It was midnight on Sunday night and I was in a deep sleep. When the phone rang, I picked up. “Hello Marvelyn, this is Sarah,” said a voice. Sarah is a producer from the Oprah show that I had been talking to for about a week. “Are you available to come to Chicago tomorrow?” Shocked, and suddenly a little less tired, “Yes!” At that moment, I had no clue that it would mean catching the 10 am flight from New York nonstop to Chicago, and that I would only have a few hours to get ready.
As I got off the plane in Chicago, I was pumped up. I was greeted with a limo filled with soda and was taken away to the OMNI hotel. Before I got of the limo at the hotel, I tried to fix my hair and put on some lip gloss so I would not look so bad. The hotel was really fancy; every room was a suite and had a 40 inch flat screen television. As I looked out my hotel room at the view of the Hancock Building and Lake Michigan not far behind it, reality hit: I was in Chicago for the Oprah Winfrey Show. I got so nervous that I started to cry and started having second thoughts. I was overwhelmed.
I soon learned that I would be in an open discussion with five other HIV positive women, along with Oprah, and I began to calm down. Oprah scared me, but I felt more comfortable and more secure with other positive women surrounding me. They included my boss, Regan Hofman whose confidence makes her one of my role models, one of my best friends, Chelsea Gulden, and three women from the west coast named Precious Jackson, Evette Olgetree, and Cherrel Edwards. It was like the support group that I never had. I haven’t experienced so many different emotions at once. We cried, we laughed, and we bonded and I was overjoyed that I could share that with such dynamic women.
On my free day in Chicago, I did what any other woman on Shoppers Row would do. I shopped. I went up and down that street until my feet hurt; okay, I can admit it, just until I went broke, which took every bit of an hour. I also got my hair done by my wonderful personal stylist (okay I did it myself) and ate the rest of the day away, Chicago style.
OMG! I loved the show. I think it will send a powerful message out to women and call them to action about learning their HIV status and educating themselves. I was shocked to learn that almost every thing that I’d ever heard about Magic Johnson was false. Everything from him being cured, to having special treatment options and that he does
not do enough in the HIV/AIDS community are all FALSE. I love Magic Johnson, and I was pleased to see him putting all the rumors to shame. When Magic first came out and told the world he HIV positive, I was only 8 years old -- I heard about it, but I did not understand nor care. The show was definietly a life changing experience for me -- not just because I was a guest on the Oprah show, but because I know that by sharing our stories, we changed peoples view on HIV/AIDS. And hopefully, we’ll get them talking.
Chicago was so cold (it was 34 degrees), that when I got to New York, I took off my jacket for while because I felt like the 50 degrees back here was hot!. I won’t miss that part of my trip. But overall, I loved this experience and I would not change it for the world.