Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 612
When Paul Monette wrote this memoir, he was himself on borrowed time—he knew that he would die from AIDS—and he was committed to exploring how his partner, Roger Horwitz, had spent the last phase of his time before AIDS took him. Roger’s time was shockingly brief, less than two years between diagnosis and death.
Roger Horwitz, my beloved friend, died of complications of AIDS on October 22, 1986, nineteen months and ten days after his diagnosis.
For countless others as well, time took on a new meaning as AIDS and HIV-related diseases became an epidemic in the early-mid 1980s. Monette states that his perspective changed as he sees the world as defined by “its endings and its closures,” by what comes after the hyphen in a date.
One reason that Monette decided it was important to tell their stories was to insert some information into the vast sea of ignorance about AIDS. In addition, he understands the randomness that led him to survive and document their journey. He explains that decisions to practice safe sex—what he calls staying inside a “magic circle”—that they and many others made by 1982 may have come too late, and that years could pass between exposure and the kinds of symptoms that would prompt someone to seek a medical diagnosis.
Yet with caution as our watchword starting in February of ’82, Roger was diagnosed with AIDS three years later. So the turning over of new leaves was not to be on everybody’s side. A lot of us were already ticking and didn’t even know. The magic circle my generation is trying to stay within the borders of is only as real as the random past. Perhaps the young can life in the magic circle, but only if those of us who are ticking will tell our story.
Another issue that Monette raises is the difficulty of diagnosis because symptoms often overlap with many other diseases so affected persons would not necessarily suspect AIDS. He discusses first learning up-close about symptoms when one of their close friends, Cesar, was diagnosed after having a biopsy of a tiny lesion. Even the small wound from the biopsy never healed, and his leg began to swell. The apparently unrelated symptom of fatigue became more pronounced as the disease advanced.
It is very hard to separate symptoms and degrees of illness . . . . The dozens of cases...
(The entire section contains 612 words.)
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