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By River Huston

August 3, 2012

It is the middle of summer in the Caribbean. The cruise ships have slowed down. Everything has slowed down. I have slowed down. For the first time in my life I have taken whole days, even multiple days off to do absolutely nothing. The contest is officially over. I know I will still die in this lifetime but I have lost the urgency I felt for years (28) living with HIV and Idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (an acute bleeding disorder).

In the race to get things done before HIV did me in, I wrote books, painted paintings and performed all over the world. I accumulated things, was married and often not in the moment. My life had become so hectic and busy I just did not always have the ability to stop it. In December of 2010 I got off the merry-go-round and moved to an island. Slowly over this past eighteen months I gave up everything I owned or was attached to. Last week were the last pieces to go: my house and car in Pennsylvania.

My life has become quiet without TV, radio, newspapers and very little Internet. My social life can be more defined as service and trying to be helpful than dinner parties and movies. I find small talk painful. I am still surprised when people flirt with me. I find it disingenuous. I don't know if I am cynical or just at a point in life where I want to get to the point.

I had sex with someone recently and it was the first man I had been with in twelve years other than my husband. It was insane, hot, wild, messy sex for hours on end. It was good to know everything works but when the person wanted to hang out, eat, and cuddle, I looked at him like he was an alien. I loved the sex but if I have to pay the price by listening to bullshit, I would rather just pay you to go away. I then realized that sex, as pleasurable and fabulous as it can be, is a passing pleasure. For an addictive personality such as myself it could lead to trouble. I noticed this right away.

After this sexual escapade I put up a POZ personal ad that said I want sex, oral sex in particular, no strings attached, best if you do not speak English, large equipment appreciated. I got no takers. It seemed everyone was looking for their soul mate, the love of their life, the one. Not interested, even a little. Maybe that will change but somehow I don't think so. I am working through my issues about love and relationships. I don't need anyone to make me whole, to be my partner, to be whatever. I am done with any possibility of procreation so what is the purpose.

I have a double-headed vibrator and that keeps my vaginal walls in shape as I sail through menopause. And it's probably better for me mentally than compulsively checking to see if I got any takers from my sex ad. Maybe there will be some more big passion in my life but if not, that's okay.

I know the International Conference on HIV/AIDS was going on in Washington, D.C. I have absolutely no interest, or guilt for having no interest. I have spoken at seven international conferences and hundreds of smaller conferences. I feel I have done all I can do. If someone wants me to come present or entertain I certainly will but otherwise if there is anything earth shattering I am sure someone will let me know.

I am down to the essentials -- laptop, meds, cell phone, iPad, and backpack. I am living for free in a falling apart villa on the ocean with a crazy cast of characters for neighbors and people who pass through the warehouse where I paint. I plan to make art till I am out of canvas and paint, then wander the planet. The road keeps getting narrower; I am not bored, depressed, sad, angry, happy, ecstatic, indifferent, ambivalent or apathetic. I just am, an accidental Buddhist, if you will.

Each morning I ask the powers that be how can I be helpful? I rescued a stray dog from the dumpster and got him fixed and a loving home, that was my job this week. It seems to be working out.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS


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A River Runs Through It

River Huston

River Huston

River Huston is an award-winning poet, journalist, performer and activist. She travels through the United States speaking on issues related to sexuality, communication, overcoming challenges and change. She has been featured on Good Morning America, Showtime, Nightline, CNN and ABC Up To The Minute. River has written three books of poetry as well as The Goddess: A Guide to Feminine Wisdom and A Positive Life: Portraits of Women Living With HIV. She wrote and performed a one-woman show, Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment: One Girls Guide to Living and Dying off off Broadway and is currently working on a second show, The Dominatrix Next Door. For more information about River you can go to

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Articles by River:

Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment: One Girl's Guide to Living and Dying (October 15, 2008)

I Feel Good! Attaining Survival Through Illness (March/April 2008)

Goddess in a Muumuu: AIDS Changes Sexual Self-Image (December 1999)

A Positive Life: Portraits of Women Living With HIV (October 1999)

Interviews With River:

White Women and HIV (April 1999)

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The opinions expressed by's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of itself.