I Love You…Which Is Why I Didn’t Tell You I Have Herpes

Cessna152 / (Shutterstock.com)
Cessna152 / (Shutterstock.com)

It was such an amazing Sunday evening. We strolled the Seine by Notre Dame and held hands. We watched the sunset on Pont Neuf and took photos by the Louvre. We canoodled on the bus on the way to my place. You came up, we had wine, and when you told me you didn’t have to work the next day, I asked you to stay.

You had a scab on your lip, so I wouldn’t let you go down on me. You agreed politely. I asked if you had cold sores—lippenherpes in German, your native tongue—but you seemed shocked at the suggestion. We (mostly) used condoms, but we’d done it before without them so I wasn’t worried. The amazing day quickly became an amazing night.

We woke up early and I noticed a couple blisters on your lips. I realized these were cold sores and was glad we were smart enough to avoid oral. We went for a French breakfast and I felt nauseous and threw up in the bathroom. You knew I was really unwell, even though I continued to say I was fine. I loved how intuitive you were. I didn’t need to say anything and you knew exactly what I wanted to say. It didn’t matter that you barely spoke English.

After breakfast, we walked around the cemetery, stopped for some delightful pastries, and later had greasy Chinois for dinner. You wanted to leave by 5PM, but you stayed until 9, of course, because you couldn’t leave. I missed you the moment you left. It felt like the past 24 hours had been a dream.

On my trip to London over the next few days, I felt sick and was worried I’d get a cold sore. It felt like a small price to pay for a wonderful weekend with you. By Thursday, I finally felt better, but I felt the cold sore. I ran to the bathroom and saw the cold sore, and after a few minutes, I saw the herpes. I froze.

I thought back and deduced that your cold-sore lips were hyper-contagious. It probably only took one touch of your hand to infect me. I could do nothing but get the proper medicine once I was back in Paris. After that, I cried for the next three days.

Time passed. I was mostly better and you wanted to meet. My cold sore was better but not gone. You kissed me regardless and I loved you more for it. We had ice cream and walked around the Latin Quarter. You apologized for giving me the cold sore and I accepted. I was afraid to ask why you lied about your scab or didn’t know to be careful when you felt a cold sore coming. But how could I be mad while you smiled at me that way? It had to be a big misunderstanding.

It was the first time you didn’t ask what was going to happen in six weeks when you had to return home. You didn’t care anymore, and neither did I. I wanted to tell you that the cold sores were, well, everywhere, but I chickened out. I told you if you came home with me, we couldn’t have as much fun as usual. It didn’t bother you one bit.

I kept thinking perhaps you understood what I meant, until you made a comment and I knew that was my one chance to correct you. It was like a flash, and it was gone before I could muster up the courage to say anything. And just as quickly as it happened, I forgot when you wrapped your arms around me. You stayed the night and we cuddled and made out like teenagers.

You left early the next morning and it was so hard to say goodbye. I could feel it happening, could feel myself falling. My feelings were so confused. I was so upset and so happy all at once, all because of you.

The next time we hung out, I had worse news to share with you—that when you were leaving, and so was I. You were quiet for a while before you pulled me in and said it would all be OK. My outbreak was long over, and in those moments in the park, in the sunshine, I almost forgot completely. Almost.

I can’t forget because it will stay with me forever. Maybe that’s part of why I can’t forget you. Even though an ocean separates us, we’ll always have Paris. And I’ll always have herpes. TC mark

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