My body broke down and I had an outbreak, and it was really actually anticlimactic because I’d been dreading having another outbreak for so long. For two or three days, I was moderately uncomfortable. And I was like, oh, I had been so afraid of this happening, and it was fine.I’ve had a lot of sinus infections in my life, and I would much rather have herpes than sinus infections.And a few weeks into the relationship, I woke up with an outbreak of really gross sores and I was really upset and I did that like horrible Google search of like, “Oh my god, what is this? I had the first one which was terrible and lasted about a week and a half maybe or a week and I was on Valtrex. And then I had my second outbreak, I think two years later.Please don’t tell me it’s herpes.” But of course it is. I was working a very stressful conference in a really wacky time zone, and my body was just kind of in a panic.And what I didn’t expect was the essay had this huge response, first from the erotica community. I don’t think there were campus sex magazines when I was in college. Got to go to Wesleyan, where everyone is extremely weird.And then from friends and friends of friends and random people I went to college with who don’t even read erotica but had my blog forwarded to them and said, “Oh my god, I have herpes, too.” It changed my life in a weird way because suddenly I realized that so many people had this experience that I did, and it made me want to keep writing about it. But yeah, so I had this kind of reputation that I had fun owning.
It’s not that he’s shy or insecure about his looks.
Because sinus infections will, like, knock out your brain and mess you up and last forever. One of my favorite Tinder conversations was, I had been flirting with this guy. We don’t have to talk about it.” So I get it out of the way super fast because it’s freeing, and the sooner you bring it up and the more casual and confident you are when you talk about it, the more reassured that other person is as well.
But I’ve had two herpes outbreaks and I was able to go to work and nobody knew what was going on, and I just took Tylenol and Valtrex and I was fine. And there are people who have more serious strains of herpes and it can mess with your body in different ways. He was flirting with me and invited me to his hotel, basically. A mistake that I made when I was still newly diagnosed was I would frequently tell somebody with a lot of, “I’m so sorry, I hope this doesn’t change the way you think of me.” I set them up to think it’s a really scary thing.
There was this really interesting debate happening in the erotica-writing community about whether or not it should be required to include condoms in sex scenes.
I was a really new erotica author at that point — I hadn’t been published in anything, but I was blogging regularly and I felt like there was this weird disconnect in that conversation, with nobody talking about the fact that people have STDs, too, and that people with STDs have sex.