Friday, November 19, 2010
Warning: Shamelessly Sappy
If you read the title, consider yourself warned.
If you need further warning, today is my anniversary.
About 13 years ago, I met the woman who became my wife. A mutual friend who thought we had a lot in common had wanted us to meet for a while. She thought we would become friends.
Neither of us was single when we met. In fact, her girlfriend was with her as she, her girlfriend, our friend and her partner and I all went to one of my favorite places, the SC State Fair. My then girlfriend did not join us.
While I confess that her girlfriend and I tried to "out butch" each other (and I am aware the powers that be were with me in keeping me from getting ill on some of those rides!), M and I didn't flirt with each other. We are both sort of old fashioned that way...you don't cheat on the person you are dating and you don't try to hook up with someone who is taken.
We didn't see each other again for two years. Then we each got separate emails from our mutual friend "innocently" pointing out that the other was now single. We started chatting by email and phone. And eleven years ago today, I drove up to see her. We have been together ever since.
A lot of people ask if we met in the Foreign Service, but we were together for more than two years before she joined. In fact, she wouldn't have joined if not for me. She had planned to blow off both the written (I told her to do it, it would give her more options if she passed) and the orals (I told her we'd make a tourist weekend of DC of it). And when she got the offer and her subsequent first assignment, we decided we should get married. So we made arrangements with our church in North Carolina, and were married in August of 2002. Though it was not legal (there were no states with same-sex marriage in 2002), we consider this our real wedding.
But I consider today to be our anniversary as well (we celebrate both, because, hey, who doesn't like more excuses to celebrate?), because last year, on the 10th anniversary of our being together, we drove to Provincetown, Massachusetts and were married legally. And though I thought this was simply a piece of paper, a legal protection of sorts, I find it is more than that. It is also something tangible, solid. Like our commitment before God and our community in our church wedding, this means something.
There are those who don't understand why I am so public not just about my sexuality but about my marriage. I have been told by some folks, gay and straight, "Sexuality should be private. I don't care what you do in your bedroom." But surely your realize your own sexuality is about more than sex. It is about who you form your not just physical, but emotional and spiritual attachment to. By saying it is "private," you are saying it is something that needs to be hidden. But marriage is not a private thing. It is a profoundly public act. It is about declaring your love and commitment not just to each other, but to your community, and if you are a spiritual person, to your Creator. Even the most secular marriages involve more than a private declaration...they have to go to a Justice of the Peace.
We are as traditional a couple as you would find among any heterosexuals (something I think my in-laws are coming to realize). Our weddings were spiritually based and our marriage is profoundly traditional. We are best friends and equal partners. We work hard. We save for our retirement. We pay our bills on time. We live within our means. We eat dinner together every night, at the table, where we usually work a crossword puzzle together. We have a date night, usually at our favorite sushi place, every week. We have goofy inside jokes that no one else understands. We have chosen not to have children, but we are doting aunts and devoted mothers to our fur and feather children. I am convinced, 11 years later, that we were made for each other. We have a very good life and I am grateful for every single aspect of it. And I look forward to the day when our marriage is treated like any other marriage, because it is exactly like any other marriage (well, the good ones anyway).
Twelve years ago, I could not have imagined my life looking anything like it does today. Today, I can not imagine my life any other way.