Interesting Times

Setting Up House

By Pat Gourley

Sage Story Telling
September 2016

Having moved many times in my adult life and once while still living at home with my parents I am quite familiar with setting up house. The first move in my teenage years was when my family left Northern Indiana and relocated to NE Illinois in 1965, I was 16 years old at the time. This was as it turned out a great change getting me out of rural Indiana. Unfortunately Mike Pence is really not an anomaly back there, and into a new home and school. At Marion Central Catholic High School I was taught by a great radical Holy Cross nun who to this day influences my world view. Oh and there was the older gentleman I met in my new surroundings who became my first queer love.

Though I have been very fortunate for never having to “set up house” after any sort of natural or manmade disaster I think this move as a teenager really set a tone for me later in life making frequent moves much easier.  All but one of my moves since age 18 has involved setting up home with other folks and a wide variety of individuals at that. Two moves in the last 50 years, totally 28 years, have involved setting up shop with a male lover. Having a loving companion in your life with whom you decide to share living space with is always a bit different than moving in with people who are just roommates.

My most recent move, now a little over three years ago, is unique in my adult life in that it has involved no one else — not a lover or any roommates. I really do yearn for more companionship in my day-to-day living situation and would prefer this be somebody or somebodies on site. A lover at this time is fraught with hurtles and unlikely to happen. My HIV status complicates this certainly but really the big issue is finding someone who could stand to share a bed with me. I get up to pee at night an inordinate number of times and my propensity to fart in bed occurs often enough each night to be a contribution to global warming, a form of methane one step from being weaponized: the one and really only drawback to a largely plant-based diet.

Even my cat has had to adjust to these frequent nightly wind emissions. He will only sleep spooning my belly even though it is just as cozy in the crook of my leg. The leg position however puts him directly in the line of fire and is avoided it seems at all costs.

So if I am to avoid one of my greatest fears of aging, living out my last years alone, it will need to be with roommates and individual bedrooms. I have many years of experience living communally and do hope that these last few years of going it alone have not made me into such a fussy old queen that sharing living space is now out of the question.

Though I have certainly learned to never say never I find the prospect of any sort of assisted living very unsettling and something I hope to avoid at all costs. Let’s be honest “assisted living” has become the politically correct euphemism for nursing home. Oh sure a few assisted living situations come with a supported modicum of independence but these often involve significant financial resources. Ending up in such a place is something I personally dread more than dying alone and being eaten by my cat before someone finds my body. I am therefore in support of ballot initiative 106, the medical aid in dying proposal on the November 2016 ballot here in Colorado.

I have, I think, walked a fine line in this writing group acknowledging the reality of my HIV status while trying to avoid weaving it into everything I have to say. It is far from everything I have to say and I feel stating it too often can really be disingenuous to say the least. Having said that my options for finding like-minded individuals these days to set up house with has been severely limited by the many individuals l have lost out of my life from AIDS. I would therefore find it a bit cathartic to have us write some time about taking down a house after the death of a lover, parent perhaps or simply a roommate. This would I think be something most if not all of us could write about.

 

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