“The two of you need to agree on when the relationship started,” the mediator tells us both. She and Kelly and I are sitting at a small round table in her office.
In order to dismantle this life we built together, we have to agree on when we began.
Our first date. The day I moved in. Her first business trip, when young Grace and I sat at the kitchen table playing cards, entirely unsure of one another and both of us – I think – trying not to cry.
Our first Christmas together. Meeting Miss E for the first time, all three of us holding her in our arms, marveling over her.
Grace’s prom. Our year in London. Moving houses. Moving houses again. Changing jobs. Not working. Working part-time. Leaping from the corporate world to real estate. Not moving to Texas. Getting legally married in front of family and friends.
Our family narrative is rich with milestones. Beginnings. Endings. Change.
Bringing the girls to college and Kindergarten on the same day.
Is it only people from broken homes who understand?
You need to be intentional about keeping your home intact. You change the oil in your car. You oil your wooden counters. You replace old furnace filters. If you don’t, there comes a point in your marriage, too, where simple maintenance won’t help. Oiling won’t help. New filters won’t help because you’ve allowed the damage to permeate so deeply it’s beyond repair.
How do people not know this? Does no one listen? Why do people believe they’re exempt from the hard work of keeping love alive? Why do people think their lives, their hearts, their love, their families are different?
Hey! Hello! Whoever you are, you have to nurture love every single solitary day.
At the grocery store, I pay special attention to the middle-aged women. I’m drawn to the women who move with confidence and decisiveness, whose faces tell me they’ve weathered some storm and come out the other side.
I am who I am because of the life we shared. She is who she is, too.
Like our dogs yesterday, I am always listening for her car door, the beep of her car alarm engaging, or the rev of her motorcycle arriving home again, her steps on our front porch, the squeak of our kitchen door.
I am listening for her.
She is not coming.
I am still listening.
“Tell him how you feel,” I tell my friend.
“But he doesn’t mean it like that,” she says, shaking her head.
“I know. That’s why you have to tell him how it makes you feel: He doesn’t know.”
I want love to last. I want love given a fighting chance.
I do not let people off the hook easily these days.
She sent me a small sweet gift a few days later – after she told him how she felt, after he changed his behavior. Her relief was palpable. My gratitude was deep, is deep.
We are all here for each other, here on this planet. We forget, but it’s true. I am grateful to be reminded.
Someday, there will be a study on our generation of queers, to see how marriage equality unbalanced the long-term relationships we carefully built outside the legal system.
Meanwhile, my grief is every day.
I don’t blame marriage equality. We just sequenced things badly, Kelly and I.
When did we begin? When did we end?
There is no great entry point for this story — the story of my family, the story of my marriage, the story of my divorce. It’s why I’m telling it in pieces.
Every morning when I let the dogs out, I make a point to notice the weight of the sun on my porch – the slant of its light, the intensity of its heat. My morning communion with the sun is what carries me through the day.
In my twenties, I had whole days without people – waking when I wanted, moving from sleep to coffee to… whatever whenever the spirit moved me. I could stay in my pajamas all day long. I could write, nap, talk on the phone, turn off the phone – whole days where nothing was expected of me, days where the only expectations were those I had for myself. I had forgotten the simplicity and the beauty of this kind of unfettered time just billowing out in front of me like a sheet lifting in the wind, anchored by one corner in each of my hands, gently tugging me forward.
The sun. My daughters. Friends. The wind.
Pulls me forward.
Even when I am in the house alone for
Hours. Nights. Days.
My gratitude for friends who simply take me as I am goes far beyond words.
We are all here for each other, here on this planet. We forget, but it’s true.
I am grateful to be reminded.