Chris Ondaatje (CO) and Cristina Peña (CP)
CO: I remember sitting on your living room floor, and I could tell something was wrong. You started out telling me your dad had passed away of AIDS, and I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s the big secret.” But then you kept going. And, you said your mom was HIV positive. And then you told me that you were born HIV positive.
CP: I remember saying to you “I’m okay if you don’t want to keep dating me. And, you could have reacted any way. You could have gotten up. You could have called me horrible names. You could have ran out. But you said, “Babe, I’ll pick you up for a date tomorrow.” You gave me a big squeeze, and, that meant so much to me.
CO: We really learned how to communicate with each other, very well.
CO: And, it’s definitely forced us into having to grow up faster than we probably would have otherwise. I struggled with telling my parents about it. And, my dad, he was pretty upset. He tried to talk me out of dating you.
CP: I remember I’d walk into your house and he’d get up and leave, without saying anything to me. And, that was the first time I had ever realized that I was actually a threat to someone.
CO: I said, “Look, here’s this piece of paper. I get tested every six months. We’re safe. I love this girl. I want to be with her.” And, all I wanted was acceptance. It was a few years of being really distant with my mom and my dad, and really only in the last five or six years have we started to mend those issues. And we have a great relationship now. Their biggest concern is when you and I are going to get married and start having grandkids for them.
CP: You know, when I found out I was HIV positive at nine, I had no idea what my future looked like. And now, as an adult, obviously still HIV positive, but I have a future, and I have a future with you. And we’ve built that. And, you’ve made me feel so beautiful and loved. And I didn’t think I could have that.