One day, as I do every couple of months (and all of you should too), I went to my doctor to get a full STD test.
On the Friday before a three-day weekend, I got a call while I was at work, and checked my voicemail during my lunch break.
“Hey Ian-Michael, it’s Dr. Kathy. So, listen, you tested positive for chlamydia. I normally wouldn’t leave a
voicemail for this, but it’s really no big deal – just fill this prescription, take it over the weekend, and don’t drink or have sex for the next few weeks. I wanted to tell you now so you can fill the prescription now instead of waiting until Tuesday. Call my office if you have any questions.”
Mortified, I filled the prescription and took the pill. I’d never had an STD before, and I didn’t even have symptoms.
Afterward, I walked aimlessly through Chelsea, thoughts running wild. Who did I get this from? If I’m honest, the list of suspects wasn’t short. And what if it had been something else? I use condoms most of the time, but I’ve slipped up. What if a single one-night stand led to a lifetime disease?
I started to panic, reliving each of my sexual encounters from the past few months in my head.
When I got on the A train, I didn’t go home: I got off at 125th Street and walked to A’s apartment. By then it was dark. I had no idea if he was home, or awake; I just knew I needed him.
As I approached his building, I looked into his window, first floor facing the street. There was his outline, moving behind thin curtains. He was home. I buzzed apartment 1A, head still spinning, soul still searching.
He answered the door, and I fell into his arms, crying, overwhelmed. When I calmed down, we sat on his bed, and I told him about the STD and my subsequent fear spiral. He listened intently, and when I ran out of things to say, he gently rubbed my back.
“But you’re negative on everything else,” he reminded me. “You’re going to be fine.”
He was there for me when I needed him. He always was, whether I needed to meet him for drinks to bitch about work, lay in his bed and talk about boys or just watch the newest episode of “Downton Abbey” (may that show rest in peace).
I thought about telling him I loved him that night. Not in the friendly way, but in the real way, the I-can’t-live-without-you way. But the timing wasn’t right (“Hi, I just found out I have an STD, and also I’ve been in love with you since we met, wanna watch TV?”), and by morning I pushed those thoughts down again.
I didn’t want to risk losing him as a friend.