"Did you know they test for HIV when you are pregnant?" Our neighborhood girlfriend asked last night.
Without hesitation my husband and I said, "Yeah, that's how we knew I had it."
We have had these friends since back to school night in August at our son's elementary school (our sons are in the same class). Her husband was in an L.A. Dodgers hat, and mine in his Padres. We realized that night we were moving into a house a block away from the home they had just moved into.
All of us grew up in Southern California, and were now living in Ft. Worth, Texas and our sons had no friends in the state. We became instant friends, swimming in their pool on hot nights, barbecuing, pizza parties, warm summer night tree climbing in our backyard, play dates, you name it. We immediately felt at home with them and the topic of my HIV naturally never seemed to come up.
Last week, in fact, I had been working on a blog about how this couple were the only people we hang out with in Texas, who don't know. I always assume people investigate friends on Facebook where the About section clearly it says I'm a blogger for an HIV website. They never mentioned it, so neither did I.
We now have "couple" friends who have children; life is so much nicer with friends. I had forgotten how important friends were, for real. People you see and talk to face to face are great! Living in another random place with my chef husband, Keanen, who works at a movie theater has its ups and downs. He works nights and weekends, so Myles and I are alone most days after school and weekends.
I am so thankful for the friends who cosmically entered our lives when we moved here. We moved to house number two here in August. It's a nicer neighborhood only four miles from Keanen's work, Myles' school is less than a mile. If it's ever NOT boiling or freezing, we might walk home from school one of these afternoons.
Along with NEW friends comes the opportunity to spread HIV awareness educating others. Something I have done effortlessly for years. Choosing who you do that to can be tricky, most of our friends are from my husband's job.
My husband's boss' wife has become my Texas bestie. Her son is Myles' age; we see them weekly if not more. All his work people KNOW, so when I meet them, the questions begin weirdly as the icebreaker of the relationship. She is a preschool teacher, so she has had HIPAA training; she asked a few questions, and we moved on from the topic.
So far, I'm impressed with people not freaking out, and not never hearing from them again.
It's NOT that I was hiding it from our neighbors, I didn't think they would stop having play dates, hanging out, or having dinners together. I did not believe they would tell the school or teacher or anything wacky like that.
Needless to say, here we were, it was Keanen's birthday. We had them over for dinner and BAM right in the middle of pineapple birthday cake the truth was out there, like a naked elephant in the room. It got awkward for a second, then Keanen and I began the story we were so used to telling, not even noticing two five-year-olds eating cake by camping lantern light in our dining room as we chatted about my random deadly STD. That's how normal HIV has become to us.
Most poz people don't think about telling people in their lives vs. not. I assume the only "told people" are close friends, family and potential sexual partners. I, on the other hand, have NO shame. I tell people all sorts of things. I am a Padres fan, a Seahawks fan, I am HIV positive, I am Jewish-ish although we do have a Christmas tree.
My son knows all but one of these things. One day he will know the other.