Let me just establish, right up front, that I am not a writer. I let experts write, and I read.
But I succumbed to the editor’s pleas, and agreed to write this piece about why I am participating in Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS as a member of Team Dallas Voice.
When I heard about Team Dallas Voice, I agreed quickly to participate. I’m not sure that I really gave much thought to it. They asked and I said yes.
But then the enormity of what I had agreed to began to sink it. I was not simply agreeing to ride my bike for two days over some godforsaken distance. I was not just agreeing to something that would be a good way to get exercise.
I was agreeing to be part of something that is much bigger than I am. I was agreeing to be part of a team — and I did not want to let them down.
Let me tell you, this ain’t the biking that your momma used to do. This is serious, and so is the commitment. I started getting the equipment I needed and started riding. And then I realized how hard this was actually going to be.
I started thinking about what kind of sacrifices I was going to have to make to keep this commitment, and I simply wanted to slam my head in the wall.
What a selfish prig I am. It’s hard for me to get off my healthy behind and ride a bike?!
I started thinking about a good friend of mine who has AIDS, and a specific memory flooded back. My group of friends went to the lake one weekend, as we did back in the day. This particular friend and I spent all morning cooking because, well, we rock at cooking. Everyone ate and then sat and wallowed in their overstuffed glory. Those that did not cook cleaned up everything.
I was inside — after everything was emptied, washed and put away — and I noticed my friend who had helped cook the meal had not eaten anything. At first I thought it was because he simply couldn’t think about eating any of the banana walnut pancakes after having spent all that time cooking. I get like that sometimes when I cook.
But that didn’t seem right; he was obviously hungry. So I did the most logical thing: I asked him why the hell he hadn’t eaten anything when he was clearly hungry.
I didn’t expect the answer I got.
He said he couldn’t eat anything right then because it was not the right time. I had no idea what that meant. He proceeded to explain.
All the medications he takes to combat the AIDS virus have rules: "You have to take this at this time, and this at that time, and you can’t eat before this one, but you have to wait to eat this many hours after that one."
I was appalled. I was furious with our friends for not realizing his situation, for not noticing what I noticed. But hey, I never knew all that either. No one ever told me how it was.
No one ever tells anyone how daily life is for people with HIV, and I think that is wrong. Everyone should know how this disease takes away the spontaneity of life.
You can live with anything if you have to, but you shouldn’t have to.
So I am riding for my friend and all our friends and family members, so they can have the banana walnut pancakes whenever they want and never have to worry about a clock again.
Come ride with us. Help make a difference.
The Lone Star Ride Journal will appear weekly in Dallas Voice through Sept. 5, the Friday preceding the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sept. 26-27. Weekly installments will be written by different members of Team Dallas Voice who are either riding in the event or are crew members.
For more information on Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, go to www.lonestarride.org. Team Dallas Voice is recruiting new members and accepting donations.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 5, 2009.