December 9, 2009
Since I'm new here, and this is my first post, I guess I should introduce myself. To that end, let's get some of the basics out of the way right up front. My name's John. I'm 49 years old. I'm a lawyer by profession. I now live in beautiful San Francisco, California, after spending a long time on the east coast. I was diagnosed in 2004, so I've been positive for something like five years.
One thing I should explain at the outset is why I'm writing under a screen name. Mostly it's because I'm not out to my family about my status. See, my parents already lost one of their children, and even though you and I know HIV isn't going to kill me, I don't think that's how they'd see things if they found out. You could say I'm trying to spare their feelings. Or maybe I'm sparing mine, but that's a topic for another day.
Anyway, for now I'm fogcityjohn. And the name's appropriate in more ways than one. My first name really is John, and San Francisco is known as Fog City, so the screen name has a functional, descriptive quality. But there's more to it than that. The person I am and the life and topics I'll be writing about on this blog have come to be defined by what's happened to me since I arrived in this city. When I moved to San Francisco I did it because I wanted to start a new life. No more east coast rat race. No more billable hours. No more weekends spent at the office. It was going to be a new beginning, a fresh start. Like so many others, I dreamed of San Francisco as a place to reinvent myself, a place where I could make a new life.
And for the first few weeks after moving here, I lived that dream. As a new face at the gym, I got a fair bit of attention . . . well, at least for a guy my age. The city's green hills and ostentatiously painted Victorians made for beautiful physical surroundings. And it was so easy to be gay. Even among the relatively conservative lawyers at my new office, no one gave it a second thought. One summer afternoon in those first few weeks, I sat basking in the sunshine in front of an organic grocery on Market Street, and I looked up at the fog slowly snaking in over Twin Peaks, and I thought my dreams were finally coming true.
Then it happened. It was three weeks after my move to town. My annual HIV test came back positive. There followed the usual rounds of counseling and doctor's appointments. The initial news was pretty good. My CD4 count was 578, and my viral load only about 5,000. And as luck would have it, those numbers actually got better, and so far I haven't needed to take meds. (That's a topic I'll return to in subsequent posts.) But as anyone who's positive knows, with the diagnosis, my life has taken a decisive turn. That positive test result would be a line of demarcation in time. My life's history would henceforth be divided into the time "before" and the time "after."
So I did begin a new life. It just wasn't the one I was expecting. A little over five years ago, I entered a new world -- one in which secrecy, or at least a certain discretion, became necessary. It's a place where I feel the need to write under a nom de plume. That's how I became fogcityjohn.
So here I am, doing something I've never done before in my life. Blogging. You see, I'm actually kind of a Luddite, so writing stuff about my life and putting it up on the web for all to see seems so . . . modern and 21st century to me. I guess this will be an exercise in teaching an old dog some new tricks.
As for what you can expect to read about if you choose to visit this space again in the near future, I'll be writing about having lipodystrophy without being on meds, about being a so-called "viremic controller," about participating in research, and about what it's like to be a single, middle-aged, HIV-positive gay man. There'll be other stuff too, but those are some of the things on my mind at the moment.
So that's a bit about me. Thanks for visiting. Hope you'll stop by again. If you have comments or questions, leave them below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.