Today, I turned thirty-four. Wow. I can still remember when I was still a teen-ager and I couldn’t wait to be all grown up and now, I’m “all grown up” and I love it. I am loving it. I said, back when I turned thirty that thirty was the best age ever. I was wrong. It was a short-sighted declaration. The thirties is the best age ever — from thirty to thirty-nine. The wisdom that comes with having to say, “things were different ten years ago;” the perspective that comes with it. And the absence of rational excuses. Now, they are reasons, they are no longer excuses. If you get what I mean.
And, unfortunately, I have to bring it back to being HIV positive. Yeah, what a downer. But as much as I’d love to say that it didn’t change me or define me, unfortunately, it is the mantle I wear and has paved a way for a new life for me since I was diagnosed in 2008.
Truth of the matter, it marks a whole new renewal. Inside, I celebrate that day I was diagnosed with HIV, like it was a second birthday. That day I found out, I thought I wasn’t going to make it to Christmas. Since then, I’ve gone through five birthdays, including this one. Five birthdays. Had I known what I know now, man, how things would have been so different.
I was so desperate to get here, to be here, to be thirty-four and not realise that the journey almost killed me several times and the pitfalls and the triumphs that I’ve experienced. Would thirty-four have been as fun and as exciting had I been more safe or more sure of what I was doing? Had I not taken the route of reckless abandon, would I have become the person I am today. All this wisdom and learnings came from crossing through the gauntlet and taking every blow, skin burned from the fire, and drenched in water, tears, and piss.
That’s how it is and I’m glad for it. I’m glad I’m not some sheltered little boy. I’ve had my taste of the world and I’ve seen it. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it on my terms and not on my terms. All that goes into my education.
I never thought I’d make it this far; not after being diagnosed in 2008. But here I am. I’m still making mistakes. I’m still get lost in the woods. I’m still trying to find my way. But the greatest thing I carry with me now, that I always carry with me now, is that I love myself and I love what I’ve decided to become. At some point, this has become a choice, who I am. I’ve had thirty-four years to make this decision and it is mine. I am not a victim of life’s choosing. I have reached the age where I can choose who I am and who I want to be and I have the awareness to make it so.
There are only reasons now. No more excuses. I am accountable for who I am. I have had time to make decisions and to reap what I’ve sown and to make up for the mistakes I’ve made. That’s a whole lot better than others. Some have far surpassed me in age but still hide behind excuses and still don’t know who they are and are victim’s of life’s choosing.
I am so grateful. More than happiness, I am filled with so much gratitude. Who I am and what I am today is because of all the things I have experienced; the people who have come into my life and the people who have left it; those who loved me and those who have hurt me; those who have taught me and who have learned from me. I am a sum total of all of these people. The very fact that I’m here, typing on my laptop is due to the love and support and encouragement of so many people. I am alive because of all these magnificent and wonderful people.
More than happiness, more than joy, I am grateful. I wish I were always grateful.
Happy birthday to me. Five more?