Tag Archives: relationships

Moonbeams

images[8]“You’re not drawing me,” W says. She says it in an innocent way with her eyes wide and bright and a bit of a grin starting on one side of her face. She says it as if she’s daring me to sketch her there in the June sunlight.

I’m sitting on a folding chair with my little red Moleskine notebook and my silver astronaut pen. I’m pretending to sketch her as she sits on a folding chair across from me.

“Of course I’m not drawing you,” I say. “I’m a writer, not a drawer.”

“Draw me with words,” she says.

“Okay,” I say.

We are at a yoga/wellness festival with our prayer flag for Orlando.

“You’ll love it,” I had told her. “You’ll feel at home with all the other hippies.”

“Maybe I’ll go full-on hippie on you some day. With dreadlocks, the whole deal.”

She says it like it’s a deal breaker. Like I will stop loving her with dreadlocks and bare feet that peek out from the bottom of her flowy tie-dye skirts. Like I will stop loving her with hairy legs and armpits and the scent of patchouli following behind her like a puppy.

“Don’t you know I don’t love you because of your hair?” I say.

What I don’t tell her is that I love her hair. The way it is long and brown with a few strands of silver that look like they were sliced from the moon.

It is the best part of her. The outside part that shows her inside light.

I don’t tell her I know her secret: Her heart is the moon. That’s why she has moonbeam hair.

Instead, I tell her I don’t love her because of her hair.

 

 

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Silent partners

One of our kids was in a serious bicycle crash almost two weeks ago. He spent a week in the hospital. W stayed with him around the clock.

“You make him feel safe,” I told her.

I visited each day.

He was home for a few days but had a setback and is back in the hospital for at least another week. W is by his side.

Once again, I am making a daily trek to the hospital.

W sends me a list of what to bring that day: nail clippers, a travel-size bottle of shampoo from the top of her dresser, Advil.

I usually visit late afternoon and stay until it starts to get dark outside. I run out for whatever the kid wants. It is always sweet tea and something else. Today it was a single glazed donut. I tell him I am going to buy him a Smashburger with cheese and bacon and a Nutter Butter milkshake when he feels better.

W and I sit on the couch in his room.

“What’s new?” I ask.

She gives me the update.

“What’s new with you?” she asks.

I tell her what’s happening at home.

We eat take-out for dinner.

We watch silly videos about Prince beating Jimmy Fallon at ping pong and cats doing silly cat things.

We stare at our phones.

Sometimes I bring the newspaper or a magazine to read.

But mostly we sit without speaking. I might squeeze her hand or rub her back to remind her I am here. That I will always be here, especially in times like these.

I think of our cats at home. The two brothers who silently sit on the pink blanket on top of the washer to watch the birds or on the bed to take a nap or in the window to warm in the sun …

And I remember how lucky I am to have W by my side as life storms by.

 

Pinterest, you just don’t get this butch

Me and W in bed last night:

Me: Jeez, Pinterest doesn’t know me at all. It keeps sending me links to boards I’m not interested in.

W: Like what?

Me: Haute couture. Landscape architecture. Hair braiding. Math.

W: (laughs) Pinterest can’t figure you out. It’s because you’re weird.

Me: I take great offense!

W: At what? That you like to look at weird things?

For the next 15 minutes, we pretend fight. And I pretend to not talk to W. But, channeling my 16-year-old self, make huffing noises in the background.

Me: Oh my God! Pinterest just sent me 15 lactation boosting recipes. 

W: (laughs) It’s probably because you like boobs so much.

Me: I like them, but I don’t want them. You know, I don’t have a Pinterest boobs board. 

W: You don’t?

Me: Not yet.

 

Queen of my heart

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.

Queen of heartsI 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.

Like when the Grinch's small heart grew three times that day.

Like when the Grinch’s small heart grew three times that day.

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.

Show a butch some love

I appreciate youI read somewhere that International Butch Appreciation Day was earlier this week.

“I’m mad at you,” I jokingly told W.  “No card. No nothing.”

“In this house, everyday is Butch Appreciation Day,” she said.

“Touché,” I said.

Because it’s true.

It’s good to be the butch.

Femme Friday

Rainbow heartSo said the butch. And so it was.

Thank you for:

* Curves like a stainless steel rollercoaster track.

* Calling me “Baby.”

* Telling me I’m beautiful. And handsome.

* Singing “Ring of Keys” in the shower.

* Complimenting me on my necktie when we are out on a date.

* Allowing me to open the door for you, even though it’s the 21st century and you are a modern, self-sufficient woman.

* Letting me carry your bags, even though you could easily do so yourself.

* Escorting me to the ladies’ room when I feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

* Asking me what I’d like you to wear, even though you look divine in everything.

* Wearing all that silver jewelry that makes you sparkle like stardust.

* Buying another skirt with a long slit down the side.

* * *

Your turn.  When it comes to your girl (or boi), what are you thankful for?

Becoming me, un-becoming other stuff

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.  Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

— Unknown

I scribbled this quote on a post-it note a few months ago.  It struck a chord and then got buried in the pile of paper that lives on my desk.

Blank slateI used to think we are all blank slates at birth and that life writes on those slates with chalk and Sharpie markers and spray paint and whatever other art supplies the universe has at the ready.

Now, I’m pretty sure we start out as fully formed works of art buried in blocks of marble.  Life is all about chipping away at that block until we are revealed, perfect, beautiful, glorious.  The way we had been all along.

Yesterday for Mother’s Day, I bought my mom a white mug that simply stated, “You Are a Good Mom.”

I wanted her to know that.  I wanted to tell her sorry for being such a difficult kid.  A moody child.  A girl who was perhaps more boy and who came without instructions.  (P.S. There was no mug that said all that.  Stupid Hallmark.)

I know my mother did the best she could trying to mold me into a respectable young lady.  Some 30 years later, I am still trying to undo all of her well-intentioned doing.

I know I am a challenge.

Climbing fencesIn my wedding vows, I quoted the Melissa Etheridge line: “You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”

W commented the other night that she wasn’t doing so well climbing those fences.  (Yes, Glitter-Gate reared its sparkly head once again.  You can read about that here and here.)

“You know it’s me, not you, right?” I asked.

She nodded her head.  She wasn’t didn’t seem convinced.

I try not to apologize for being me.

But I am still difficult and moody.

And there is no rulebook for loving a girl who is perhaps more boy.

Finding love

W texted me from work yesterday afternoon.

“Can we have the same thing for dinner that we had last night?”

“Um, I think so,” I text back.

It is not a difficult meal to prepare.  Breaded chicken tenders, noodles with butter and parmesan, and corn.

Imagine a butcher version

Me, only butchier.

W is struggling with some things these days, so I do what I can to make things easy for her.  I try to have dinner ready when she comes home.  I try to have the house picked up and food in the fridge.  I buy her cards and write her notes and sneak a piece of chocolate in her lunch.  Cooking chicken tenders two days in a row really isn’t a big deal.

When W comes home, I am in the kitchen finishing up dinner.

“Thank you for finding me,” she says.

Online datingShe says it all the time.  It’s a reference to how we met on match.com.  I was the one who sent her a note.  I was the one who found her.

“Someone has to take care of you,” I say.

“I know,” she replies.

W tells me how lucky she is to have me in her life.   The women she works with always tell her they need a Middle-age Butch to do all of the things I do.  Someone to pack their lunches, cook their dinners, pick up their prescriptions, do their grocery shopping.

I am not available.  I am a one-woman woman.

I remind W that she does lots of things for me.

She disagrees.

“It just looks different,” I tell her.

W is the breadwinner.  Because she works so hard, I am able to work from home and take care of things like lunches and dinners and errands.

Foam fingerShe is my biggest fan.  She loves everything I write.  This writer with low self-esteem needs to have her ego stroked.  Often.  Like a giant, needy cat.  Without W’s encouragement, there would be no finished book.

She loves telling people about my book.  I tell her not to make such a big fuss, but inside I light up like a firework.

She tells me I’m cute.  All the time.  Sometimes I even believe her.  She tells me I’m the world’s best lesbian.  But then we all knew that already.

W is the adventurer.  She drags me along on her excursions.  I plant the heels of my Dr. Marten’s in the mud and make things difficult.  But I am always glad to have ventured out and seen the world through her eyes.

She makes me giggle.  If you tell anyone, I’ll only deny it.  And then poke you with a sharp pokey object.

Moths in candlelightShe is the love and light in our house.  The rest of us are just moths.

The things I do can be calculated in monetary terms.  How much would you pay someone to cook your dinner or do your grocery shopping?

But W’s contributions are priceless.  To help a person believe she is a rock star like Joan Jett or Melissa Etheridge and can achieve her dreams is an invaluable skill and service.

It happens.  Sometimes.  When the stars align.  And you find the right person and fall in love.

Getting ready for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here.

I am a romantic at heart.  I am like Elizabeth Barrett Browning in flannel.

I am a traditionalist.  I am like the Rick Santorum  of gift giving.  Roses.  Chocolates.  One of those fancy greeting cards with the word “Wife” embossed in gold and sprawled across the front in cursive letters.  Maybe a poem or a special note if the muse is present.

I am a planner.  I am like a survivalist when it comes to gifts.  I look for little gifts and trinkets throughout the year.  Things I think W or the kids might like.  I buy them and place them in my gift stash located in the basket on the bottom shelf of my closet.

xx

Shhh …

I am sneaky.  I am like Sylvester the cat trying to catch that poor old canary.  If W and I are out shopping and she points out something she likes, I make a mental note.  I’ll go back when she’s not with me, buy the item and save it for later.

The first Valentine’s Day that W and I were together, I gave her a big basket filled with books, CDs, DVDs, candy, coffee …  It was like she had won one of those basket raffles.  Or a gift horse had just thrown up all over my apartment.  I was in full-on wooing mode.

But this Valentine’s Day, I won’t be pulling out all the stops.  We have all three kids.  And W has been in a funk.  I’m pretty sure she won’t be up for a full-on Valentine’s day celebration.

And that’s ok.

Will you go see Kinky Boots with me?

Will you go see Kinky Boots with me?

We are at that point in our relationship where we celebrate occasions in a clump.  We are going to New York City at the end of March to see Kinky Boots on Broadway, and that will be our Christmas/Valentine’s Day/my birthday celebration all rolled into one.  We keep the fires of romance burning with these little getaways once or twice a year.  It’s like injecting our relationship with a shot of testosterone but without the facial hair.

On Valentine’s Day, I will give the kids and W candy from a little chocolate shop down the street.  I like to support our local businesses.  Two of the kids like these thin patties of caramel covered in milk chocolate.  The other one prefers dark chocolate-covered cherries.  W loves their milk chocolate salted caramels.  I’ll hand out a few other surprises and call it a day.

Our relationship is solid, so there’s no need to buy or persuade or prove with gifts.

I have tried to provide W with a soft place to fall while she sorts things out.

Patience is quiet.

So is love.

Those are the gifts I offer this year.

I have a desk

xx

I have a cat who naps on my old library desk where I write.  This is one of my favorite pictures.

I have an old library desk where I write.

I have words swimming in my head.  These are some of my favorites — bric-a-brac, innocuous, innuendo, ubiquitous, kismet, juxtaposition.

I have notebooks: big ones and little ones and a million scraps of paper that I use to record my thoughts.  Once when I couldn’t find something, W pointed out that I save everything.  I couldn’t tell if this was a criticism or a compliment.

I have a king-sized bed covered in flannel sheets.  It is warm and soft and inviting.

I have books and magazines and newspapers.  When I am in bed, I surround myself with them.  It is a fortress made of paper and words.

I have pens and markers that I use to make notes and jot down ideas.  At night, the paper and  pens get mixed in with the sheets and the blankets and our slumbering bodies.  I tell W this is what happens when you live with a writer.

I have dreams.  Good ones and bad ones that I remember in snippets.  I try to write them down, but I am almost always too late.

I have good intentions to empty my brain every day and transfer my thoughts to clean sheets of paper.  It never works out the way I had planned.  Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it is not.

I have writing that I am proud of.  My pieces always seem different when they are in print.  More important and truer for some unknown reason.  When I’m alone, I read them out loud and wonder who that person was who wrote like that.

* * *

I wrote this from a prompt in my writing group.  The assignment was to write a list poem starting each line with the words “I have” similar to the poem I have a horse by Tomaž Šalamun. You can read the poem here.  Try it yourself.

Recently, I had a piece published in an LGBT anthology.  Off the Rocks, Volume 18 can be purchased here.