How did I get to this place, where I have to ask myself this question?

Well I guess I'll start with "how did I get to this place?", because I don't feel ready to handle the rest of it yet. This place is San Francisco, and I got here in a roundabout way. First, I graduated from my private girls college and went a little insane, and then I took off for Europe to "find myself." My worst suspicions were confirmed I found that I did indeed have the soul of a poet, that my school-days written ramblings were what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wandered a good deal of England, France, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland (with a rather debauched pit-stop in Amsterdam) in the course of reaching of this conclusion. Of course, finding yourself in Europe is quite expensive (drugs and alcohol are never cheap, anyway, and neither are lodgings with neither roommates or cockroaches.) All too soon I found myself sans l'argent, keine geld, etc., and that was when I found a part of myself that I had not been looking for.

Besides the soul of a poet, I have the body of a high-priced hooker. Note I do not call myself beautiful, that is what I just happen to be thought of by society's weird standards. Beautiful to me has much more to do with the inside of a person, and if someone I find beautiful calls me beautiful, then that is when it counts. However, what was going to make me more money? My poetic soul, or my 5'7 34C-24-34 frame, long blonde hair, and dark blue eyes? (Those of you who answered the former live in a perfect world, and can I please come live there with you?) I personally think it was the joke of some god to stick my brain into a bimbo's body, but I used what I have to my advantage.

Now, even though I had the body to fulfill the call-girl trade, there was a related job that was even better for me. All over Europe there were dungeon societies and bondage clubs, which I had discovered on my travelings. I fell in love with the tall, shiny boots and dangerous clothes, with the sounds of a single tail cracking the speed of sound, with the smells of fear/lust/leather/blood; with the feel of Wartenburg wheels and blindfolds and elaborate rope-dresses against my skin. I wanted those clothes, and I wanted to spend time in those places.

And there were many lonely, lustful people who wanted to oblige me. Many rich, eccentric men and women, who needed a tall female who looked good in rubber, PVC, leather, vinyl, or corseting to "dominate" them in public, or to be led about the club on a leash, looking all sex-kittenish and saying "yes, Sir, yes Ma'am." I was a trophy for them, a "look what a good Dom I am, to have this sub," or a "look what a good sub I am, to attract this Domme." For me, they were free bondage clothes and "toys", free food, drugs and lodging, free time spent in a world that delighted me. The payment was to tolerate their company and their peccadilloes, but it was more than worth the price.

For a while. In the world of S/M, sex is not the main currency, and I was glad to take advantage of it. I did not give blow jobs or other sexual services. Their chains and floggers might touch my shell, but never my poet's soul. At first, that was the good thing. After while, it was the thing that drove me away. I began to dream about "Her." A woman who could touch my soul, could whip and caress more than my body, who would be the poetry I heard in my head. The world I was in got old and small, and so I packed suitcases full of fetish gear and an overflowing portfolio of Europe-and kink-inspired poems, and took off for home, the United States.

Boston, to be exact. Where I could settle down for a bit, and set up shop as a pro-Domme while raising capital. That got old even faster, telling doctors and lawyers and politicians that they had been "bad boys" in my studio-cum-dungeon. But I had the clothes, the experience, and I did not judge my clients. I scrimped and saved (no more caffe mochas, now it was a small coffee), dreamed about Her, and got so depressed that my already dark poetry became enough to cause the audience at readings to want to break their glasses of over-priced Chardonnay or bottles of micro-brewed beer and lacerate their wrists to get it over with.

My "scene" connections in ye olde Boston had connections in San Francisco. I felt a call to that city I felt if She was in any city in the U.S., it would be there. So again bags of fetish gear and poetry were packed, and off I went on my search this time not for me, but for Her.

With my pro-Domme money I found an under-sized apartment for an over-sized price, and set to doing modeling for artists (another job I was good for) and exploring the world of unprofessional Bondage-Domination/Dominance-Submission/Sadism-Masochism (BDSM), where the exchange was really of power and not of money, goods, and services.

So off I went to the exclusive lesbian play parties, and went, and went, and went, looking for Her. I was not too popular at first. Even though I was at the right place and the right time, I looked like a pro-Domme, not like the rest of the dykes at the parties. I was a bit too perfect, with my "ideal" body, my femme-ness, my multi-linguistic abilities, and my extensive wardrobe. Most scene dykes distrust pro-Dommes, who are basically fulfilling a straight male fantasy paradigm I was too good to be true, and so, was treated as if I was not real. But I kept showing up and being welcomed to the parties by the hostesses, and I respected other people's scene space, and did not pull the "femme tricks" of getting butches to fight over me and leave their femmes for me, so I was slowly assimilated. I got to meet many real, amazing, wonderful people, and see many beautiful examples of power exchanges and trust, which all made me hunger all the more for Her. I even made a few friends, mostly with the other femmes who weren't already taken. They enjoyed the shopping-and-gossiping trips we took, and filled me in more about "who's who" in the scene.

Then ... She showed up. I was not ready at all; I was more than ready. I had become used to being a femme's friend, and a butch's eye-candy. (I had even tried a few small, private scenes with some of the tops in the scene, but who were not Her, and so were not repeated.) So it was a contradictory surprise (I'd been waiting so long, yet it suddenly was not half long enough) to see Her at the Halloween play party. I was dressed in a black leather catsuit with zippers everywhere, and wicked stilettos, and a leather crafted half-face cat mask with exquisite whiskers.

She was wearing her leathers: black leather pants, jacket, boots, all well-worn and well-cared-for. With the boots on She was a little taller than me in my stilettos. She had spiky black hair and ocean-at-storm gray eyes, and a face too pretty to be butch, but Her manner was too masculine to be even remotely femme. She moved with a careful grace, an awareness of Herself and Her surroundings. She radiated calm and stability, and I was drawn towards Her. It was love/desire/need at first sight. My eyes were on Her from the second She entered, and followed Her to the corner of the playspace she claimed. She put down her toy-bag and golf-bag (for canes and crops), put Her foot up on a stool, and surveyed the area filled with unpartnered-yet-hopeful tops and bottoms, who had gathered together to watch, be seen, and flirt.

My companions saw my eyes lock on her lanky frame, and the whispering around me began. I paid it no mind until one put her hand on my leather-clad arm.
"You might think she's a hot top. But. Umm. You don't want to play with her."
"Why-ever not?"
"Well. She. Has a ahem a reputation."
"A reputation for...?" I asked, waited, and finally another girl butted in with a more blunt response.
"She's dying of AIDS."
"She doesn't look like she's dying to me."
"No -- well -- she has it, but she isn't really sick yet."
"So you mean she's HIV-positive."
"Yeah, same thing. She's gonna die of AIDS. And if you played with her, she'd give it to you."
"That's not inevitable."
"What are you talking about?! This isn't something you can cure! You would risk getting AIDS?!" This appeared to be the general opinion of everyone around me. I seemed to have upset some taboo by not shrinking from the information like just the words could infect me.

Now this was not to say that my inner world was not in utter turmoil. I did not want to believe that the woman I had searched and searched for was infected with a virus that could, most likely would, kill her. She seemed so strong that I could not bear to think of her weak with the pain and fatigue that would take her if the virus went full-blown. I could not stand to think that something so terrible could happen to the woman I wanted to worship, and worship for a very long life to come.

So debate raged around me in the form of gossiping women, and internally as well, as I went from the joy of having found Her to the pain of discovering that She was infected with a (most often) deadly disease. And I cannot say I did not think about me. I could catch HIV as well as anyone, as easily as She had, however that was. I knew myself and the world of BDSM options, and I knew I wanted things extreme: fisting, play piercing, cuttings and knifeplay, and none of those were considered "safe" play. And as for sex ... dammit, I wanted to taste Her, suck on Her, drink Her cum, piss and menstrual blood not latex and saran wrap!
I started hearing the women around me again:
"I wonder how she got it?"
"That's why I don't do edge-play."
"I heard she slept with a man!"

That's what drove me over the edge, to where I am now. I glared around at the women who surrounded me, women who I had no interest in sleeping with, or playing with, or spending the rest of my life adoring, threw my long pale hair over my shoulders, and strode over to Her.

She looked at me appraisingly as I crossed the room I, of course, totally and completely aware of Her gaze. Then when I stopped a few respectful feet away from Her and met Her eyes, She returned the look for a few heart-beats. Any long-rehearsed notions of what I would say to Her immediately evaporated from my brain, and then She said, "A bit over-dressed for the occasion, aren't we?"

"I wanted to look good for you." It was simple, it was the first thing out of my brain/mouth, and it was true.

"I like that. I would also like you naked and on your knees."
"Shall I disrobe now?"
"No. We have many things to discuss, many things, and I do not want you in submissive headspace for that. I want you thinking very clearly indeed. I came here to play with some old friends; but I find that something entirely new, and much more preoccupying is awaiting me, and my plans have changed. Is there some public place you wish to go to converse?"
"There is a small cafe I like a few blocks over."
"Very well. Shall we?"

This was the final "out" She was giving me. Of course, our little tete a tete could prove disappointing and profitless for either or both of us, and did not have to lead to me being Her slave until the end of time, but for now She was asking, "Are you sure you want to talk seriously in private with me?"

I nodded, reached down to pick up Her toybag and cane-bag, settled them on either shoulder, and followed Her out of the dungeon, all eyes on us, tongues waiting anxiously to wag.

The talk went well. That is why I am here, a few days later, on my knees, in this place, where I have to ask myself this question. She has left me in an uncomfortable nakedness, in the wearing of my street clothes and in my lack of bondage, and I have been given a half an hour to meditate upon the solemnity of my decision.

I have gone over how I got to this place now I have to ask myself the question: do I want a Domme who is HIV-positive? All the other questions are answered for me. I know who I am, what I want, why I want it. And I know that She is one with similar tastes and corresponding needs and desires, who wants me as Her full-time submissive, lover and friend, one who will test the boundaries of human experience with Her...all of this, if I want Her as She is, infected with HIV.

If only she did not have...NO! I will not think that! If I do want to love this woman, I will do it one hundred percent, I will love all of her, even the HIV-positive part. If I want this woman, it will be even if/when She gets ill and weak, even if She is dying. And if I want to serve this woman, it will be even if She is bedridden, and I will clean up Her bodily wastes, serve her sick-food and pills, all without a chance of Her "playing" with me. And ... if I want this so much I will risk "infection" to be with Her. . . .

Under the chaos of indecision, I do not hear it for a while, but it grows stronger and stronger and stronger until it drowns the questions and fears out: Yes. YES. YES! I will risk all for love and need. If it was something other than *this disease*, it would not be such an issue. The stigma of this disease is what is clouding my mind!

The door opening clicks so loudly to my inward-listening ears that I jump. She walks over to me.

"Have you made a decision?"

I open my mouth; no words come out, so I fall over and embrace her ankles, so full of emotion that I allow myself this unasked-for privilege. But She knows, She understands. She pulls me to my knees again, and lifts my chin and looks into my eyes, her gray ones full of emotion. "I am glad. . . ."

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Illustration courtesy Joris van Daele.