The other Friday evening I was invited by one of my co-workers to her nephew's birthday party. She lives pretty far away, so we took the bus she takes home from work and then stopped at all of her cousins' homes in the community. Finally we made it back to her home. What a little little home. It was so empty, no furniture, only 2 beds and a closet full of clothes from her cousin who is currently "hanging out in the US." As we were chatting, Lesly* my co-worker handed me a little booklet. It was a photo album.
I don't know if any of you know, but I'm a secret photo album lover. Love looking at pictures, love making photo albums (in all my free time which I never have, ha), I just love it. Because it teaches me so much about people, lets me enter their lives, see a part of their life that may have been so wonderful or so painful. And showing your pictures can be something so vulnerable. Sometimes there's a picture that you don't want anyone to see. Sometimes there's someone in a picture you may want to forget...or someone you'll never forget. But sharing photographs is allowing someone to know your past and how that's led you to who you are today.
Anyhow, Lesly handed my this small photo album and I began to look at her life, her primos, her first boyfriend, her son. Page by page, I learned something new about her...the father of her son was in the army, a young strong gentleman who she fell in love with. He died of AIDS 5 years ago. Currently, she lives alone with her 16-year-old son in the small house, surviving, she says. The next picture was of a nice-looking Honduran man, her current love, who calls her and tells her the most beautiful things, so she told me with a blushing squint of her eyes and beaming smile. In the midst of everything, Johanna, she confessed, it's nice to hear those things. It's nice to have someone like that in your life even if you will never actually be with them...even if it's just an illusion. Some of us women here in my situation, well, it's how we survive...it's how we keep moving one day to the next. Sobrevivir por ilusiones.
Sobrevivir por ilusiones. That has now become our new favorite phrase...and it's made me really think about the situation of the HIV-infected single woman. It's hard enough to find a good-standing Honduran man, and when you do and you fall in love, are you able to disclose your infection without sending him running? How do you tell him? DO you tell him? Or...do you just try to keep your distance from him....try to keep you and him from getting hurt? Does that mean you love him from a distance, longing for him? Live as if you were together and everything was perfect? Live, survive, through those dreams, illusiones? Perhaps. Maybe it's those illusions that we can't quite grab hold of that are the dreams that keep us living for the next day hoping that those illusions will one day become realities and that we might just obtain that happiness we long for...
Thinking and analyzing and putting myself in their place, I came to realize that, yes, being in their situation is more difficult and there are definite barriers to relationships for the HIV-positive single woman....but you know what, we have a lot of similarities. I have a lot of similiarities. Sometimes I live and survive for those illusiones to get us through to the next day. Perhaps I and you, too, sobrevivimos por ilusiones. And maybe that's not so bad...helps to liven things up a bit in the middle of the melancholy or simply the middle of the mundane.