Four years ago today, W and I had a commitment ceremony.
Because that’s what gays and lesbians did in 2011 before marriage equality.
I just read the vows that I wrote the morning of our ceremony. Leave it to a writer to sneak in right before deadline.
I ended my vows with a story that my grandfather used to tell. He said that when he married my grandmother, she told him that she would treat him like a king if he treated her like a queen. After she died, he confessed that he never did live up to his promise.
Those are perhaps impossible standards to place on any relationship.
There’s a saying and a matching bumper sticker: Chivalry isn’t dead … She’s a butch.
That’s always been my ideal. Not just because I think all women should be treated like queens. But because I derive pleasure from being the knight in shining armor, the butch in a pair of blue jeans and tie, opening doors, pumping gas, sending flowers, tucking love notes in her lunch.
These are the vows that I made to W four years ago:
- I promise to be your friend, to stand by your side in good times and in bad. To always listen and be your soft place to fall. And, to giggle with you at night, when no one else can hear.
- I promise to love you just the way you are right at this very minute. To love all the things that make you special — the good, the not-so-good and everything in between.
- I promise to encourage you to reach for your dreams.
- I promise to always be caring, understanding and forgiving. To never judge you but to just love you with my whole heart.
- And, last but not least, I promise to be your partner as we navigate life’s challenges together. Kids, work, bi-focals, the Phillies play-off tension …
I don’t know if I’ve made good on all of these over the past four years.
But I do know that we are best friends. That we both look forward to the end of the work day when we can share our days with each other. That we giggle a lot. Ok, ok, it’s mostly me. (If a butch giggles and no one hears her except her wife, does she really giggle?) That we love each other not despite our foibles and faults but because of them. I love that W is bold and impatient and that the window glass shakes a little bit when she sneezes.
Sometimes I love her so much that I feel like my heart will burst. This usually happens when she doesn’t know that I am looking at her like when she is falling asleep on my shoulder or preoccupied with some task. But then I remember that I pass out when I see blood and reign it all in.
Other times, I get so caught up in my own stuff that I forget she might need care and understanding at this very moment, too. But that is that nature of relationships. When we are loved, we learn how to love. When we are forgiven, we learn how to forgive.