>Thoughts from the 12th Annual World AIDS Day Reading of the Names Vigil

December 2, 2006 § 1 Comment

>The reading at City Hall takes place from midnight to midnight today, and consists of five podiums in a semi-circle with five people simultaneously reading names. You can read for as short or as long as you want and for people who don’t like the sound of their own voice (me), the good news is that we are all reading different names at the same time.

Here are my thoughts that I scribbled during my four-hour shift at the reading:

First time reading:
*Whose lips have touched this microphone besides mine?
*What if I read names incorrectly and people ask me to stop reading or start laughing at me?
*Maybe I need to read louder to give the people who’ve passed away respect.
*Slow down, think of each person, each life, each meaningful existence. Who were they? What was their life like?
*Listen to the other people reading around me. What are they thinking about? Who are the people that they are naming?
*What if I accidentally skip a name? Will they be remembered? Will their name be spoken aloud before next year’s vigil?
*This is being broadcast live on NPR. I hope the families are not disappointed with the way we’re pronouncing the names.

-When I sat down after the first reading, I realized some of the same names are at different podiums, so if I accidentally skipped a name, someone else would read it.

Second reading:
*I’m more distracted and I keep messing up names.
*I touched my lips to the microphone again. I ended up at the same podium again, so it’s the same microphone.
*This time, I’m trying to take my time, breathe, and read louder.

-And then the rain came. At first, it was gentle:
*My coworker, Eddie was holding an umbrella for one of the women reading. It was time for him to leave (his shift had ended) so I offered to hold the umbrella.
*The wind picked up and the woman kept going. We got soaked, the rain flooding in from every direction.
*I huddled closer, and one of the volunteers handed us another umbrella so I was trying to shield this woman and myself from two directions.
*The wind kept picking up and I wasn’t strong enough to hold the umbrellas.
*I liked huddling next to this woman, watching her read from the list of names. I don’t know her and I may never see her again, but standing under the umbrellas with her in the pouring rain, I felt so close to her and so good.
*When we finally got off the podium, she turned and said, “Thanks” to me. Stupidly, I said, “Thank YOU.”

With an hour left until my shift ends, I’m standing under the tent with other volunteers and employees, protected from the rain. My jeans, shoes, and socks are soaked. But I’m alive and listening to the names and the rain is finally letting up.


§ One Response to >Thoughts from the 12th Annual World AIDS Day Reading of the Names Vigil

  • aimee says:

    >omg! you were out in that crazy rain! whew. you are funny, touching the mike w/yr lips. all those thoughts are probably the same thoughts that everyone up there has. i would be SO mortified b/c i have horrible fear, and always have, of mispronouncing things. it’s worse than misspelling things. but i’m glad you were part of it. and you’re not stupid for saying thank YOU. it takes practice to relearn saying you’re welcome. i’m doing that now. it’s a nice shift.

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