I spent a few hours on the phone talking with my friend Traci yesterday. Traci and I have been friends since high school; we even dated for a year or two—I honestly don’t remember how long we were together—and she was most gracious and open-minded when I agreed with her statement regarding one of our male classmates’ cuteness. Since 1990 we’ve always lived miles apart, months will pass without some form of contact, but when we do call each other it amazes me how it seems like we just pick up where we left off the last time we talked together.
During the course of our conversatin I told her that I was planning on getting an HIV test and she told me how she’d recently been tested, and still felt the same nervousness and axiety waiting for the results. I was relieved, because I was nervious and hadn’t even left the house yet. I was also proud of her, because Traci’s married, has two kids, and I’m sure lots of people in her shoes would wonder why anyone would dare think they should be tested for HIV.
After our talk, Lindsey stopped by The Compound to show us her and Rhonda’s wedding video. It was wonderful. It was nice to see the parts of the ceremony that I missed because of my Wedding Bitch duties. And it was just nice to see, period. For a while I stopped thinking about the mistakes I’d made in the past. I do have a past; I only rant about safe sex and getting tested because of the stupid things that I’VE done, that I don’t want other people to go through. When you’re young you always have that sense of imperviousness and invincibility, strength and youthful cockiness. Nothing bad could ever happen. Because of it, you do stupid things and only realize it later, when it’s too late. I’ve had many of those moments, and they still haunt me. They still linger. They still worry me.
Which is why I kept eyeing the places in the road where it was possible to do a U-turn as I drove to one of the sites where Montrose Clinic was offering free HIV testing last night. I’m sure many people don’t get tested because of fear. I was certainly afraid, nervous, and even embarassed. The location I went to was a men’s spa (read: bathhouse), so I had to join a queue of other men paying to enter the spa and, when it was my turn at the cashier window, I had to say, in front of everyone, “Hi. Is there someone here offering HIV testing tonight?”
The test itself was quick. Painless. Easy. It was the first time I had a rapid oral test done. The first time I didn’t have to sweat and worry for five days while waiting for results. That in itself is worth the trip. They say that knowledge is power, and in this case, I certainly agree.