I grew up in a world most people will never see.
My childhood was one where I knew about chest tubes, how to use syringes, running jokes about biohazard signs. I learned what sex was at the same time that I learned what death was. I wore plastic gloves more often than any child did in my grade level.
My father had AIDS. He died in December of 1993.
I usually do a heartfelt post about how I miss him, and about what the experience was like to live with it. But today I’m turning the tables. I’m making this a Q&A. You – the readers, ask the questions. I, the writer, will answer them. The only thing I ask is that you keep it respectful – even 19 years later, there are scars on my heart that are still raw. But I miss teaching, and I miss carrying on my father’s legacy – he took me with him when he taught AIDS prevention classes, and I have done that work since then.
Today I am a (mostly) open book. Ask away, I’ll take questions until end of day Saturday.
UPDATE: I’ll be adding stories as I think of them. Continue asking questions – since people have been shy, I’ll extend the deadline on queries – because this is seriously about answering YOUR questions. Here’s a short anecdote from the annals of my AIDS infected childhood:
“FUCK AIDS” I said. I think I was around seven years old, I may have been younger, I may have been older. I can’t remember the exact context, but I know I was angry about my father being sick. My mother had explained swear words to me in the recent past, and she had told me that they were adult and angry words, and that I could only use them in the appropriate context. So I did. I remember this: I didn’t get punished, because I’d used the right word, in the right context.