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Dec14

Like a fine wine - or just getting older?

Friday, 14 December 2012 Author // Matt Levine Categories // Aging, Gay Men, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Matt Levine

New writer Matt Levine: “Of course living with HIV doesn’t make you better looking. Neither does, getting older. But maybe living with life’s uncertainties....has made me more soulful, more adept in the bedroom or skillful in sautéing a roast?”

Like a fine wine  - or just getting older?

Walk into my apartment and hanging near the door, is a framed piece of junk mail I received shortly after my 50th birthday. 

Free Pre-Paid Cremation!  Details Inside” bid the elegant printing on a little envelope that reminded me of the letters I used to receive from grandma when I was in college. 

While I love bargains I had no interest in buying a niche from The Neptune Society no matter how much money I’d save on the ashes to ashes part of my final demise. Yet I was thrilled I’d made it far enough in life to get the offer. Despite the wrath and randomness of life’s viral wheel of fortune I’m a survivor, at peace with my infection, grateful for getting older, while knocking on wood along the way. 

What’s more other benefits of aging are evident, suggesting that most noxious of grown-up expressions – youth is wasted on the young – has far more merit than I ever expected. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that middle-aged me is looking to meet, date and fall (in love, in the sack or somewhere in between) with someone a lot like me. Though, if he was better with money and baking pies, that would be nice too. 

In case you’re thinking Dorian Gray, wrong-o! Substitute Whitney Houston for Oscar Wilde and you’re closer.  While both the song and the expression make the hair on my back stand up, the truth is that learning to love your self has a lot to do with my newfound ease.  

More specifically my litany of fearful anxieties –internal monologues or mumbled out loud – have vacated the cranial premises. Whether negotiating with a client or navigating the path from the sofa to the bedroom, its gotten quiet upstairs. My anxieties – too hairy, too chatty, too cuddly, too infected, too old, too interested, too breathy – have been replaced with a new confidence, near cockiness that never existed in my first 50 years. 

Was this shift just evidence of the grace of getting older? Somehow that seemed too easy. Instead I wondered if being infected, if never having the luxury or arrogance to take getting older for granted made me more peaceful, assertive and even more appealing? 

Of course living with HIV doesn’t make you better looking. Neither does, getting older. But maybe living with life’s uncertainties, it’s grace and gravitas, has made me more soulful, more adept in the bedroom or skillful in sautéing a roast? 

I’m not a big believer in causality. Life is usually more grey than black or white. I’ll probably never know why those salmon burgers from Trader Joe’s I’d always loved started tasting more like rancid cat food or why my hatred for Angelina Jolie disappeared or why I think anyone who gets to date me is lucky.   

Maybe I’m just benefitting from the new vogue for hairy guys or my good friend Scott who taught me about moisturizing after spending hours in the sun.  Whatever the cause I’m just thankful I’ve gotten this far and enjoying the ride.  

About the Author

Matt Levine

Matt Levine

Despite a passionate childhood love affair with iceberg lettuce and anything sugary, Matt Levine has worked the last 27 years in the natural and organic foods business.Born in Stamford, Connecticut, he lived in some of the grungier areas of New York City before moving to the Elysian Fields of San Francisco in 1989.

Despite graduating from college with honors, he drove a taxicab in Manhattan, a decision he credits with his father's refusal to co-sign a loan to open a natural foods store in his hometown.Matt tries to make those who would listen believe that said store of his dreams would have sold to Whole Foods for millions of dollars.Regardless, his love for his father remained and he is only occasionally bitter, mainly for dramatic effect.

He currently works as a freelance research analyst and publishes the much–loved but under–visited Natural Business News. In his free time, he mentors at-risk youth and follows his beloved New York Mets and New York Giants with more passion than is advisable.