Category Archives: Friends

March on

x5tli34r_400x400W and I are making plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington next Saturday.

On Friday, we are driving from Philadelphia to Baltimore and staying overnight.

We will be heading to D.C. early Saturday morning.

We are coordinating with friends and looking into parking and keeping an eye on the weather.

A few weeks ago when I mentioned the march to some friends, they told me to be careful. “There will be protesters,” someone cautioned in a heavy, serious voice. It was as if they were telling me about something I hadn’t considered like the Beltway getting backed up as early as 3:00.

It was at that moment that I realized that most people have not had to deal with a someone shouting into a megaphone and waiving a sign in their faces and telling them they are going to hell.

Note: If you are gay, this is something that happens to you on a regular basis when you gather with other gay people. Even in 2017.

“I’m a lesbian,” I said. “I’m used to it.”

* * *

Are you going to the Women’s March on Washington? Have you ever been to a march? Have you ever experienced protesters?

 

Rich

imageslp1bxi04Rich.

That’s the word that’s been in my head and in my heart for the past few weeks. Jingling around like gold coins in a drawstring pouch.

I’ve felt rich in life. Rich in love. Rich in friends. Rich in my writing life. Rich in everything I need.

I have a weekly routine and friends and my writing and enough special days and events to keep everything interesting.

It’s a rich life.

I think about love and how that makes everything richer. How things seem more special when W’s there. The way I can’t wait for her to get home at night so I can tell her about my day and experience it all over again through her eyes.

Of course, my life isn’t perfect. The house is usually a mess and the cat puked under the dining room table and shouldn’t I be due for a pay increase and when will those damn kids get jobs.

But my life is rich. It’s cheesecake and a hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream and a $20 bill that I found in an old pair of jeans.

And then last night happens, and I am sad and hurt and broken inside. If you read this blog, you are probably feeling the same way.

imageszgi58iwpStill, I remind myself of the richness of my life. Of love and friends and the way they swirl around me like stardust.

This morning, W tells me everything will be okay and that she loves me.

A friend invites me to a drum circle. Other friends share kind words and blog posts they have found to be soothing and encouraging. A friend who runs a local LGBT group sends an e-mail about working together to protect the rights of those in our community. I will attend the steering committee meeting they are holding on Monday to find out what I can do to help.

W will be home soon. We will have dinner together and watch Luke Cage on Netflix. She’ll fall asleep first. I’ll write and read and then turn in for the night. If I can’t sleep, I’ll settle in close to W and the cats piled up at my feet.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get out of the house and write in the little coffee shop in town. Maybe I’ll see some of my friends there. I’ll be kind to myself. I’ll be kind to others.

And when things seem hopeless or scary or pointless, I’ll take refuge in my rich life.

* * *

What makes your life rich?

Fire in the hole! We’re getting married!

Red buttonWe sent out electronic invites to our wedding this week.

Before hitting the send button, W asked if I was ready.

I yelled out something like “fire in the hole!” or “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

I can’t be sure.  It all happened so fast.

And they were gone.

We held our breath for a really long time.

The world didn’t explode.

We laid sideways on our bed on our stomachs, stared at W’s iPad and waited for the first response.  We had set the over-under line at 10 minutes.  W took the under.  I took the over.

W won.

We giggled like schoolgirls laying on our bed like that with our feet dangling off the edge, wondering what we just set in motion.

So, we are busy planning our wedding.  It’s going to be an informal picnic-style affair.  Pot luck, of course, because after all we are lesbians.  (See page 23 of Lesbian Handbook.)

PennsylvaniaWe had a formal commitment ceremony a few years ago with all the bells and whistles.  This is just a party with vows because now we can get legally hitched in Pennsylvania.  We get to celebrate that we are still in love and still choose each other.  We have another opportunity to get together with friends and family.  I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so right now I am acutely aware of how little time we spend with the people we love most.

Just this once I think we get the sweeter deal. We get two wedding celebrations because we’re gay.  Take that straight people!

Every once in a while, W asks me if I’m sure I want to marry her.  Like when she’s in wedding-planning mode.

Every once in a while, I ask W if she’s sure she wants to marry me.  Like when I’m setting over-under lines for everything and making her watch another “quirky” movie.

We pretend to call it off every couple of days.

I thought I would be more nervous than I am.  Because this time it’s for realz.

But I’m ok.  (And not just my normal butch I-told-you-I’m-ok-now-leave-me-the-hell-alone ok, but really ok.)

I think of me and W stretched out on our bed and laughing like kids.  I want to bottle that feeling of lightness and happiness and connection.

I guess I’ll just marry her instead.

 

More better butch blues

So, yeah, summer.  Bummer.

I wrote about my summertime slump a post or two ago.  You can read about it here.

Or just skip to the recap: Kids are home from school in the summer, which wreaks havoc on my weekly routine and daily domination of home and hearth.  So, I get grumpy.  And don’t get me started on the fact that it’s hot, which means people generally wear less clothing.  This is not good for butches with body issues.  Isn’t this all of us?

But is something else going on?

I looked back at my posts from June 2013 and saw some depressing posts about baggage.

Could there be something more, something cyclical that rears its sunburnt head when summer rolls around?

xx

I heart you, Olivia.

As a kid, I certainly welcomed summer vacation.  It’s all a blur of Brady Bunch reruns, baseball cards and whiffle ball games that lasted double-digit innings and ran from one day into the next.  Grease is a fine summer memory (even though I didn’t realize that my obsession with the film was really about my crush on Olivia Newton-John).

As I got older, I spent most of the summer working closing shift at the local McDonalds.  We blasted Madonna and Prince on our boom boxes after hours as we got the place ready for breakfast the next morning.  The bulk of my paycheck went toward sneakers (I specifically remember a pair of gray Converse high tops) and cassette tapes (Joan Jett, you will always rock my world).

After I left for college, I never really wanted to go home for the summer.  I was glad for the break from classes, but didn’t want to leave my friends.  The school had become my home, and my friends had become my family.  We had our roles and our routine.  Looking back, I think I felt safe living in an all-female space, even though I didn’t identify as a lesbian at the time.

There’s something about belonging to a group of women that I find comforting.  Maybe it’s all of the estrogen in the air or the hairspray fumes.  I don’t know.

If we are attending some kind of event that is to be attended by people from my past, W always asks if any of my women will be there.  “Now which one is that?” she’ll ask.  “There’s so many of them,” she’ll exclaim.

I like that I have women.  My grade-school women.  The women, the college years.  My support group women.

I wonder if my summer blues are not about the start of something new but about ending something old, comfortable, familiar.  I wonder if it’s not about the kids ending the school year but me ending school … 30 years ago.

Triggers are weird.  Life is weird.

The best we can do is be aware and carry on.

And wait for fall.

 

Happy Birthday, Janet Jackson!

xx

My friend, Janet Jackson (not really my friend)

Last week was my friend Janet Jackson’s birthday. Her name is not really Janet Jackson, but she used to dance in the streets of our college town like Janet Jackson — Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty — did in those videos from her hit album Control. What did you expect? It was the 80s after all.

Typically, Janet Jackson and I mail birthday gifts back and forth. Usually, the gift is emblazoned with the logo of our college alma mater.

That’s where we met. College. Janet Jackson and I lived on the same floor in the same dorm. Bigler Hall, Clarion House, 1985. We lived at opposite ends of the floor, which is symbolic of how we live at opposite ends of the state of Pennsylvania.

Initially, Janet Jackson thought I was weird. Can you imagine that? Closeted college-age butch weird?  (Three things that are really weird about Janet Jackson: 1) She has abnormally short fingers.  2) She gets all blotchy when she drinks beer.  3) She thinks the Liberty Bell is in London.)

At first, Janet Jackson wasn’t charmed by yours truly. In addition to finding me strange (the outrage!), Janet Jackson thought I was annoying. There were many weekends when she banned me from attending parties after-hours collegiate activities with her and her gang of co-eds. (Not only was real Janet Jackson’s blockbuster album called Control, but pretend Janet Jackson had control issues.  Oh, the irony, said the English major.)

But then something happened, and Janet Jackson and I became co-horts, friends even.

We had such adventures.

There was the time that we attended a kegger on top of a mountain. You can read about that here.  Or the time that at the bar when we encouraged people to chug a beer from our friend’s shoe. It was a brown flat, if you must know. Who can forget the time that we organized the “You’re Flying Higher Than a Kite” bar tour or carried buckets of grain punch out the windows of Janet Jackson’s dorm room as the resident assistant busted our party?

But it was always more than just beer and parties and hangovers and crazy stories the following the day that always started with the words “it was really late, and we were really drunk.”

Permed hair = the 80s

Permed hair = the 80s

We had contests concerning whose permed hair was taller (again, it was the 80s) and gave each other silly nicknames. We spoke in running jokes. A word or short phrase — “the cranberries” — would cause us to laugh hysterically.

When we left school, we kept in touch. We both got married and had kids. But we always made time to get together. Janet Jackson and I returned to our alma mater for football games. We took road trips. We saw The Lion King on Broadway, visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, went to a Steelers game.

And then I came out.

I waited for my world to change. I thought my friends would be ok with it all, with me, but I wasn’t sure. How could I have been?

But they were ok. And I was ok. We were ok.

I often wonder about the science of friends. Sometimes we grow apart, sometimes we outgrow them.

xx

Friends are like this.

And sometimes we grow together like different branches on the same giant oak.  We take our own paths, twisting and turning this way and that way as we aim for the bursts of sunlight that shine through the leaves. But at the end of the day, we share common roots.

Dorm meetings and frat parties, painted faces and football games, Sunday brunch at the dining hall, late nights at Roy Rogers … those are our roots.  The roots that Janet Jackson and I share.

Keeping with tradition, I did get Janet Jackson a birthday gift. It will mail out tomorrow — nine days after the fact. Janet Jackson won’t sweat the delay, because we’re those kind of friends.

But here’s another gift from me to Janet Jackson:

Dear Janet Jackson, I hope in 100 years we’ll still be growing together, our knotted, gnarled limbs reaching upward as we sway and creak in the wind.

Oh, and one more thing.

The cranberries.