I always thought that it would all happen very differently. I guess I based myself on cheesy movie scenarios or things i’ve seen here and there on t.v.
I never expected it to happen the way it did. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe a cordial handshake between the two or maybe a moment where EJ congratulates me and wishes me the best. But the reality of it is break-up’s usually don’t end that way. Diplomacy is out the window and the worse in people seems to surface.
Monday I had received more of EJ’s mail and decided it was time he knew that I was still receiving his things and no longer cared to. He promised to change his address and come pick up his mail as soon as it was possible. The week followed and he made no effort or showed any concerned for his things until Friday night when a received a text message that he would stop by the next day for his mail.
I was picking up Peter from his house- we had plan on spending the whole weekend together before I left Tuesday for my next doctor’s appointment. It was no big deal really, I had no intention on them bumping into each other or even meeting. Total and complete opposite.
The thought of EJ meeting Peter let alone finding out that I had started a new relationship terrified me to no end. Judging from recent actions and hidden secrets that t had surfaced after our break up all I could think about him was nothing but negative.I barely recognize the man that once use to fill my heart with warmth and safety with this new man that only seemed to generate fear and uncertainty to my soul.
Saturday morning was great. I laid in bed cuddled under Peter’s arms and let him introduce me to videos that he thought I would like. Being with him was simple. Easy.We spent the rest of the day together, his arm wrapped around me, my leg on top of his switching positions and stopping to re-introduce our lips to each other. It was perfect. It was what I craved for so long and now it was wrapped around me like a beautiful script of tattoos. I had never felt so right.
By nightfall we decided it was time to get up, get something to eat, shower and meet some friends up for some drinks.We decided picking up a pizza would be easiest since we had to meet up with everyone by nine and it was already past seven. The timing was wrong. The idea was wrong. As we pulled up to my driveway and put the car on park a green suburban parked behind us. My heart sank as Peter who had gotten off the car first turned and asked: “Who is that?” I could feel fear again, like that day back in the hospital after my diagnosis, creep itself on my body like a rude awakening waiting to destroy. “EJ” I responded softly trying to calm him down but in reality I was trying to calm myself down. He didn’t say much just turned and headed towards the front door. I guess because he knew that this was bound to happen but I did sense that it was not the best scenario in his plans.
I ran behind Peter trying to reach the mail fast enough to end the awkward situation before it became an actual situation. I went back out half hoping he had mistaken Peter for someone else- possibly my dad?
“This is what came in for you.” I said as he rolled down his window and took the envelopes from my hand. He didn’t respond initially instead he looked past me as if I wasn’t even there.
“Who was that?” he finally blurred out his chin motioning to the front door.
“Who?” I replied stupidly trying to buy some time so I could somehow come up with an excuse. He knew what I was doing and gave me a look that told me he knew the answer that I so feared and didn’t want to say outloud.
“Is that your boyfriend?”
I hesitated and my brain could not work fast enough for a clever story so I simply gave him a nod. He shook his head in reply as if he too could not find the words to such situation. “Okay, well there’s your mail…”
By nine we were dressed and meeting my friends up at a local bar. I told them what had happened and they all thought it was great. So much that they cheered at the thought of EJ finally seeing me not only with someone new but with Peter of all people, the one guy he tried to seduced while still with me. I wasn’t as thrilled in fact they were missing my point. I was full of fear. Fear that now that he knew I was no longer single and the rage that seemed to perspiration from his body would come back to me in the most negative way. I feared the truth. The unspeakable truth between Peter and I that I had no intention on telling anytime soon but that EJ knew. The sick truth of my past and the consequences before me. That’s why I hesitated. That’s why I’m scared of him. I should have never told him but it was my moral duty to inform him so he could also be safe and now my good deed was turning into my own torment. “Why did you hesitate?” one of my friends asked. I paused, drink halfway to my lips. I shrugged, unsure of the response they were all looking for from me.
Back home as we got ready for bed, pulling the covers and adjusting the pillows when I noticed something was wrong. “Why did you hesitate?” Peter asked. I gulped sure that there was no way around the question. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, your friends are right. Why did you hesitate? Why not just tell him that yes you are with me?” I could tell there was a deeper emotion hidden behind his words and I knew then that the casual encounter had finally hit its purpose. “I don’t know. I guess because it took me by surprise.” I tried to avoid his look knowing very well that if I saw him he would notice the lie in me. Not satisfied with my response he just nodded and I knew that it was not enough. So I said, “ I guess because I don’t want any drama.”
“Why do you need to keep him happy?” he asked irritated at my responses. I wanted to tell him the truth, the sick truth of why he had power over me. I wanted to believe that he would understand and that he would stay even after he knew it all but I knew that this could destroy the little relationship we had just begun. I knew that at some point in time I would be faced with the idea of him knowing my status but I didn’t expect it to be so soon and so sudden. Not this way.
We began to raise our voices, began to argue and put up walls and barriers around us that made it difficult for us to see eye to eye. So much so that he decided to pack the clothes he had brought for the weekend and end our time together sooner than anticipated. The thought of him leaving, questioning me and not giving me the chance to explain the reasons behind my actions drove me insane. I clinged to him as he packed his things and began to feel as if the little world we had just began to build was now crumbling down.
I don’t know if it was the alcohol or if it was fear- maybe a combination of both- but before he could take another step I found the words that made him drop his bag on the floor and listen.
“I don’t have cancer” I began to explain. “ I mean I do… but there is a reason why I have cancer.”
“ What do you mean?”
“I don’t only have cancer but something else too…” I could feel the words on the tip of my tongue. I could taste a bitter sour flavor that made it difficult to swallow and that made me panic cry. I sobbed uncontrollably and braced myself for the sick truth to kill the future I had hoped would be mine this year.
I think he sensed that whatever had me in such a state was far more serious than he had expected and he tried to calm me down so I could speak. “It’s okay German. What is it?”
I paused. Held my breath. Felt my heart thumped against my chest and closed my eyes as the words spilled from my lips.
“I have HIV. I’m HIV positive.”
The air around us stood still. Heavy. Almost like a thick fog that had settled around the room and made my lungs work harder to survive. I waited for him to pull his hand from underneath mine, push me to the side and grab his bag and run for the door. But he didn’t. He stayed. He held me. He wrapped his warm arms around me and the fog around us exploded into oblivion. I could breathe again and I tried to catch my breath as he tried to comfort my broken soul.
“I am not leaving German, I am not going anywhere…”
When the tears stopped and the air was easy around us to breathe I began to explain to him everything that had happened before his arrival. I didn’t tell him everything. It would take hours and hours to explain but I told him the major points of my journey that led me to where I am today. He listened carefully. He didn’t say much. He held me and kissed my forehead. He pulled the covers and pulled me closer to him.
I woke up before him the next day.
I laid still wrapped around his body and his irregular heartbeat loudly on my ear. I stared at him as he slept wondering if what he had said the night before was true or if it was just some polite way of dealing with such a situation.
I didn’t want to question him but the questions in me were still there circling around my brain like an endless wave that drowned my sanity and couldn’t let me sleep.
“Are you sure you want to be in this roller coaster of a life with–”
“I told you. I’m not going anywhere.”
I asked as soon as his eyes opened. I need an assurance. I needed to hear it again because it is hard to believe (at least for me) that he would stay even after the truth surfaced. I guess my insecurities take over but can you blame me?
He pulled me closer to his body. His skin warm and comforting. I took a deep breath and tried to let all fear go. He knows and that is all that matters. He knows the sick truth and nothing anyone else says or does to me will matter because the one person who’s reaction I cared about the most is now part of the journey that is my life. My life with this disease full of germs and that makes me stronger.