January 6, 2012
First and foremost, what I remember about Bonnie is that she was persistent and for that, I am so very grateful.
During the summers of 2006, 2007 and 2008, my stepfather drove me to work every morning, and every morning he asked me the same question: What do you want to do (with your life)? Every morning I would give one unsatisfactory answer after the other, eventually defaulting to "I don't know," although I knew I wanted to do something AIDS-related, study sociology and write. My indecision somehow led to me enroll in career college in November 2008 to become an office assistant because, as my stepfather said, I had to do something.
By the next summer my time at career college was almost finished. I was always done with my work early which unfailingly gave me an abundance of time to do my own thing, which frequently involved surfing Twitter and TheBody.com; and in July I retweeted a tweet by someone I wasn't following and had heard of but wasn't really sure how or where or why, named Bonnie Goldman. It said: "My first blog! Check it out. www.thebody.com/content/art52876.html #HIV #AIDS"
I read that article, then read it again, and again, and that same day sent a message: "I am wondering how I can become a blogger for TheBody.com. I have been involved in HIV/AIDS activism for 12 years and am really looking to expand my activities in a positive, global way. Thanks!"
An hour later Bonnie replied: "Hi Aless: Thanks for writing! Give me your phone number and let me know a good time and we can talk."
But before I was a blogger for TheBody.com, during those first, tentative emails to Bonnie, I was a scared 20-something who saw this (blogging for TheBody.com) as a big and intimidating step. So after I sent off a resume, my number, and Edward's reference letter just for good measure (I really wanted this!), I sent another email that said the opposite, that I'd changed my mind. She replied, in part:
"... I think you'd be great. You should just do it ... we need young people to speak out and inspire others. Please reconsider. ... We need more people like you!"
I am endlessly grateful for the gift Bonnie gave me when she urged me to reconsider; of course I did. What I got in return was that elusive community Ned Weeks longed for in The Normal Heart, one of passionate, wonderful individuals committed to spreading the truth, and ending AIDS, and something I love to do with all my heart (blog for TheBody.com). And now I will not get to thank her. I thought, as so many do so often, that there would be more time.
Bonnie's last email to me ended: "Best of luck and I hope you regularly write blogs! Your voice is important."
It's only been a day since I found out and I already miss her voice and her presence, and the fact that there will never be anything new from her now.
Rest in peace, Bonnie; you will not be forgotten.