Aging - or ” I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Published 12, Oct, 2012

MT O’Shaughnessy on when things go downhill: “it’s hard to tell when it’s about being an old fart and when it’s about being poz."

Once more I’ve been asked to sit on a panel and talk about HIV.  Apparently people still think it’s a good idea to suggest I sit in front of classes of young minds. I keep chuckling to myself that they really don’t know me well.”

This time I’m being asked to talk about something I’m being told is called ‘asexualization’.  Generally speaking it’s going to be a conversation about the process wherein a culture tends to view specific people as asexual due to a condition of some kind. 

Along the way to doing this I considered the various reasons behind the request. Obviously I’m going to be talking about the intersection of HIV and public opinion on sex. However I admit I was laughing when thinking about the other reasons some might prefer to think of me as asexual.  It struck me that at one point anyone over a certain age within the gay community was considered to no longer have a sexual identity.  And honestly now that I’m forty, an age I remember once being the mythical land of ‘as good as dead’ when I was younger, it’s a growing trend to discuss aging. 

Or it may be that it is for me. I mean, as my generation rolls over into our forties and fifties, we’re thinking a lot more about it. 

I’ve been sitting in on a few talks around HIV and aging, in fact.  The one thing that darkly amuses me is that never having been any older than this a lot of what is going on in life is a strange discovery process.  Is it getting older or is it HIV? 

It’s a fun game for when your other neuroses aren’t doing it for you. 

Recently work has been incredibly busy, for example. And day by day I am feeling more and more worn down as I spend masses of energy trying to keep up with what feels like the hundreds of projects we have going on.  And trying to keep up with the longer hours.   

For myself it is the perfect time to consider the age old movie saw: I’m getting too old for this shit. 

When I was diagnosed – and something I still heartily recommend to all newly diagnosed people – I sat myself down and started to seriously consider the issues I was going to give up gnawing at.  Essentially there is a list of things I gave up as no longer being useful to me as I try to keep my health steady.  Stress is clearly the top of the list. But the rest of the list is a series of life choices to lower stress, discussions I’ve given up on or situations I’m now more apt to walk away from, the realization being that I just don’t have the same kinds of resources I once did. 

Which sounds suspiciously like getting older, too.  

So being in relatively good health, knocking on wood like mad, there is a blurry line between simply being older and being poz.  I can still do all I’ve always done, but the pay out is getting a little steeper.  For instance I still can party all night and be up the next day. But.  At some point in the week I’m going to feel it and my body is going to shove a sharp stick at me muttering about damned whippersnappers and needing rest. 

Same with work loads.  I can do ten and twelve hour days.  Anyone can. And the first world problems of yours truly – an acknowledgement that I’m damned lucky to not have to work 14 hour days – are that I’ve not done those kinds of hours in ages.  Recently the strain of doing those kinds of hours has left me feeling like I’ve had some plug pulled somewhere and everything is slowing down.  

In fact I’m writing the final version of this while at home sick. 

Something I saw coming. I just can’t keep doing the high stress days without end.  I need time to recoup some of what I’ve spent.  Or… as now, I’m prone to get sick.  

Thankfully not only are my employers understanding about all this, also it’s nothing major beyond a minor bug that’s been going around the office.  I’ll be back up and roaring in a day or two. 

But it’s a timely reminder.  And an interesting conundrum.  

I often discuss issues in my life around a few specific set points.  Homosexuality and HIV being two. These days I’m having to consider there are issues that are starting to pop up that might be influenced by one or the other, or might be the result of a brand new variable.  Age. 

It’s not all that easy, to be honest.  To distinguish the factors, that is.  Getting older is a blast, honestly.  I don’t know what we’re supposed to think about it, but turning forty has been the best thing I’ve ever experienced. My ‘give-a-fuck’ room is quickly emptying out, for one.  Feeling at home in my own life is improving daily.  Among other things. 

The whole health thing is a bit of a crapshoot, though.  And as I’ve said, it’s hard to tell when it’s about being an old fart and when it’s about being poz.  Or maybe… maybe I’m living in the time of miracles and the conversations are turning to that unique, that glorious discussion of being older and poz. 

Something twenty years ago we’d never have dreamed, let alone hoped, was possible.