Tag Archives: love

How I decided to not be a Grinch this year

“Let’s not get a Christmas tree this year,” I say to W. “We’re too busy to get one and set it up. The kids won’t enjoy it, because they never come out of their rooms. Plus, we can save the $100.”

“Oh,” she says in a quiet voice. “This might be the last Christmas we have in our house with the kids.”

But her voice is soft so I know I’ve won. No traveling to the Christmas tree farm, overpaying for a tree, lugging it home and into the house. No making sure it’s perfectly straight, stringing the lights, placing the ornaments just so and yelling at the cats to get the hell out of the goddamn tree. No boxing up the decorations and dragging the tree to the curb some weekend in January when the branches have started to droop and vacuuming pine needles for weeks and weeks and weeks, even though the tree has been long gone and is now barely a memory of Christmas past.

downloadI rub my hands together and smile a big smile.

I feel a little bit bad. But I’m busy. So busy. With work. And other things. My manuscript is due in January and I’m freaking out. I haven’t written a blog post in for-ev-er.

Three days before Christmas, I start feeling a tad more bad.

Because W deserves better. She deserves a Christmas tree.

So when she is out for the evening, my son and I drive to a nursery and get a tree like we used to do in the old days, pre-W.

All of the trees are $45. My son wants a Charlie Brown tree, but I’m paying so I pick out a not too big, not too small tree with a straight spine.

imagesShe’s tall and slim with excellent posture like Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

“It’s not going to fit in our car,” my son says.

“It’ll fit in the trunk,” I say. “Don’t you remember how we used to carry our trees in the trunk of our car.”

He says he doesn’t. He always says he doesn’t remember.

The kid at the nursery binds the tree and starts jamming it in the trunk of my Nissan Altima. He looks a little like the Grinch shoving Cindy Lou Who’s tree up the chimney for repair.

Hela barely fits in the trunk of my car. My son and I smile big goofy smiles at each other as the kid struggles with the tree. His smile saying see I told you. My smile saying see I told you, too.

On the way home, my son says we should have saved the $45.

“It’s a waste of time and money,” he says. “It’s going to take you two or three hours to get it set up.”

“One or one and a half,” I correct him. “But that’s not the point. It will make W happy,” I say.

I don’t tell him my secret wish for him. That I hope someday he has someone in his life who is worth such expense and bother.

He shrugs his shoulders.

“Plus, I got to pick out a tree with you,” I add.

At home, he helps me put the tree in the stand.

He doesn’t want to cut the plastic netting and watch the tree spread its arms or help string the lights or put on the star like he used to. He’s 18 not 8, and I ache for those 10 years.

IMG_2164I take my time and wind three strands of lights around Hela. When I’m done, I pull the lights to the front of the branches, the way W likes them.

Next, I put on the string of purple beads that W always had on her tiny tree in her Philadelphia apartment. Back then, I thought it was a strange—purple beads on a Christmas tree. Now, our tree doesn’t seem complete without them.

I place the silver star on the highest branch. A gold star below it.

The silver star was the one W always placed on her tree. The gold star was the one my son and used to decorate our tree.

When the kids were young, they would fight over which star we should use. We always used both to keep the peace. Now, it’s tradition.

I wait up for W, admiring my handiwork: a skinny tree with lights and purple beads and a silver star and a gold star.

“Oh,” she says when she comes home.

“I was going to ask you if we could get a tree,” she says.

“I’m sorry I’m such a Grinch,” I say. “I don’t mean to be.”

I kiss her.

“I know,” she says. “But you usually come around.”

She cries a tiny bit.

download (1).jpgAnd I feel good. Like my heart has grown three sizes today.

* * *

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

(Especially you Grinches out there! You know who you are!)

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I remember

downloadTo my wife:

I remember our first date.

I remember you being late and rushing in the door of the bookstore like a gust of wind.

I remember you laughing and me smiling, not really sure what to make of you but thinking I would like to know more.

I remember walking to the pizza shop that sat at the top of the hill where we ate cheesesteaks and french fries.

I remember how quickly you handed over the money for your half of the bill as if you didn’t want strings, even for a few seconds.

I remember your big, brown eyes, bright and curious like a raccoon’s.

I remember your mask, too, and wondering what was underneath it.

I remember you letting me buy you a beer at that old bar down the street.

I remember sitting on the bench back behind the shops at the end of the night. The small patch of green grass an island for two. “Can I give you a hug?” you had asked, and I said you could.

I remember how you smelled like flowers and patchouli and how hard you hugged me like you were trying to tell me one last thing before we parted and went our separate ways.

* * *

This was from an exercise in today’s writing group. W’s birthday is on Friday, so I thought I’d post today as a small pre-birthday gift. What do you remember about a first date? First love? Start with “I remember” and see where it takes you.

 

 

 

 

Anniversaries

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Young and foxy Middle-Age Butch in 2011. This is the part where W shoves cake up my nose.

W and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend.

We had a commitment ceremony on Oct. 1, 2011, and a wedding three years later on Oct. 11, 2014, when such a thing finally became legal.

Typically, we celebrate the entire month of October because why not. Besides, it’s our reward, or spoils, for not being able to marry back in the day.

In 2011, we had a carnival-themed commitment ceremony in a small live music venue a few miles from our house.

W and I went back there last weekend for a concert.

IMG_8663-1I was struck by how small the place looked with its tiny wooden stage jutting out in front of a bright blue backdrop dotted with white lights in imitation of the sky at night.

At our commitment ceremony, it looked like that blue background had stolen all the stars in the galaxy.

IMG_9774-1

Candy!

That night when we said our vows, the place looked so big. We had a full-size pasta buffet and a candy bar with empty bags declaring, “Love is Sweet.” We brought in an old-fashioned popcorn maker and a photo booth.

Everything fit and there seemed to be so much room for all of our family and friends.

What changed?

Maybe the world changed.

Our lives seem larger now, filled with bigger possibilities as we go through life not as partners but as wives.

Maybe we changed as we found ourselves wanting more from life and started believing we deserved it.

* * *

Hope you find something to celebrate this weekend. 

On words and sexy beasts

Upon her approach, I recognize the uniform of my tribe: jeans, T-shirt, flannel shirt, bandanna.

She has curly brown hair that sits on top of her head like a sculpture. The glint from her silver lip piercing makes her look like she is grinning, always grinning.

She holds out a copy of my book, eyes aimed at the ground.

“I’ve been wanting to ask you to sign this,” she says.

“Sure,” I reply.

I look at the conference badge around her neck to find her name.

“I read the dedication of your book to my girlfriend last night. She thought it was so cool!”

Her face lights up.

I smile real big.

“Oh, yeah?” I say. “I hope you enjoy the book.”

And then she’s gone.

But in her wake, I’m reminded of the importance of words.

All words.

Even the ones we choose for our book dedications.

Here are the ones I used in my book, Leaving Normal:

To my wife, who thinks me a Sexy Beast.

I’d marry you a third time.

I wonder which words caught her eye.

wife

sexy beast

marry

Or maybe all of them.

Telling a short but sweet story of butch love and possibility.

A condiment conundrum

imagesW and I have been fighting. Over condiments.

I spell the red stuff you dip your fries into this way:

c-a-t-s-u-p

and write it like that on the grocery list posted on the fridge.

“Who spells catsup that way?” W asks.

She says it with distaste. Like she has swallowed a pint of sour milk.

“What do you know?” I reply. ” You don’t even like catsup.”

“It’s just weird,” she says.

“I’ll tell you what’s weird,” I say. “Someone who dips their fries in mayo. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t believe in fries and catsup.”

“I think you can’t trust someone who spells ketchup c-at-s-u-p,” she says.

* * *

So, what is it folks? Catsup or ketchup? What do you dip your french fried potatoes in?  

 

 

Happy #butchappreciationday

images (1)I hope you have someone in your life who:

Likes to run her hands over your slick-as-velvet head after you get your hair cut real short.

Calls you “baby.”

Tells you she gets turned on when you wear that ball cap backward. You know the one.

Likes when your necktie matches her dress.

Rubs your back when you’ve pulled a muscle.

Thinks every flannel shirt you own makes your eyes shine.

Is okay with you wearing your “dressy” T-shirt to that event you’re going to.

Tells you you’re cute and you believe it, even though you’ve never felt cute a day in your life.

Is the yin to your yang.

Asks you what you’d like her to wear when you’re going out on a date.

Still flirts with you regardless of the fact that you’ve been together for more than a decade.

Traces your scars (the ones you can see and the ones you can’t) with her fingertips when you’re lying in bed at night.

Makes you feel like a rockstar, even though you don’t play any instruments.

Tells you your tattoos are sexy.

Appreciates the hell out of you. Not despite those things that make you you but because of them.

 

March madness

March was a crazy month.

I turned 50. Which means I’m vintage.

I got my AARP card, which I thought would make me super-sexy in W’s eyes. “She’ll have the Grand Slam,” I imagined me ordering for her at Denny’s and scoring points, as well as a sweet 15 percent discount. She just looked at me weird when I flashed the shiny red card at her.

I had a fun party that W put together with all of my friends and a top-of-the-line party bus that only played 80s music (including that Georgia Satellites song I love) and made stops at a local concert AND Victory Brewing.

IMG_7015

No real flannel shirts were harmed in the making of this cake.

W had a custom cake made for me in the shape of a flannel shirt.

I got tons of loot. Notebooks and pens and wine and beer and gift cards for books. All of my favorite things.

I wore my new sneakers. Puma classics, black suede. So sweeeeet.

There’s more. On the night of my birthday, W gave me a bunch of little presents. We aren’t big gift givers, and I knew she was throwing me a birthday bash, so I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a new necktie, a book, something emblazoned with the Wonder Woman logo.

IMG_1018

I misspelled Seattle during the recreation.

She had created a handmade Scrabble board. Each box contained a set of Scrabble tiles. The tiles spelled out: TICKETS, SEATTLE, ALASKA, OLIVIA.

I don’t have a big bucket list. Just a few things I want to do, a few places I want to see. I’ve always wanted to spend a few days in Seattle. Take a cruise to Alaska. And go on an Olivia Cruise.

W had started planning all of this last summer without me suspecting a thing.

At the end of June, we are flying to Seattle for a few days. We’ll be there for Seattle Pride, and we already have reservations for brunch in the Space Needle. In Seattle, we’ll be boarding an Olivia cruise ship and setting sail for Alaska.

“It’s too much,” I said for much of March with a giant grin on my face.

There’s a part of me that still thinks it’s too much. Too expensive. Too extravagant. And that I’m not worthy.

I’ve been trying to silence those voices and be grateful. Grateful for being able to cross things off my bucket list. Grateful for an adventure, something to look forward to. Grateful for a cruise on a luxury liner filled with lesbians.

But mostly grateful for a wife who so carefully planned a special birthday and a trip of a lifetime for me.

It’s hard to be on this side of love. The receiving side.

But I’m trying.

So far, 50 is like a new pair of sneakers. Pretty sweet.

Light and love

Just this for today:

“Don’t be oppositional, be transformational. Don’t let them bait you or scare you. Don’t react to the darkness, just respond with the light.”

— Marianne Williamson

A funny thing happened on the way to the march

W and I drove to Baltimore today. We are staying in Baltimore tonight and leaving for Washington, D.C., super early.

After we walked around the city for a bit, we went out to dinner at a nice Italian place.

The waiter spotted the safety pin on W’s shirt and started up a conversation.

W tells him we are going to the march tomorrow.

Before we know it, he is telling us about his partner of 25 years and how today’s inauguration has left him heartbroken.

“Us, too,” we say.

As he waits on us, he occasionally sits down and asks us questions and shares bits of his life with us.

“Tell him your analogy,” W says.

“She works with cancer patients,” I say. “Donald Trump becoming President reminds me of these stories she tells about people having these weird accidents and breaking an arm or a leg. When they get a scan, the doctors find a tumor. The broken arm or leg ends up being a blessing in disguise because it’s revealed the cancer. It’s brought all of the problems to the surface so they can be cured.”

“That’s one way of seeing the good in things,” he says.

“If it wasn’t for all of the bad stuff going on, we wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” W says.

The three of us nod our heads.

As the waiter brings us our meals, he slips us an extra carafe of Chianti and then another.

My wine glass is full as I eat my eggplant parmesan. And as I wipe up every last bit of sauce with bread.

“Maybe all of this Trump stuff isn’t so bad after all,” I say to W as I drink my wine.

“Maybe Trump was right,” I add. “It’s day one and he’s already made America great.”

I salute her with my glass of wine. My full glass of free wine. Free wine scores huge points in my world. Bigly huge.

“I wonder if we’ll have free wine every night for the next four years?” I ponder out loud.

At this point, I am pretty buzzed.

And then the wine is gone.

And we pay our bill.

The waiter hands us a brown paper bag containing a hunk of tiramisu and a cannoli. Free Italian desserts. As if the night couldn’t get any better.

We say our goodbyes. W hugs the waiter because she’s a hugger and gives him her safety pin. I wave like the queen of some foreign country because I am weird and aloof.

And as we walk out of the restaurant, I think that we’ll be okay. No, I know in my heart that we’ll be okay.

We aren’t alone. We have each other. 

And now we have a reason to reach out to each other, talk to each other, comfort each other.

Plus, free wine and dessert.

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?