My last column was about relationships, and after a tirade on the inevitability of loneliness and the exhausting search for love and companionship, it ended with 'just doing my best.'
Looking back, I don't know where those weak, passive, self-effacing last four words came from. 'Just doing my best'? What kind of wimp says something like that when discussing the most important thing in the universe'love? What kind of self-respecting person doesn't have the courage to take some responsibility for the trajectory of a failed relationship? If those words came from me, I must have been more heartbroken than I realized, more emotionally shattered than I thought possible.
But the truth is that I'm one badass survivor. And 'just doing my best' isn't in my recondite vocabulary. When it comes to love, relationships, sex, and the complex interaction of souls on an intimate level, I get the job done. Subtlety and self-abasement are not my strong suits. Anyone I date is lucky to have me in his life, regardless of my HIV status.
That personal cheerleading is my armor, my technique, and the way I get through that first coffee date with a stranger. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'I am the great and powerful Oz!
I've been HIV-positive for 10 years now. I started dating six years before that, and the one thing I've learned over the years is to show no fear. Yes, I'm insecure about my looks. Yes, I'm terrified of being rejected. And yes, on some level I understand that my status is an added factor that could quickly change the rules of the game. But if I see my status as a detriment, others will too.
Dating is about bringing the best of you to the table'showcasing your charm, your wit, and that great new shirt that brings out the color of your eyes. It's about laughing at his jokes, telling her your secrets, and waiting for the perfect moment to risk that first kiss'it's about seeing the good, finding the beauty, and offering your little piece of magic.
HIV doesn't lessen the possibility of finding someone miraculous'this is how I choose to believe. And this is how I choose to walk into a room'as if I have never known heartbreak and no one has ever told me no.
I'm single again. I'm back to searching through a myriad of strangers for that precious and rare thing called love. And I'm scared to death! But I am also beautiful and amazing and brilliant'and as far as they know, I'm the best thing that hasn't yet happened to them.
Saucier is a writer, blogger, and performance artist based in Los Angeles. Find more of his work on HIVPlusMag.com.