MY LIFE ISSUE
Dreamed 1994/1/2 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a dark museum, the night before an art show opens. They're setting up dioramas--posed scenes, with plastic or papier-maché figures, based on photos. Each one shows the life issue of an artist, the private struggle they never write or paint or sing about.
My life is not here. My life issue isn't shown here.
But I suddenly see that I could stage my own diorama. I know what my issue is, now: environmental illness. I'm surprised I don't think first of love or sex or loneliness, but I don't. That's no secret! I talk about it in my art all the time.
Sickness is my LIFE ISSUE? How awful.
But that's what I'm most secretive about, most ashamed of. I write and paint my visions, my feelings, my politics, even my sexual weirdness and my shyness. But when it comes to chronic illness, I try to pass as normal, since no one will be attracted to me if they realize how limited my life is--what a minefield your world is for me.
"No one will love me if I come out?" That excuse sounds strangely familiar. Comes of living in San Francisco, I guess.
And as long as I'm learning from the gay liberation movement, here... how about another phrase: "SILENCE = DEATH!"
A FEW DAYS LATER
My housemate's friend Steven crashes in our guest room. He's a salesman for high-end audio systems for clubs and halls. He was at a convention in Vegas.
Steven tells me about his trip. I smile and nod blankly as he speaks of mysteries like first class flight vs coach, kinds of airplane drinks, limos, taxis... pleasures and distinctions that are all just potential allergy risks to me, when I travel!
He teaches me something--I finally get that for him, these aren't just status symbols, but genuine sensual pleasures worth struggling for. He's physically different from me, not just emotionally different. You all are. You live in another world. We have next to nothing in common--not even air.
Wake up sick again. My allergies have been severe and worsening ever since Christmas. I've been blaming it on the stress of all these holiday parties or visitors. But after the dream, I get suspicious, and search my room for new allergens. Notice a pile of unsorted little Christmas gifts near my bed. Sniff them like an animal. Something about them.... There's a tiny angel made of scented soap. It's tightly wrapped up, but a faint scent leaks out. Could I be reacting to THAT? Open it and... my eyes water in stress. Toxic.
I remove it and immediately feel a bit better. Still very tired.
And stunned that such a tiny thing, a gift of love, could have poisoned me for days.
But I'm afraid it did. My life issue.
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