AIDS Hasn’t Gone Away

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New Youth Connections, New York

After my first boyfriend and I broke up, it tore me up inside. When I learned that he had a new boyfriend just four months later, I knew I had to get over him and make a new beginning with someone else, too.

What I ended up with was a situation I never thought I would have to go through. While browsing through my friend’s MySpace page one day, I found the page of a cute boy I had seen around but never spoken to.

I sent him a friend request and … to my surprise, he accepted. We began to write messages to each other.

Ray (not his real name) was 20, two years older than me, and he was the nicest guy I had met since my ex. We talked about our dreams, goals, life experiences, and past relationships. Soon, we were talking on the phone every night, sometimes until the sun came up. I began to have strong feelings for him.

One night, I decided to pick Ray up from work. We had seen each other before, but this was the first time it was just the two of us. We talked and held hands like a couple. When he asked me if I wanted to come to his house, I said yes without hesitation.

At his house, where he lived with some roommates, we took off our clothes and lay in his bed. He massaged my back and we talked a little, but the conversation got interrupted when Ray gave me a kiss on the lips. I was scared, unsure if I was ready to move on to the next guy just yet. But I dismissed my doubts when I looked into Ray’s eyes

The next morning, Ray made me breakfast in bed, he ironed my clothes for me and walked me to the train. I felt so special. Then, as the train was approaching the station, Ray suddenly said, “I think that you should live your life and do you.” He basically meant that I should find someone else to be with. I was confused and hurt.

I didn’t hear from Ray for an entire week. Finally, my mother told me that Ray had called. I dialed his number, happy, but at the same time scared.

When he answered the phone, he sounded depressed, and he said he had to tell me something very important.

“You are so special to me and I don’t ever want to see you hurt again,” he said, “but you and I are two different types of people.”

After about a minute of total silence, I asked, “What do you mean, we’re two different types of people?”

He just said that he needed some time to think and he would call me later.

A few days later, I called Ray and asked him again what he had meant.

“Disease,” was the only word that came out of his mouth.

Ray said he was on his lunch break in public and he didn’t want to say it out loud. He told me to name some diseases and when I named the right one he would say yes. I remembered Ray telling me about all the wild sexual things he’d done with guys in the past, and I began to name all of the STDs I could think of.

Finally I said, “AIDS.” I took a deep breath and waited for his answer.

“Not AIDS, but the stage that comes before it,” Ray said.

I was shocked and hurt, but I also felt sympathetic toward Ray. I didn’t know what to say to him. All I could do was cry and think of how grateful I was to not be in his position. “Don’t worry, I’m going to be here for you,” was all I managed to say.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I had strong feelings for Ray, and the last thing I wanted was to leave him right when he needed me. We agreed to continue getting to know each other, with the possibility of a relationship later.

But as the weeks passed, Ray started to distance himself from me.

I still have feelings for Ray, but I’ve decided to just be his friend. I’ve never told Ray my decision, and he hasn’t asked. We just talk to each other as friends now.