Perhaps some of you recall the 1983 movie The Hunger, adapted from a book by the horrormeister Whitley Strieber. In the film, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie play glamorous New York City vampires. Very cool film, by the way — the first scene alone was worth the price of admission. It opens in a nightclub to the strains of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus. There they are, Bowie and Deneuve, who even in real life appear to be ageless — terminally chic in their shades; cool, sleek predators trolling the place for their next vic. It’s one of those gothy-punky NYC clubs where everyone looks like a ghoul anyway. The place is packed with young beautiful people who seem to be simultaneously mocking and worshipping death.
Deneuve plays an ancient vampire who is beautiful, ageless, and immortal. She’s lived for countless centuries. Every 200 years or so, she selects a “life” partner and turns him or her into a vampire, too. All is blissful — even though a lot of mortals have to be sacrificed along the way for their blood feasts — and her partners live a century or two without aging a day.
The problem is that eventually her partners do age and disintegrate, but they don’t die. At this point, she puts them in a mausoleum in the bowels of her Manhattan mansion and visits them from time to time. They are still alive — barely — and she still “loves” them, but being a serial monogamist, she moves on to the next partner. But of course, at the end of the film one of her new would-be lovers (in this case, Susan Sarandon) manages to turn her into an old shrew before destroying her once and for all.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that there’s probably not that many people who could handle the notion of living forever. For one thing, everyone you ever loved would die, and your health — well — maybe not so great. And more to the point, what would it be like if you had all the time in the world to do — well — anything? (This notion, by the way, was supported by a recent poll I read in a New York paper which said that the average age people wanted to live was, like, 87 or something. Very few wanted to live to see 100.)
If organisms could exist without a struggle to survive, I think there would be very little progress or evolution. Part of the life force involves a fight to get what we need, whether it be food, or love, or sex, or recognition, or money, or a clean toilet. The needs become more sophisticated and complex as we move up the food chain. My boyfriend BG’s cat, being a cat, has simpler requirements. Food, fresh water, a clean place to shit, pigeons in the window to vex her, and some love and attention are all this kitty needs to be happy. Well, except for the fact that being an indoor cat with no real access to any mice or other wildlife to hunt, every evening she does a mad crazy dash around BG’s apartment. After reading up on cat behavior, I’ve learned this is normal and necessary. A housecat must do this because her instinct requires her to engage in some hunting/chasing/fleeing activity that she cannot satisfy for real in captivity. In other words, her life is so cushy that she needs to let her hair (or fur) down a little and pretend there’s some reason to dash madly around the safe, secure apartment where she needn’t hunt for her dinner or flee from dogs with an attitude.
By the same token, I feel that knowing we are mortal and that we have to struggle to get what we want gives us a sense of urgency. Sine we won’t have forever, there is a “deadline” attached to everything we hope to accomplish in our lifetimes. If we had forever to pursue our goals, I think the world would come to a standstill in the same way it would if we didn’t need to eat or compete — even if we only compete with ourselves.
Which all leads up to my observation, unscientific as it may be, that a lot of bloggers seem to be quitting, going on hiatus, and/or in a deep funk. It is very jarring to visit site after site that you assume will always be there and log on one day to find that this will be a blogger’s last post. Some stop because they can’t handle flamers; some to pursue other interests like writing a book; some because they’ve found that blogging is preventing them from pursuing their “real” lives to their satisfaction.
But it is always a shock to see a site that has become very popular just give it all up. It smacks of some sort of deep disillusionment and despair to totally quit something that you’ve worked hard to establish. I’m talking here of bloggers who have stayed the course, rather than those who try blogging and then give it up after a few months, realizing it isn’t for them.
Maybe they realize that life is indeed short, and they don’t want to spend one hundred years in front of a computer screen. One of my ex-boyfriend’s brothers died sitting in front of his computer, which seemed very poignant to me. Is that what I want to do — sit in a tiny apartment all day and blog myself to death?
Since I emerged from yet another very severe depression about two years ago, I have gone through a few hypomanic periods. There is perhaps no way to describe what it feels like to go from the depths of hell back into the world of the living feeling not just normal, but invincible. It’s like you’ve gotten a new lease on life. Moreover, most of my hypomanic episodes seem to happen in early spring, which feels kind of like your life is in rhythm with nature as it blossoms again after a long, cold, dark winter.
So although the illness is still with me, I feel like I’ve been given a reprieve, and feel very grateful. But I also know that now is the time to enjoy life to the fullest, because with every passing year that races by, I’m closer to the end and I want to cram as much as I can into it.
But — aside from the fact that my hypomania has taken a hike — there are things that worry me. I worry about the fact that BG and I smoke so much. I worry about the fact that since I started blogging, I’m not eating right or exercising, and that BG and I don’t spend time doing as many things together. We used to go for outings and long walks. Now BG goes alone while I stay home worshipping my computer screen. BG is seven years older than me, and has his own medical issues, including HIV, which he contracted years ago when he used to share needles. He was never a full time user or genuine addict, but he did like to indulge and at the time no one knew about the virus. He never cheated or stole for his habit, and continued to work and just use on the odd weekend. So although, knock wood, he is doing really well with the meds he’s on, he always tells me that he has a three-month reprieve, because he gets his T-cells and viral load tested every 90 days. His viral load is undetectable and his T-cells are sky high, which is very good. But still, this is something he has to contend with.
My parents both died at a young age from heart disease. They smoked, they ate the wrong foods, and they didn’t exercise. Guess who’s following in their footsteps? I’m 48, and my father only lived to see 50, my mother 57 (and she died before my dad).
At the same time, things seem to be falling apart so completely in the world that if I were of a certain bent, I would believe that the Apocalypse was nigh. Corruption, riots, war, natural disasters, new viral strains, terrorism, scandal, abuse of power, deception, and on and on.
Like some folks, BG tries to avoid watching the news. I, on the other hand, find myself drawn to it all like a car wreck. I can’t turn away from the horrors, awful as they are to behold.
So in the midst of all this mess, I’ve come to some realizations:
The world as we know it might come to an end at any time.
I have no guarantees that I won’t have another horrifying bout of major depression.
BG and I will not live forever, and unless we have a suicide pact or we get nuked, we will probably not die at the same time, leaving one of us bereft.
The upside of all this, however, is the fact that knowing that life has a deadline means that I should try to live each day as if it were my last, cliche or no. I don’t have forever to do the things I want to do.
And perhaps that’s one reason why some very successful bloggers have decided to call it quits. As for me, no way — but it might behoove me to get back to more of the “we” time BG and I had and to do all the things we’ve put off doing, whether it be traveling or trying to meet new people or further exploring the city we love. I’d hate to think that our only consolation if we got bombed out of existence would be that quitting smoking and eating right would have been a waste of time after all.