Sage Warren

Sagebrush
  • My Goal:
  • $2,000
  • Raised So Far:
  • $2,000
  • # of Donations:
  • 24
$2000 of $2000 goal
+
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To give you more of an introspective on why I’ve decided to do the NorCal AIDS ride (that is, if I’m able to raise the rest of the money) – I’m going to lend you a story about my life.  I’d like to think it’s at least equal parts entertaining as it is sad, but you can be the judge of that.  It is meaningful and it is from my heart.  

Those of you who have donated to my fund, my heart is full of love for you – you have all humbled me.  I didn’t know what to expect, going into something like this, but no matter what the result is in 10 days, this has been such an amazing experience, just feeling the extension of faith and support of my path has made a difference in the person I am becoming.

If you haven’t donated to my fund, I completely understand that money can be precious in our lives and can represent the stability of our homes, and you are still with me in this journey; those of you who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, it has been incredibly meaningful and they have reached me, stayed with me.  And they will continue to stay right here with me.

 

I knew my father had had HIV for years by the time I was told it had become AIDS. There are only a handful of distinct memories in my childhood where I remember an adult in my life telling me something of great importance, something that would shape my future, all during which I was very young and much shorter than the person talking to me, as if I was looking up to a giant telling me some clue about my future.  So around the age of 15, in 1993, I wasn’t greatly surprised when I was told it had progressed to AIDS, having lost my grandmother to breast cancer a couple of years prior; a woman who had raised me to be strong and resilient, and to know compassion, had been permanently removed from my life - for me, it followed that I was not shocked to hear my father would be taken as well.  But while the role he played in my life was dear and loving, his role for me was being my friend.  We had begun to learn so much about each other in recent years, likely under the fog of knowing the fairly inevitable, eventual future – on that day, it became much more inevitable, and our friendship and closeness continued to grow.  No one had developed any life-saving treatment regimens for AIDS in 1993; they were all hang-on-tight medications designed with hope that any minute, someone would run into the research hall at the CDC with a semi-final formula labeled “THIS WILL SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES.” 

In 1994, my mother, step-father, and I all uprooted and moved to Henderson, Nevada, to avoid any more ‘Northridge Earthquakes,’ and my father came to help us pack up our house and drive up the 15 North to Henderson with us – naturally, I opted to ride with him, as I only rarely saw him.  We drove for 5 hours until we reached the 900 block of Blanco Caballo Way in the city of Henderson, which presented as an under-construction city in the middle of the desert, a distant suburb of Las Vegas with a population of around 60,000.  Nearby was a fine dining restaurant by the name of Del Taco, which would be the home of my first full time job the following year, shortly after I would lose my father to complications of pneumonia and AIDS.  I mean, it was no Burger King, but it would have to do. 

In fall I transferred to the whitest high school in America from my former in Reseda.  You would think by the title, Basic High School, that it may be a continuation-style high school – which may even have been a good fit for me, had it been – but no, in fact, it was just named after the city’s previous name, Basic, NV, which in the 1950’s was incorporated into the city of Henderson.  All of this desolate city’s rich history unfolded into only one shitty fact for me: I’d get to tell folks I went to “Basic High School” for the rest of my life and they’d give me a look as though I’d just said, “I went to remedial high school.”  Although it wasn’t too far from our sad castle on Blanco Caballo, I took the school bus each morning, and a small group of boys in the back of the bus would begin talking shit about me like clockwork as I stepped onto it, like I was entering another terrible stretch of backlogged karma.

Fast-forward to late December as I finished up another two-week stint around pretty much the entire San Fernando Valley.  The ever-reliable Amtrak had dropped me off in Burbank to visit the friends I’d made in my time at Cleveland High School (which in contrast sounded like a perfectly normal high school for someone to attend – the kind that gets you no weird looks when you mention it).  It was Christmas Day and I’d woken up alone at Crystal’s house where I quickly lamented at the absence of narcotics in my body, and then moved on to watch some excellent 90’s television.  Later in the evening, I perused Crystal’s freezer, which housed one lone entrée – the one I hated most, the evil salisbury steak, presented by none other than Hungry Man.  It was all so fitting for a Monday night in the valley, it just happened to be Christmas, as well.

My father was in the hospital about 300 miles north of me, and I gave him a call to wish him a merry Christmas.

“What did you have for dinner?” I asked.

“Salisbury steak.  It was awful.”

We laughed together, though with some sadness in our voices, at how we both hated our Christmas dinners, and how they were the very same from hundreds of miles away. 

“So when do you get out of the hospital this time?”

“I don’t think I’m getting out this time, Sagey.”

I didn’t really believe him when he said it, though I knew the day was coming, as I had been told he didn’t want treatment any longer, beyond being comfortable.  I didn’t blame him for not wanting to suffer, I understood, even young, and even as innately angry as I’d become on my path.  It sounded like part of life, part of the disappointment of being human: your father has to go, soon, because sometimes people go.

“I love you, dad.”

“I love you, too.”

We spoke once more before the seventh of January, when he passed away in the middle of the night.  I was alone in my Henderson bedroom, lying in bed, and noticed something in the corner of my room.  I couldn’t see anything, but I knew something had arrived, and it felt comfortable, it felt warm and loving, and it was near the guitar he had given me a few years earlier.  And in the morning I was told, and I didn’t cry - it wasn’t something I understood how to do.  But I felt my identity shift, like a new layer of anger had grown inside of me since I could no longer reach my father.  The safety of his voice was no longer in my lifetime.

A few weeks later, I was in English class when a boy came in the room telling a joke about AIDS to some classmates.  He was considerably shorter than me, so I wasn’t exactly afraid of him, although I had no friends anywhere in sight on pretty much any day at Basic High School to back me up if I were involved in an altercation.  So, I went up to him and we had a little chat.

“Hey, man.  My dad recently died of AIDS, so I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell those jokes in our class.”  It was simple, it was concise, and even peaceful.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know.  Alright, I won’t anymore.”

A couple days passed and he came into class again telling another joke about AIDS.  This time I altered my approach.

He sat down at his desk and I grabbed his short blonde hair, and not gently nor particularly traumatizing, I put his head flat upon his desk.

“Maybe you didn’t understand what I said the other day.”

“But the boys in the back of the bus said you’re lying to get attention.”

I let go of his hair, some of it still between my fingers.  I felt in my heart that he wasn’t my actual problem – I mean, he was *a* problem, but he wasn’t my problem.

I got home a few hours later.  “Hey mom, I’m dropping out of school.”  She said a few things to try to convince me to stay, but concluded with, “If you drop out of school, you’re getting a job immediately.”  And those were the exact words I wanted to hear.

(to be continued one day)

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The Cause
Sage Warren is fundraising for 2017 NorCal AIDS Cycle benefiting NorCal AIDS Cycle.

To give you more of an introspective on why I’ve decided to do the NorCal AIDS ride (that is, if I’m able to raise the rest of the money) – I’m going to lend you a story about my life.  I’d like to think it’s at least equal parts entertaining as it is sad, but you can be the judge of that.  It is meaningful and it is from my heart.  

Those of you who have donated to my fund, my heart is full of love for you – you have all humbled me.  I didn’t know what to expect, going into something like this, but no matter what the result is in 10 days, this has been such an amazing experience, just feeling the extension of faith and support of my path has made a difference in the person I am becoming.

If you haven’t donated to my fund, I completely understand that money can be precious in our lives and can represent the stability of our homes, and you are still with me in this journey; those of you who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, it has been incredibly meaningful and they have reached me, stayed with me.  And they will continue to stay right here with me.

 

I knew my father had had HIV for years by the time I was told it had become AIDS. There are only a handful of distinct memories in my childhood where I remember an adult in my life telling me something of great importance, something that would shape my future, all during which I was very young and much shorter than the person talking to me, as if I was looking up to a giant telling me some clue about my future.  So around the age of 15, in 1993, I wasn’t greatly surprised when I was told it had progressed to AIDS, having lost my grandmother to breast cancer a couple of years prior; a woman who had raised me to be strong and resilient, and to know compassion, had been permanently removed from my life - for me, it followed that I was not shocked to hear my father would be taken as well.  But while the role he played in my life was dear and loving, his role for me was being my friend.  We had begun to learn so much about each other in recent years, likely under the fog of knowing the fairly inevitable, eventual future – on that day, it became much more inevitable, and our friendship and closeness continued to grow.  No one had developed any life-saving treatment regimens for AIDS in 1993; they were all hang-on-tight medications designed with hope that any minute, someone would run into the research hall at the CDC with a semi-final formula labeled “THIS WILL SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES.” 

In 1994, my mother, step-father, and I all uprooted and moved to Henderson, Nevada, to avoid any more ‘Northridge Earthquakes,’ and my father came to help us pack up our house and drive up the 15 North to Henderson with us – naturally, I opted to ride with him, as I only rarely saw him.  We drove for 5 hours until we reached the 900 block of Blanco Caballo Way in the city of Henderson, which presented as an under-construction city in the middle of the desert, a distant suburb of Las Vegas with a population of around 60,000.  Nearby was a fine dining restaurant by the name of Del Taco, which would be the home of my first full time job the following year, shortly after I would lose my father to complications of pneumonia and AIDS.  I mean, it was no Burger King, but it would have to do. 

In fall I transferred to the whitest high school in America from my former in Reseda.  You would think by the title, Basic High School, that it may be a continuation-style high school – which may even have been a good fit for me, had it been – but no, in fact, it was just named after the city’s previous name, Basic, NV, which in the 1950’s was incorporated into the city of Henderson.  All of this desolate city’s rich history unfolded into only one shitty fact for me: I’d get to tell folks I went to “Basic High School” for the rest of my life and they’d give me a look as though I’d just said, “I went to remedial high school.”  Although it wasn’t too far from our sad castle on Blanco Caballo, I took the school bus each morning, and a small group of boys in the back of the bus would begin talking shit about me like clockwork as I stepped onto it, like I was entering another terrible stretch of backlogged karma.

Fast-forward to late December as I finished up another two-week stint around pretty much the entire San Fernando Valley.  The ever-reliable Amtrak had dropped me off in Burbank to visit the friends I’d made in my time at Cleveland High School (which in contrast sounded like a perfectly normal high school for someone to attend – the kind that gets you no weird looks when you mention it).  It was Christmas Day and I’d woken up alone at Crystal’s house where I quickly lamented at the absence of narcotics in my body, and then moved on to watch some excellent 90’s television.  Later in the evening, I perused Crystal’s freezer, which housed one lone entrée – the one I hated most, the evil salisbury steak, presented by none other than Hungry Man.  It was all so fitting for a Monday night in the valley, it just happened to be Christmas, as well.

My father was in the hospital about 300 miles north of me, and I gave him a call to wish him a merry Christmas.

“What did you have for dinner?” I asked.

“Salisbury steak.  It was awful.”

We laughed together, though with some sadness in our voices, at how we both hated our Christmas dinners, and how they were the very same from hundreds of miles away. 

“So when do you get out of the hospital this time?”

“I don’t think I’m getting out this time, Sagey.”

I didn’t really believe him when he said it, though I knew the day was coming, as I had been told he didn’t want treatment any longer, beyond being comfortable.  I didn’t blame him for not wanting to suffer, I understood, even young, and even as innately angry as I’d become on my path.  It sounded like part of life, part of the disappointment of being human: your father has to go, soon, because sometimes people go.

“I love you, dad.”

“I love you, too.”

We spoke once more before the seventh of January, when he passed away in the middle of the night.  I was alone in my Henderson bedroom, lying in bed, and noticed something in the corner of my room.  I couldn’t see anything, but I knew something had arrived, and it felt comfortable, it felt warm and loving, and it was near the guitar he had given me a few years earlier.  And in the morning I was told, and I didn’t cry - it wasn’t something I understood how to do.  But I felt my identity shift, like a new layer of anger had grown inside of me since I could no longer reach my father.  The safety of his voice was no longer in my lifetime.

A few weeks later, I was in English class when a boy came in the room telling a joke about AIDS to some classmates.  He was considerably shorter than me, so I wasn’t exactly afraid of him, although I had no friends anywhere in sight on pretty much any day at Basic High School to back me up if I were involved in an altercation.  So, I went up to him and we had a little chat.

“Hey, man.  My dad recently died of AIDS, so I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell those jokes in our class.”  It was simple, it was concise, and even peaceful.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know.  Alright, I won’t anymore.”

A couple days passed and he came into class again telling another joke about AIDS.  This time I altered my approach.

He sat down at his desk and I grabbed his short blonde hair, and not gently nor particularly traumatizing, I put his head flat upon his desk.

“Maybe you didn’t understand what I said the other day.”

“But the boys in the back of the bus said you’re lying to get attention.”

I let go of his hair, some of it still between my fingers.  I felt in my heart that he wasn’t my actual problem – I mean, he was *a* problem, but he wasn’t my problem.

I got home a few hours later.  “Hey mom, I’m dropping out of school.”  She said a few things to try to convince me to stay, but concluded with, “If you drop out of school, you’re getting a job immediately.”  And those were the exact words I wanted to hear.

(to be continued one day)

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About

My Team:

Z Non-Participants
$3,221 Raised
21 Team Members

The Campaign:

2017 NorCal AIDS Cycle

WE ARE NCAC!   The NorCal AIDS Cycle is an annual four day, fully supported 300 mile cyclin

The Organization:

NorCal AIDS Cycle

The mission of the NorCal AIDS Cycle is to support the organizations throughout Northern California,...

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