The day after Philip fell under my stalker spell and agreed to go out on a date with me, I left for my sister’s double wide trailer in south central Pennsylvania to spend the Thanksgiving holiday. This area of Pennsylvania is often referred to as Pensyltucky. I don’t know how it happened but somewhere between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh you arrive in the deep south.
I knew that this Thanksgiving would be a little more strained.
My sister and I have always had a tenuous relationship. This started when we were kids. To antagonize me, she would chase me around the house with bottles of ketchup and mustard. I had an unnatural fear of condiments. Mustard was the worst. The smell would stay on my hands for days. If I made the dreaded mistake of touching said mustard bottle, I would scrub my hands so ferociously, feeling like Lady Macbeth, “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!” And the smell still remained. (I shiver now just thinking about it!)
I never told my sister about my HIV status. Frankly, I didn’t think she could handle it or understand what it means to be positive now. Her only reference would be what from media and that is usually dying AIDS patients. But the main reason why I didn’t want to tell her is that she has the uncanny ability to make every situation about her. Somehow me being HIV positive would be another burden, in a long line of burdens, that she would have to endure. It wouldn’t be about me anymore, it would be about her. I decided to keep it to myself.
Last summer, I was completely shocked when my sister wanted to come to NYC to visit me. She never came to visited me while I was living in Philadelphia. She had never even been to a city before. I was more shocked at her ease on the subway, on the streets and well, her ease at everything. Overall I believe she had a great time and so did I. This is not typical. Unbeknownst to me, during the visit, she went through my medicine cabinet, found the medication I am taking (Atripla), wrote down the name, and did research on me when she got back home. I was livid. I am still livid. After weeks of fighting, she still maintained that she did nothing wrong. She made the entire fight about how I hid things from her, not about how she invaded my privacy. I couldn’t fight about it anymore, god she is so stubborn (I hate to admit this, but we share this trait). Besides, she is the only family I have left that I speak to.
I swallowed my anger and embarked on my journey to the deep south, via Pennsylvania.
As soon as I walked into the door I said hi and smiled at my sister, that was all she was getting. AHHH! I was promptly saddled and ridden. I was attacked by my niece and my nephew and we played horsey, you sickos. We built up train tracks, I colored with my niece and wrestled until I could wrestle no more. I loved every minute of it. My nephew grabs onto my bicep “Wow, you’re muscles are so big!” Now, I dream of the day when a cute boy says that to me, not my 4 year old nephew, gross!
Right before Thanksgiving dinner, my 6 year old niece stops dead in her tracks and says “I have to go get my heels on.” She then comes out of her room with her black patent leather Mary Janes. Her heels on? I was beaming, I was so proud.
For a treat, after dinner, we all went deer-spotting. For those of you city folk who aren’t accustomed to country life, deer-spotting is exactly what it sounds like. People drive around with a spot light and look for deer. Very exciting.
My favorite activity over this particular Thanksgiving was spending endless hours messaging Philip (I love my facebook app). We talked about our families, the performantive arts, and we flirted. It was like we were on our first date, but instead of being in a trendy bar sipping martinis, I was in a double wide trailer under a taxidermied 12 point buck head. As an added bonus, this act of messaging aided me in avoiding my sister. I didn’t want to have the “HIV/AIDS” talk with her. I know this makes me sound a little vindictive, but I was still mad and I felt that because of the way she found out, she did not deserve that from me. At least not yet anyway.