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Excerpt No. 4 (BONUS)
from "For What I Hate I Do."

On a quiet Saturday in December, I felt the world riding on my shoulders. I was looking for strength to express my dilemma to my mother, who was sitting at the kitchen table.

We started out with the usual: How was your day going? Is the job working out? Are you seeing anyone? Are you staying clean and sober?

“Yes, mom. I’m OK,” I said. But she still sensed something was awry.

“What’s wrong? You didn’t relapse did you, Miguel?”

“No, momma. I didn’t.” That was the truth.

“So, why aren’t you eating? Why the loss of appetite.”

“It’s nerves.” I, of course, lied this time.

“Is it that bad?” she asked, grabbing my right hand to comfort me.

“It could be.”

“So, what is it?” She was getting tired of the guessing game.
I took a deep breath.

“You remember when I was admitted to Spring Shadows Glen Recovery Center months back?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, they took all sorts of tests like psychoanalysis, IQ and general physicals. Some years ago, I knew a guy who was diagnosed with HIV, which can cause AIDS. The reason I know this is because he was my roommate, and we shared some personal things with each other. But anyway, he was wondering how he was going to break the news to his parents. So I suggested that he should wait awhile until he was positively sure about his lab results.”

“So, what happened?” she asked with a puzzled look.

“Well, his test was positive. I was scared for him because of misconceptions about the disease, the ignorance out there, the fear that some people have concerning the virus,” I said, not looking her in the eyes.

“So, why are you telling me this? I don’t understand,” she said, obviously frightened. “What’s wrong, honey? Can you answer me?”

“I don’t know when I got it. It was months ago when I was diagnosed.

This disease can lie dormant for years before it even reveals any symptoms or damage to the immune system,” I said.

She was silent for a while and then had questions I didn’t want to answer.

“Are you taking medicine?”

“No.”
“Why not, Miguel?” she asked in a panicked state.

“Because I’m not feeling sick or anything,” I said, realizing my ignorance.

“So, you’re gonna wait until you start feeling sick to start taking medicine? What’s wrong with you? Are you trying to kill yourself?” she asked angrily through her tears. “I don’t mean to pry, but I have to ask you this. I’ve noticed in the past that you spend a lot of time with men, Miguel. Are you gay? You can tell me. Are you?”

“I’m not gonna lie to you. I’ve been experimenting,” I said, feeling uncomfortable answering the question.

“But why? You are such a handsome man. Any woman would love to be with you. Why men, Miguel? I don’t understand. What is wrong with you?” she asked.

“I like women, too, momma. Sometimes my hormones just go crazy, and I can’t resist the feeling.”

“I don’t understand, baby. I think you’re just confused. That’s all. I didn’t raise any of my sons to believe that way. How did this happen?”

“It just did, momma. I didn’t plan this behavior. I knew about these feelings for a long time. I just suppressed them so I could try to live normal. I’m tired of lying to myself. Maybe I’m suffering from neurosis or something.”

“Nonsense. None of my children are neurotic. Stubborn maybe. So, don’t talk like that ever again.”

“Yes ma’am.”

We then stood and embraced. I needed a hug like there was no tomorrow – a motherly hug.

“Get tested again,” she whispered softly. “I love you.”

She then walked off toward her bedroom, probably to pray and to soak in what she had just learned about me.

 
 

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