Today I went to visit the grave of my best friend Paul, who died of AIDS in 1992. Paul was my brother in every way except biology. We became friends when we were seven and through everything life threw at us, we stood together and faced it. He believed in me even when I didn't, and his absence in my life still breaks my heart after fifteen years.
As I drove home, I thought about him and what he meant to me, then I thought about the book I wrote for him, a memoir I spent ten years writing, only to set on a shelf in my room and never try to publish. Why did I put it away? Life got hectic and I started writing a new book, so the book about Paul was stuck on a bottom shelf and ignored.
But today, my Muse pulled it off the shelf and hit me with it. Without a word, she struck me on the back of my head with the heavy, plastic binder, and then plopped the manuscript in my lap. She vanished before I could complain. I touched the cover, opened to the first page, saw some things I would change, shut the binder quickly, and just sat there. Do I really want to take this project on again?
I smiled. Yes, I do. I need to share this story; tell people who Paul was and what he means to me. Show people how friendship is more powerful than AIDS or death. Remind us all that AIDS is still here; it didn't move to Africa at the turn of the century. And, because the mission of Medusa's Muse Press is to look despair in the eye and transform it into something beautiful. Besides, what my Muse commands I must obey.
Before my Muse found me, before I discovered Ariel Gore, Paul was my inspiration and mentor. When he died, he became my guide. My very first, original muse.