they were all eaten alive.

At least, that's the impression you get when you read the part that says, that jiggled, and wriggled, and wiggled, inside her, and there are many versions of what the spider did, including tiggled which all might allude to the exclusive choreography of arachnids. [Words for Life: There was an old lady]

Quite much of a wiggle

However, nothing prepared me for the sight I beheld of a lady as she walked in front of me, in tights that seemed to accentuate every facet of her backside probably in the quest for a mate so disposed to that kind of spectacle.

For it did jiggle, and wiggle, and wriggle before me, I almost died from the assault that to avert my gaze that is not affected by the propinquity of the feminine gluteus maximus, I sped up past her and heaved a sigh of relief.

Posterity has a giggle

Finally, as if we have not been so seriously sinned against by those determined to lead any or all into temptation in contravention of the Lord's prayer; at the main supermarket, emblazoned in cheap faux crystals too prominent to unsee, she had Juicy written on her derriere, well, the trousers.

If any were an old lady, I do wonder what would have become of them. In terms of those forgettably forgettable sights, posterity puts a posterior on it.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Thought Picnic: Through the glass darkly

Limited perspectives to work with

Sometimes, I have to be aware of the fact that regardless of how I am involved or invited into a situation that I do not have the full oversight of, I am quite limited in the quality of information I have to make decisions, draw conclusions, act wisely, or have judgements.

Yet, I realise that should not because of the foregoing and the limitations totally exclude me from having and stating a perspective based on the information one already has. Pertinently, you work with what you have got whilst seeking to improve on and gain more perspective and insight.

Invariably, certain judgements will be made whereupon additional evidence would lead to a review and reassessment of a previous position.

The fundamentals remain so

Then again, this should not abrogate the fundamentals and there are always fundamentals as the basis of the intricate situations we find ourselves in, that of cultivating and building of relationships. These self-same things matter, the de-escalation of conflict, an understanding of how far engagements can bear upon a situation to achieve either the expected or unfortunately the unattainable outcomes.

This is another serious component, the need to get counsel before radical personal decisions ensuring one has tested a premise against logic, reason, and reasonableness whilst reducing the danger of being left adrift and ostracised.

Reviewing standpoints on new insight

I reflect on a situation where what I thought I had observed was wrong after further enquiry, beyond which what I also learnt afterwards left me dissatisfied as to the findings, in discussions with the protagonist, their case was quite poorly made, at least to me.

Is it any wonder that on being intimated with a second-hand narrative, there was a better appreciation of the circumstances, not so much to excuse, even if there was enough to tolerate?

Whilst this does not make the conflict any easier to resolve, the de facto patriarch is essentially of limited means and scope to address certain issues that it is of a necessity to defer to me. Sadly, that point may not be entirely understood and entreaties to the patriarch would well exacerbate rather than ameliorate. My role is to find ways and means to address both immediacy and remoteness, hopefully with alacrity where provision exists, or it is deferred whilst noted.

In family matters, the complexities demand wisdom and a better sense of who can do what when met with difficulties. It behoves all to attain awareness for the reduction of conflict and the cohesion of familial ties.

Fleeting thoughts on expectation

The force of expectation

Expectation is a force and when involved with a plan set in motion, it is a powerful force of motivation, optimism, and hope. It sets your sights on a goal and mentally you begin to prepare yourself and everything for that thing.

When this is aligned with the spirit of love, more happens in terms of disposition and feelings, you just have this strong belief that something good is in the air as the countdown towards day, event, rendezvous, and person closes in on you.

Time in its fluidity of being distant and then close works its wonders as it progresses to a set point where things converge in the fulfilment of that expectation. If anything, in the actionable things of life and living, it is good to plan, set expectations, and work towards something. It helps focus and perspective, burnishes hope and enlivens things that give you a sense that things would be alright, for as they come to pass, we add to life's compendium of cherished moments.

I am wholly gratified that we have the means, opportunity, and the good fortune to live a life of great expectations, and long may this rejuvenation of circumstances happen.