Wow. As I’ve said, today is the 16th anniversary of having been diagnosed with HIV. From my calculations I was infected in late 1990 or ‘91, so that would make me basically a 20 year survivor.
For some time now, I’ve been wanting a partner. Late last year I started talking with a guy online who lives far, far away. That tends to be the pattern since I live in a bit of a wasteland. There are some guys around these parts, but they are often already partnered, married (to a woman) or “not my type” which tends to be masculine to hyper-masculine, yet emotionally available and overtly passionate. Doesn’t hurt if they’ve got some muscle and the jeans and t-shirts fit a bit on the tight side…. Anyway, this gentleman and I finally met in March and I certainly felt a chemical reaction, but I felt that he didn’t. After our joint vacation was over I did my best to continue the communications and explore more avenues of connection. I felt I was getting a bit of a cold shoulder. Emails from me would go unanswered or I’d receive laconic and even terse responses. I’d try to Skype him and, if he responded at all it would be, again, terse and even annoyed.
Yesterday I sent him another email and lo and behold I got an email back this morning. He said he was surprised that I had emailed him since I had not written in quite a while. It seemed a bit passive aggressive to me, but now, as I sit writing, I am trying to figure if I have in some way precipitated this. It’s hard for me to tell.
All that being said, I know that my HIV status was a stumbling block for him. In all my searching and yearning, I have been open to relationships with both poz and neg guys, but now I am wondering if the +/- mix is just to volatile. But I’m not sure that was the main issue for him. I’m trying to get up the nerve to write back. I keep obsessing about it, too.
So, I take my own advice and I will love him, even if he doesn’t love me back. And, in a moment of spirituality or religiosity I pray. I pray that he is happy, that he at least likes me and I pray that someday, soon, I’ll find that man who is looking for me. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to be happy, to have dreams and to live a good life.
On May 17, 1995 I was told I was HIV+. It was mentioned by my doctor that others with similar “numbers” could expect to survive about 90 weeks. I am still alive. I feel good. I still have dreams. Back then, it didn’t make sense to have such aspirations. Now, it does. Treatments are getting better. They aren’t perfect, there is no cure or vaccine, but maybe someday. For now, dream big. Be happy. Do what you love. Don’t let anyone bully you. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. Remember that the sky is always perfect. Take pictures of odd things and post them on websites. Love someone unexpectedly. If they don’t love you back, love them anyway. Why? Because you can. If someone tells you that you can’t, tell them that I said that they are wrong. This comes from a guy who was supposed to die 14 years ago.
I love you.
Okay. So, tomorrow will be the 16th anniversary of receiving my diagnosis of HIV+. Wow. It was only a few months later that the doctor told me in a round about way that I would probably live for another two years or so at most. And here I am.
In many ways I think I survived because I didn’t know better. Sure, I knew that it was bad, but I also knew that I didn’t want to cop to the idea that something had the best of me. I pulled myself together, took charge of my life and proceeded to get as healthy as I could. I survived long enough for the medications to get better. Then, I survived the medications. Now, for the most part, I deal with some fatigue and displaced fat. All the more reason to spend as much time in the gym as possible.
Because I decided to fight, I knew I had to get a good job. No more low paying career-less time robbers for me. I wanted to do something. So, I got a job selling computers. From there, I got a job at a hospital supporting computers, and from there I became a system support analyst and spent 11 years being the best damn Help Desk guy I could be. The money wasn’t great, but better than slinging burgers, and there seemed to be a future in it. Then, the entire IT department was outsourced.
Not willing to fire me, I got transferred to the Human Resources department where for about 9 months I scanned documents and sorted files. The money ran out for that position so I was left with a choice: take a job that I was frighteningly over qualified for, a job that I would be forced out of within a few months because the department would have to pay me what I had been making as a computer tech, or convince someone in HR to offer me a severance package.
They wouldn’t call it “severance” because that might indicate that they had actually gotten rid of me. No, they called it “Transition Assistance.” It was a paltry sum of money that would help me transition to a new job someplace else. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any other jobs.
So, on the eve of the anniversary of my diagnosis, I decide to return to my roots as an artist and start a design company and sell t-shirts and coffee mugs.
A few months back I posted on my Facebook account an photo of a painting I had done in the ’80s called “Devil in a Gray Suit.” I actually got comments saying that it would make a great t-shirt. Then there was the picture of an eye, then…well, the list goes on. I realized that I had tons of ideas, all sorts of styles of work, pithy sayings and a love of both t-shirts and coffee. That’s it! Follow your bliss!
The process is slow, but it’s getting better. I’ve sold two shirts and a coffee mug so far. I know that it’s kinda cheeky for me to use Tumblr as a platform for advertising, but the images are cool - at least I think they are - and maybe I’ll get some feedback from my 16 or so followers!
I am also giving guitar lessons, managing my mom’s rental properties and picking lost change off the ground around parking meters.
I love you guys. Now, buy a t-shirt!