Monday, November 30, 2009

Testing Poz

A page from my journal about the day I tested positive in 2003:

I couldn't stop my leg from jiggling up and down; I was also humming quietly to myself and rocking back and forth gently, anything to calm my frayed nerves. My breakfast of orange Gatorade and a pack of peanuts threatened to reappear shortly. God, I was nervous. How I had gotten here? Two months ago, I had everything a gay man could want:

*A handsome lover

*A condo on the beach

*A good job

*A nice car

*And the required finicky cat

Now, all of that was gone except for the cat and here I sat at the health department in Long Beach, California waiting for my test results to find out if I had "it" and you must know what I'm talking about, guys. My life had taken a major downturn when my lover of 6 years and I decided to split up for good. I had taken to heavy-duty drinking like a fish to water to just be able to cope. I wasn't myself and I did many stupid things during that period. The worse thing of all ? Waking up one night out of a stone cold blackout to find myself engaging in very risky sex with a guy I had just met at the bar hours earlier. A week later, I had come down with a terrible stomach flu with torrential night-sweats and the non-stop diarrhea for nearly a full week. So, here I sat about to shit my pants because I had to know, one way or the other, I wanted to know.

I looked around at the others; they all looked terrified and resigned to this horrible fate. You'd be surprised, the waiting-room wasn’t full of gay people (like most straight people think) and ya'll, there were lots of women, straight couples and get this, senior citizens

I was called back after a while and greeted by my HIV counselor, an aging hippie-chick named Loni Flowers (only in California). Loni was one of those mother earth types, you know, hemp clothing and enveloped in a cloud of patchouli. I liked her instantly, but the patchouli was making my head hurt. I looked around the room, the walls were covered with posters of different HIV medicines you might take and what appeared to be posters with dire warnings about HIV in Spanish. Loni urged me to sit down and slightly nudged a block of Kleenex in my direction (uhhh ohhhh, not good).

Verdict: Positive

I didn’t cry, I didn’t get angry, I just sat there numb. Loni rushed over and tried to pull me into her large breasts for a comforting hug, but I pulled back. I didn’t want a hug from a stranger. I just wanted the hell out of there. Loni did the natural things next, gave me an HIV "kit", a plain brown paper bag filled with brochures, business cards of doctors, dentists and social workers and oh yeah... something called a AIDS journal. Oh boy, that just want I needed a way to write down my thoughts until the day I kicked the bucket…WOWNeat-o !!

Just as I was getting ready to leave, Loni commented that I looked "cool" and started rummaging around in her straw tote bag. She found what she was looking for and asked if I wanted to smoke some "shit". I said sure, why the fuck not and rolled each of us a big fat hog-leg from the ziplock bag she handed me. Soon the office was filled with our acrid smoke and we were barely able to keep our laughter down as she regaled me with corny dumb blonde jokes (she was a natural blond herself). I said my good-byes sometime later and couldn't bring myself to go back through the lobby. I couldn't let those poor, unlucky bastards see the look on my face because I knew they'd be searching it for signs that I'd just gotten bad news. I spotted a fire door and with only a moment hesitation slipped through it setting off the fire alarm only to lose myself in the blinding heat of that California day so long ago.


SteveA said...

Wow - thanks for sharing.

Nik_TheGreek said...

I'm speechless
thanks for that...

Tomi Kantell said...

What is there to say?

Life's sometimes a bitch - the you try and go on with living...

Thx for sharing.

Geoff said...

You did such an amazing job with this, it's an honor to have you on the podcast Ken. You rock.

raulito said...

you just have to live with it and not make it the focus of your life..that is what I have done...;it doesn't define me...

Antony said...

Thank you for sharing.

A x