I’m working right now on the chapter on why people ride (stories of how HIV has impacted people’s lives), and it’s proving an intense creative experience. These stories are so powerful that they really don’t need any embellishment–I could practically type them up, string them together with a little prose, and publish it straight up. (Which may well be what I wind up doing.) Right now I’m working on the story of a man whose brother died of AIDS, and the intense loss and guilt over not being able to do more for him, that led to his signing up for the Boston-New York ride ten years ago. This year, he rode with his partner/husband of ten years–who tested HIV-positive six months ago. As he says, “I’ve lost one of the most important men in my life to AIDS. Losing another isn’t an option.”
It’s difficult writing down these stories because they’re so intense that practically anything I say mushes into banality next to them. They’re so full of expressiveness, of grief, of celebration of the human spirit that it’s hard for me to think of anything to say after it, how to organize and shuffle around the stories and forge them into something even more powerful. I feel honored to be working with such material, and more than a little intimidated. But these stories, difficult as they are, are about what’s best in the human spirit, and so I find them inspiring.