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But here, in the stillness that is ever moving, it’s like that life never existed. Now, because of my disability, I have to use a walker or a cane, and I am always on the brink of utter exhaustion. Where once I traveled the world, and always had people around me, now I can’t walk more than 100 feet without burning out.

I go months sometimes without seeing another person, much less a gay one.

Now I was told my own immune system was attacking my brain, and in turn all the other organs in my body were failing.

The brain inflammation causes dementia, infections, and an endless list of symptoms and co-morbidities.

Then we would watch a movie outside in the park under the forever-orange sky.

Sometimes we would hit up a lesbian-friendly sex shop late at night before heading home, holding up dildos and dental dams and whips and making stupid jokes – the kind of jokes you make when you know your friends get you, and love you no matter who you are.

Here in the Everglades, living down by the edge of the ocean, I celebrated my birthday by climbing into a kayak and setting off into the salt water for parts unknown, on my own.

There are barracuda and crabs that I can see from my small saltwater dock, huge silvery tarpon, slow gray manatees, and a gigantic old lobster that lives underneath a few sunken wooden slats where the dock caved in after a hurricane.

There are nurse sharks, and peregrine falcons, and black cormorants, and iguanas, and scorpions galore. I eat flower salad on the daily (made entirely of edible flowers), with fresh coconut or lime or banana or tropical cherries I planted myself in the yard.

This incredibly beautiful place, but I must love all on my own.

Every year on my birthday, in my old life, I would call my friends and we would traipse through the city streets to an eclectic restaurant.

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