So much has changed since the last time I wrote earlier this year, but what hasn’t changed is that things are equally intense, confusing, shifting, painful, growthful. ML and I broke up in April and it has been freeing and devastating both at the same time. What was clear to me was that I was forgetting about me, about myself, about how to take care of myself and how to make decisions for myself, and I felt, inside, like I was failing her all the time because I also loved someone else and because I knew that that hurt her and I knew that she didn’t really want to have that kind of relationship even though she went back and forth on whether she would be willing to try or not. I blamed myself for falling in love with J even as it also felt unstoppable. ML never blamed me, she was so kind and still insists that it went both ways, that we both failed each other in different ways, and although there were things that she did or ways that she was in our relationship that made it hard to feel like I was growing, it is still hard for me not to feel like the failure was mostly mine, that I could have and should have done things differently. And while it’s not totally clear yet that we are done for good, this break that we are on has been excruciating and hollowing, and has also been good for me because it is pointing out in glaring neon flashing signals the places where I need to figure shit out and the places where I was unhealthily leaning on her for my well-being. For example: I don’t take care of myself for my own sake. I forget to cook and eat, I let my to do list grow and grow without checking things off of it, I isolate and stay in bed and do nothing. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted about depression here but I think that what happened was that in that relationship I eventually forgot to keep cultivating my own ways of coping with my mind and now that it’s just me again I’m like, oh, right, this, I need to deal with this.
I think it’s also been a difficult time mentally because of the ten-year mark of my rape and that I haven’t ever had any kind of therapy for that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify to myself any longer. I need to start doing that work. I need to be able to face the world on my own without falling apart just from mild exposure and I need to be my own care-taker. During high school I was just getting by. Early in college I was figuring out how to have friends again after having isolated myself during high school, and I was studiously repressing any complicated shit out of fear of, what, being too much maybe? And then I had my first major relationship and then pretty soon after that got together with ML and in both of those relationships I think I lost myself in some small way, or I oriented myself more towards the other person and derived my sense of self from them, or I prioritized the health of the relationship over my own health and didn’t quite grasp the connection between the two. And that’s just not working, that’s not healthy and I don’t want to continue that way. I need to ground myself in my own body, feel my own emotions from within, and care about making healthy choices for my own sake and not someone else’s. And I think that what comes up most for me in realizing this is that, all along I think I’ve internalized this sense of not being entitled to take care of myself kindly and lovingly. I feel faintly embarrassed as I type that, uncomfortable with that acknowledgement, and it sounds absolutely idiotic. But I think there’s truth in it, that I measure my value according to how useful I can be to someone else, how loved I can be by someone else. And I reject that! And I need to be careful with myself, moving forward, and make sure that whatever relationships I have, I am in touch with my own desires, capacities, priorities, goals. And the messiness of the past six months of my life (personally, medically, financially, logistically) shows that when things get complicated I’m not super in touch.
I left my job in May and have been taking time off (until the beginning of August) to do various travels. I went to Cincinnati in May for a week for a conference, and then I went to Texas for two and a half weeks to do political organizing work/research at an army base. Now I am heading to New York and Boston for two weeks and then Berlin with several friends until the end of July. I’m hoping to clear my head, spend a lot of time with friends and equally important time by myself, and come back to the bay area in August ready to move forward, whether it’s going back to my old job or finding a new one altogether. I’ve been semi-seriously considering nannying; I’ve been watching a few children this year and I just love them, I love them so much. On the other hand, the benefits of an office job are appealing too. Or something else altogether…
I got a pink triangle stick and poke from a few friends a few days before Pride (which was this past weekend). I don’t have any other tattoos. It’s right under my left collarbone, just above my heart, and under the triangle now is a yellow-purple bruise the size of a sand dollar. Who bruises from getting a stick and poke tattoo?!
What else do I want to say? I feel like I have SO much to talk about and I don’t even know how to start.
I know it’s been awfully quiet around here and I’m so grateful to have this space to report back to when I can, when it feels okay. Thank you for being around.
Gulp, it’s already the middle of January… whooops. Classes start on Tuesday, and I’ve been working and catching up with various friends the past week and a half since getting back from the east coast. Also trying to get in a lot of pleasure reading, since my books for this semester have started tumbling in and it’s veeeery clear to me that I will not have any time to read things of my own choosing this semester! So. Many. Books. ANyway, last year at the beginning of January I did a sort of year-in-review and some intentions for the coming year, and I decided to revisit that this year and see where I was last year, whether I did the things I’d been planning to do, and then look ahead to this coming year.
From last year’s post:
[I]n 2010, I hope to:
- continue to fall in love and deepen my relationship with ML. I’m looking forward to more great sex, more power play, even better communication as we learn each other through and through and more and more, mini-retreats (that hopefully won’t be too expensive), accompanying her to her sister’s wedding where she’ll be outing herself to all of her extended family and family friends, and maybe even moving in together (!) (but we’ll wait to see what my grad school plans are before we really talk about that seriously).
Well, I certainly had a functioning crystal ball on this one; this has all happened, and more! We’ve really fallen in cozy with each other, in a good way — we have had very few big fights this year, and the fighting has gotten easier as lurking questions like “will she leave me over this?” have faded away. While the frequency of our sex has decreased somewhat, it’s still great, and we did do some interesting work with power play this year. Mini-retreats… we went on a few I think? We went to Palm Springs in March for her birthday, and to Cazadero for Thanksgiving… That might be it. But two per year might be enough given our busy lives. Her sister’s wedding in August was lovely if also somewhat challenging, and I felt a bond with her through and after that that I describe in that post. AND, we moved in together! At the beginning of June. So we’ve been living together now for seven+ months and it’s fantastic. We both have such busy independent lives but we almost always manage to end the day together, in bed, with a bit of time before we have to go to sleep.
- start graduate school (speaking of).
And ever! I started the MA degree program in anthropology at CIIS here in San Francisco, and it’s got to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I fucking love it. I can’t wait for classes to start next week (even if it does mean less time for pleasure reading…).
- leave my job (which should be concurrent with grad school, but in case I don’t get into any of the programs I’m hoping to enroll in, I STILL would like to leave my job).
Yup, I left my job at the end of May, and continued to work somewhat part-time during the summer but with very flexible hours. The summer was nice, I had a lot of time to cook and plan and read and think and do fun stuff… but I was also ready for it to be over when it was over. Too much of a good thing :)
- continue to take care of myself and be strong enough to seek help in taking care of myself, from medication and therapy, but also from intellectual, spiritual, and physical mentors, as well as friends and family.
I think that this past year, especially this fall, I have really figured out how to be at my mental and emotional best: be busy with things that I care about. It was really that simple. As soon as I started graduate school, so much of my stress and anxiety and existential ennui and co-dependency tendencies just … started to evaporate. I’m doing my thing, and it feels right.
- come out to my grandparents. There. I said it. I made it a goal.
Uh. Whoops. I forgot that I’d made that an intention this past year. We’ll see if it happens this year. I’d love to make it an intention. Problem is my grandma’s in early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I’m just not sure what coming out to them at this point would accomplish. But it’s a possibility.
- continue to write here and use it as a platform for airing my relationship-, life-, and self-processing, and continue to strengthen my internet bonds.
I did continue to write here, although with less frequency. As I’ve said before, that’s been for lack of time, not lack of motivation. But I’m still here, and I hope to figure out a way to write weekly.
So, you see, I did alright in 2010. As for 2011, I’ve got some intentions for the record as well:
- continue to fully invest myself in graduate school, worrying less about social aspects of it (which totally have been falling into place) and knowing that the more I bring myself fully to the table there, the more things will continue to open up for me. This year I’ll have to figure out a practicum and a research focus, so one of my intentions here is to think that through and carefully weigh my options. And also, I want to start ironing out post-MA plans: Ph.D.? Here, or elsewhere? Work? I’ll be meeting with my academic advisor early this semester to start talking about that.
- continue to prioritize friendships and relationships both in my graduate program and outside of it. I adore my grad school cohort.
- with ML, continue to communicate well, to set aside time to do fun things together, to leave San Francisco every so often for a breath of fresh air, to love her and appreciate her with intention. We also want to continue to grow and expand our sexual life, and though we’re not quite sure yet what that’s going to look like, we’ve got some hopes and intentions: set aside time and boundaries to work more with power play, specifically with figuring out a way for her to push through topping insecurities and me to push through subbing insecurities; push more against boundaries of monogamy/non-monogamy, and play with how we can approach those explorations as a team and make it something fun for both of us; go to sex/play parties and increasingly take our sex life out of just our own private and exclusive domain. Very excited about all of that, and I imagine I will be writing about all of that at times throughout the year.
- travel at least once out of the country. I will have so many opportunities for that this year: my sister is living in Vienna, and wants me to visit this summer and travel to Poland and Croatia with her. One of my best friends is getting married in Paris in August. And another mutual friend of ML’s and mine is getting married in Japan in the fall. Not to mention, I would love to get back to Germany, Berlin specifically, and then there’s always the possibility that my master’s work will take me out of the country too…
I think that’s a pretty good list of intentions for this year. Of course there will be surprises too, and that’s as it should be. But I will just state for the record: I am excited about this year. And I intend to continue to make this space somehow a part of it all.
Happy New Year <3 xoxo AF
PS: I will be doing a pin-up modeling shoot in a few weeks. I’m thinking I might share some photos… :)
ML flew back to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, and I’m still here on the east coast, flying back tomorrow. That means she’s spending three nights there without me. Here are a series of texts I woke up to on New Year’s Day, received from her in the middle of the night:
ML: I miss you it’s so hard to be in our house and bed without you. It doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t have the same life. Can’t wait until you come home.
And then, two minutes later:
ML: The only thing that is fun is getting to leave my clothes on the floor.
…Gives you a little insight into our relationship, dunnit? ;)
Yesterday, ML and I celebrated having been together for two years. Two years! It’s so strange to think about that. Two years was about how long my previous relationship was (two years and a month, actually, to be precise), and that one was starting to crumble well before the two-year mark. And here we are, rock solid, living together, supporting each other through our respective endeavors, fucking our way through our busy lives :)
I wrote her a letter yesterday, a love letter I guess, and emailed it to her. It’s not particularly poetic or articulate, but it’s the way I feel I guess.
I thought of writing you a handwritten letter but I know handwritten stuff is something that I’m more attached to than you are… and typing is easier than writing, anyway ;) And I don’t know if this is supposed to be a love letter, or what, but I knew that I wanted to write something for you today, it being two years now that we’ve been together and all. I can’t believe it’s been two years already; two years and this is still the best relationship I’ve ever been in and it still feels rock solid and I increasingly can’t imagine my life without you. It’s scary, you know, but there’s something so comforting and expansive about it too. Expansive meaning, I don’t know, that it just doesn’t feel constrictive to me. Some people talk about feeling stuck in long-term relationships but to me it feels like the opposite, it feels like I’ve got something that enables me to live my life more fully and supports me along the way. You do that for me. You make me feel loved and supported and unconditionally appreciated and all of that has helped me become a more confident, more loving and trusting, more self-aware person. And you? I love your clutter, I love how your mind that utterly baffles me is able to focus so intently on what you’re passionate about and care for, I love how you look at me with your big, dark eyes and how you fall asleep with your body pressed into mine. I love that you try so hard to accommodate my tidy streak, and I love that you remind me–daily–that a bit of mess is perfectly ok. I love that you let me cook for you and fret over you, and I love how you indulge my weird whims. I love your body, your skin, your posture, your head tilting to accommodate your hair, your smile. You’re so fucking beautiful. I love your music and how much you want it, how it drives you. I love how loyal you are and loving, not just to me but to everyone. You’re so patient with me and kind and I couldn’t be in better hands. You really take care of me, you make me feel beautiful. I love you, baby, I am so incredulous that here we are two years in, no signs of stopping. Here’s to two more, and then some :) Love, me
During the day yesterday, she sent me an email telling me to meet her at 7:45pm at 2695 Mission Street, but I wasn’t to look up what it was, just show up there. So I did, and as soon as I hit the block I knew where she was taking me — the Mission Bar, where we met. It was so sweet. She had flowers for me — not roses, since that’s cliched, but pretty wine-red flowers (I’m horrible with plant names). And then we went and got dinner at this Turkish restaurant on Guerrero, which was yummy and supplied ample leftovers for lunch today. And, of course, we had sex. I *almost* didn’t let her actually fuck me, in the spirit of the anniversary and all, since two years ago, the first time we hooked up, I wouldn’t let her get any further than the waistline of my pants (though I did assure her at the time that I was sopping wet ;) ), but in the end I gave in. After *much* persuasion ;)
I’m still here, you guys, promise. I know I’ve been hardly around, I’m still trying to navigate my time with a new job plus school and it’s hard!!!! But I have no plans to abandon this space. Just be patient :)
Last week, ML and I fought almost every night before sleeping, a result I think of generally feeling somewhat disconnected from each other. I know that most (if not all) relationships have an ebbing and flowing of connection, meaning that there are times we’ll be super connected to each other, in sync, in tune, responsive… and there are times we’ll be not so in sync, operating on different frequencies, different schedules, preoccupied with other shit in our lives, and for us, lately has been one of those times. Clearly, we’re both busy: she with work, with her band releasing its demo and playing shows and rehearsing a lot, with working on compositions for her graduate school applications, with music biz networking; me with grad school, with work part-time at the law firm, with crisis center work. We’ve had house guests two weekends in a row, with more this weekend and the following weekend. So it’s not all that shocking that we’re both wrapped up in stuff other than each other, and initially I was mostly okay with what I knew to be a temporary “ebb.”
But as the fights have gotten worse and the effects of them more lingering (tired the next day, crankier, short with each other), I’ve been starting to feel insecure. Disconnect tends to make me feel insecure in general, and though I do feel okay with temporary ebbs, as they draw out past a week, anxiety starts creeping in and I start to feel weepy and clingy (in addition to feeling distracted and cranky and disconnected)… Not a great combo. And that’s when the fighting starts to escalate. It’s really not fun. We’re going to bed, I, in my hypersensitive-to-everything-she-does state, feel anxious that she’s far away, ask her if she loves me or something equally vague and annoying, she gets frustrated and defensive, I get upset, she gets mega-bitchy, I get worked up in a frothy tearing mess, she gets even more frustrated and defensive, and we both start accusing each other of ”always doing this” and “why can’t you blah blah” and yeah, it’s ugly. And increasingly we’ve both been getting worried about what-the-hell-is-up with us.
And then Saturday night we figured it out.
A few weeks ago, ML was diagnosed with carpal tunnel. She works too much, at a job she really dislikes, in a field she can’t stomach, and in a high-stress environment that is taking its toll on her body. She’s committed to getting out by next summer (she’s applying to MFA programs for music/composition), but in the meantime, she’s having to deal with carpal tunnel and try as best she can to keep it in check. She ices it several times a day, has various stretches that she does, is starting physical therapy, sleeps on her back with her arm raised…
SLEEPS ON HER BACK. She sleeps on her back. Which means that we get into bed, turn out the light, kiss good night, and then lie there on our separate sides of the bed, maybe shoulders touching and hands brushing against each other but that’s about it and that’s supposed to be enough contact to get us through the night? Yeah, right. The entire almost-two-years we’ve been together, we’ve slept (or at least started off sleeping) in Sleep Position: her big spoon to my little, pressed up against and curled into each other, hearts beating front-to-back, her breath light on my shoulder and her arm wrapped around me. No matter what we’d been up to in our separate daily lives, we ended the day by curling up together close, connecting our bodies as we drifted off to sleep. Sleep Position brings us together, (re-)connects us.
It was two and a half weeks ago that she was diagnosed and that dates back to exactly when I started feeling the disconnect expanding, my wakefulness at night thinking “where is she? what’s going on? why does she feel so far away?” And Saturday night, after the worst fight all week, when we were both tearfully apologizing to each other, accepting our own responsibility in the fight, messily trying to articulate what it was that we thought was going on for each of us, she said “I think it’s Sleep Position. I feel far away from you at night rather than close to you.” And I knew right away that she was right. I was so relieved, relieved that she’d hit on it, relieved that she felt the same way I did, relieved that there was a reason that was so simple and a solution so simple: “We can just start out in Sleep Position,” she said, “we don’t stay in it all night anyway, and I’m sure 20 minutes of being on my side won’t hurt my arm.”
Obviously, lacking Sleep Position wasn’t the only source of our disconnecting over the past few weeks. I’ve already laid out the real main sources: being busy, stressed, and um can I reiterate busy and stressed? But not closing out the day being physically close to each other in a way that has come, through time, to also be symbolic of emotional closeness was taking its toll. So Saturday night and then last night too we curled up together, two spoons, to fall asleep. And you know what? It was that simple.
Since my previous post was written last night when I was sleepy, I just wanted to add a few more things about my submission fantasy.
1) I do not want to be a full-time submissive. This submission dynamic is one that I want to have very specific and clearly articulated parameters (such as “this will start when we wake up on Wednesday morning and will end when we fall asleep on Wednesday night”). It’s a dynamic that I’m very, very interested in and drawn to exploring, but not one that I crave or need in my relationship all the time.
2) The main reason why I think I’m compelled to this kind of dynamic is (and I’ve touched on this before in previous posts) that in most of my daily life, I’m kind of a control freak. I keep track of most everything related to our home (when to clean, whose turn it is to do what, whose toothbrush is whose (seriously!), writing the rent check, etc.). This is not because ML can’t do it, though keeping track of things is certainly not her strong suit, but because I do it naturally. My brain is always on, scampering around, picking up loose ends and tucking them away, managing lots of little things (and big things) and snapping mental photos of things left and right. It’s what I do. But I’m increasingly craving an anti-dote to that, a space when my brain can relax and let someone else do the thinking for me and above all trust that I’ll be okay by letting go. To me, the pull to that allowing that kind of dynamic into my relationship feels erotic as well as therapeutic.
3) ML was totally receptive to giving my submission fantasy a shot, although she did express a few doubts, mostly about her ability to know whether she’s doing the right thing or not. What I somehow want to enter into the dynamic, and maybe it has to happen organically (as opposed to just me trying to explain it to her), is for her to not be thinking in those terms of “will she like this? is this the right thing?” and rather be assured and confident and all-enveloping. Attentive to me, yes, and checking in with me, absolutely. But I don’t want to be in a state of mind of having to think about “is this what I want? is she doing it right?” and would rather be in an absolutely trusting and relaxing mental space. Submission.
Any ideas on how to work on that together? Exercises to slowly bring that in? Scenarios to role-play to begin to feel comfortable? Porn to watch that we could mimic?
Shanna of Essin’ Em fame has been here the past few days, crashing on our couch (actually, our featherbed) while in town for the Folsom Street Fair. And because Shanna is so very Shanna, we have ended up talking a lot about sex (as well as things like front shops and cats and what vegetables we’d be if we were vegetables) — and last night (or was it Saturday night?) she ended up more or less facilitating a conversation about fantasies between ML and me. (If you ever are in need of a sex therapist, I think Shanna should be charging for it.) Now, I wouldn’t say ML and I have ever thought we needed a sex therapist, or have even ever been dissatisfied with our sex life. We have a rather robust sex life, actually, and when we’re healthy and not travelling, we generally fuck 3-5 times a week. Some of those times, to be sure, are nighttime quickies, but many of them are also middle-of-the-afternoon-because-we’re-horny fuckfests. And we’ve sort of vaguely talked about things we’d like to do sometime, but then “sometime” tends not to materialize because, you know, life happens.
So, sex is good. But somehow, with Shanna (who also lives at ShannaKatz.com, by the way), we ended up articulating fairly clearly and specifically (through her pointed and guiding questions) what we’d each most like to explore. I thought I’d share mine.
Imagine that we live in a foreign world and you speak the language but I don’t. This means that you have to be my guide through the world, taking me under your wing and being my voice. Imagine we’re in a restaurant and I can’t read the menu — but because the cuisine is so different from what I’m familiar with you can’t really translate it for me in a way I would understand either. So, instead, you order for me, and I trust you utterly to order with care and absolute attention to my mind and body. Because you know me. And my mind is submitted to yours: when the food arrives, I’m not thinking about whether or not you picked “right,” whether or not I like the food. I’m not worried about that. I know you picked right just because you picked it, and I trust you.
That’s the best way I can think of to illustrate the dynamic I want to explore. I want to be your little girl and your most cherished thing, delicate and pretty and wholly yours. And I want you to feel the largeness of that, the expansion of your self that comes with enveloping mine. This isn’t just responsibility, in the sense of being responsible for a child, though of course there’s that. But this is bigger than responsibility. I don’t want you to feel anxiety about whether or not you’re doing the right thing, I want you to just know that by treating me with the utmost care and respect and paternalism and delicacy and love and nurturing that you’re automatically doing the right thing.
And I know I haven’t said the word “sex” here at all, but this has everything to do with sex. Nothing and everything.
Thank you, Shanna ;)
As for her fantasy, I want it to come in her words. She says she’s willing to contribute. GUEST POST, PEOPLE. GET READY. Just, not tonight, because it’s 11:15 on a Monday and we have to be up in 7.5 hours.
So, grad school has started. I’d really wanted to do a post about my day trip into the central valley to see my grandpa’s pistachio orchards, but I can’t figure out how to get the pictures off my blackberry and onto my computer. Sadface. As soon as I can figure that out, I’ll post about that, because it was pretty amazing.
So, yeah, grad school. In the span of a week and a half, my life has changed pretty dramatically. Time is such an odd thing; when you’re in a particular timescape, you feel like this is it, this is what life means, it’s all led up to this, for better or for worse. And then something changes, and things shift, and that particular timescape feels so distant and you wonder how that ever felt real. My drop into grad school has been a waBAM kind of shift, and I look back on the summer (and, for that matter, the intervening years since I finished undergrad) and it feels like this weird island-in-the-sky, this floating interlude between something real and something else real. But what does “real” even mean? I guess for me, “real” means that I feel connected to myself — to my interiority as well as my exteriority — in a way I haven’t felt in quite a while.
It’s exciting. And it’s scary.
For the past two years, my relationship with ML has been the single thing outside of my own self that has motivated me the most. I have interests, sure. I love to cook (as y’all know quite well by now). I love writing here. I care deeply about the anti-sexual violence work I’ve been doing. I’ve enjoyed setting up my home with ML and expanding my sense of community in San Francisco. Many things. And yet on a day-to-day basis the thing that’s most occupied me has been my relationship. I love thinking about it, being in it, challenging myself to communicate in more effective ways (or not communicate when it’s really just time to shut up). I like positioning myself in the context of my relationship and in the context of a greater Queer Community, however fictive such a thing might be. I’ve really found resilience in my femininity and femme-ininity, and ML has been an instrumental part of that for me.
And now, in the past week and a half, my mental landscape has re-oriented. This was bound to happen no matter what program I entered, of course. But I think this particular program has hit a nerve in me in a way that undergrad never did (and that’s saying a lot, because I loved my undergraduate experience). I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but already the reading for my classes and my fellow students and the professors have all pushed my thinking to a level I haven’t been at in a while. I can already feel my mind expanding, opening windows, sweeping out old stuff and letting the cross-breeze carry in fresh air. I fucking love this feeling. It’s the feeling of being held accountable for my thinking. And the stuff we’re learning gets to me. Social justice always does. I’m gobbling it up.
What’s scary, though, is that it’s something outside of my relationship that’s driving me in a very real way. I was trying to articulate last night to ML what it was that was making me feel a bit jumpy and anxious lately and that’s really what it is. It’s this fear that being forced/encouraged to grow and expand is going to somehow make me grow and expand away from her. I know that’s probably unfounded, and that part of the beauty of relationships is pursuing our own things but being there to support each other in them. I mean, she does music, and I go to all her shows and listen to all her recordings and offer feedback and clap and cheer (and love her music, natch). I’m a part of her musical growth to the extent that I’m there by her side. Until now, there hasn’t really been that thing that I’ve needed her support in. I think grad school is going to be it. I’m going to need her to bounce ideas off of and to support me when I have a lot of homework to do and to read my papers and be interested in what I’m thinking about. So it’s going to be a probably subtle (and definitely positive) shift in our relationship once that dynamic blossoms. And I’m really excited for that.
BUT, here’s the thing. At the moment, we are both absurdly busy. I have a weekend-long seminar this weekend, plus I’m performing in a burlesque show on Tuesday so I’m rehearsing a bunch before then. Next week, she’s taking an evening music seminar Monday and Wednesday, is rehearsing with her band Thursday, and then has a major show on Saturday. The one night neither one of us has something separate — Friday — is a mutual friend’s birthday. Then Sunday I have a new student potluck to attend in Oakland. And the following week she’s got the same seminar again, and then band rehearsal again, and then another gig that Friday. And I’m kind of freaking out. When are we going to see each other???? When will we get to actually talk about the stuff that my mind has been turning over since classes started last week? She was out of town all Labor Day weekend at a wedding on the east coast, and then she gets back and BOOM we’re both frantically running around with 8 million things to do and the only time during the day that we get to share is the half hour before bed. And usually, that involves sex. Which is, you know, important. Obviously. But … I need the rest of the stuff that goes along with being in a healthy, loving and mutually supportive relationship, too. Call me high-maintenance.
So, we were just e-mailing back and forth (she’s at work, I’m at home supposedly “reading for class” but I’ve stretched the definition of that a bit by writing here…) and decided that Sunday evening, after my seminar, we’ll have a Date. Go to a wine bar, watch an old movie on the floor with lots of pillows and blankets, and have sex that’s not just half-hour-before-bed sex. So, yay! Step in the right direction. Breathe in, breathe out, and everything’s going to be okay.
And now I’d better get back to my reading…
I’ve been away for the past week and a half. I’m finally back (sort of), and I am so ready for my life to resume as normal.
Last Sunday, I went to Gold Country with my family. It was beautiful. We were in a cabin about 20 miles away from Jackson, a quaint old gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierras. The weather was perfect — temperatures in the 80s, no humidity, not a cloud in the sky. There was a family of deer that lived about 50 feet from our cabin, and they would casually look up from munching leaves when we came near and then disinterestedly return to their meal. There was a swimming hole in a creek about ten minutes away, and we spent an afternoon there alternately baking in the sun on the rocks by the creek and jumping in the bitingly cold water from rocks 30 feet high. One day, we went for a hike at Devil’s Lake — it was about 4 miles to the lake, and we didn’t see a single other person that day. The trail took us up up up into the mountains and the cool lake was very welcome when we finally reached it. It’s amazing how much land there is that’s isolated — I forget that, living in the city. We took turns cooking there, so the first night was my night and I got to cook for someone other than just ML. I kept thinking that I was making too much food, but apparently 6 people can eat a lot more than 2 people can! I roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh rosemary, made a green bean and cherry tomato salad with spring onion and a light balsamic vinaigrette, and chicken marinated in lemon and garlic with a spring onion, garlic, ginger, and lemon sauce to spoon on top. Fresh fruit for dessert. I love California and its agricultural bounty! I got to read a lot too, being disconnected from the internet and my phone. Four days without being able to check my email once! I hope there will always be places on the earth that signals and cables can’t access.
And then the very same day I came back from the mountains, ML and I flew to Vermont for her sister’s wedding.
I had no idea what to expect from the wedding. I knew that it was the first time anyone in her family aside from her parents and sister were seeing her in the knowledge that she was gay. I knew that I would probably be under a bit of scrutiny because of that, though not nearly as much scrutiny as she would be under. I knew that there would be people there who would potentially be uncomfortable with us. I knew that I have ambivalent feelings about marriage, and that the last wedding I went to (of one of my best friends from childhood) felt contrived and, for me, uncomfortable. I knew that ML’s sister (who is younger than she is by a few years) is a darling, but is also pretty foreign to me. She’s 24 years old and has a career, a husband, a dog, a perfect apartment… It’s a life that sort of baffles me. So straightforward. So straight. I was a bit apprehensive about the wedding, to be frank.
But it was absolutely beautiful. A few minor bumps (throwing up after brunch the first morning because I’d been on a red-eye and hadn’t slept and the food was too much for my delicate system!, one of ML’s family’s close friends not being able to look me in the eye through an entire evening the night before the rehearsal dinner, having my feelings hurt – unintentionally – by ML’s mom the morning of the wedding, etc.), but otherwise — it was kind of indescribable. The couple obviously love each other a lot, and everyone was full of love and glowing with joy. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. No one, aside from the one family friend, was remotely weird to me, and in fact people seemed to make an effort to be nice. The wedding was at a gorgeous lakeside location and the ceremony was simple and personal. Unlike the last wedding, this one wasn’t remotely contrived.
I did feel a bit uncomfortable. It was a bit melancholy, actually, just knowing that our wedding would be different. Of course most of the ways it would be different would be intentional, and thus would be better for us. But other ways are just side effects of queerness — the love and joy from all the guests at this wedding wouldn’t be as effortless at our (hypothetical) wedding. Of course, we wouldn’t have to invite people who would have a hard time feeling effortless about it, but then we’d be missing half of the people in our lives who we love. How do you get around that? How do you have a wedding that has everyone you love and also know that everyone there is unadulteratedly loving you and supporting you and excited and happy for you… In my family, at least, I know that that’s not quite possible. Almost, but not quite.
But. This wedding also made me want one. ML’s sister and her now-husband have been together now as long as ML and I have. (Yep, they got engaged after about 4 months of dating!) It was hard to be at that wedding and not think “this could be us getting married.” Not that we would’ve had the same wedding, but you know what I mean. I know that we love each other as much as the bride and groom love each other. I know that we have an awesome relationship. And there was something (ick alert) kind of transcendent and magical about watching the two of them make vows to each other in front of everyone they love. It felt so authentic and real and significant. I want that. And being there, it was hard not to want it now. It sorta made me feel like, if they’re doing it now, why shouldn’t we?
The truth is, I do feel ready to marry her in a way. I feel certain about her. I don’t think it’s possible to be certain about anyone forever. I think that contemplating the notion of “forever” in general — with regard to relationships or not — is dizzying. You can’t know about the future, in any regard, and that’s why trying to be certain about something in the future feels so scary. But I’m certain now. And day by day I’m more and more certain. Not certain that she’s my forever-girl, but that she’s my girl. Am I making any sense? But then the thing is, there’s no rush to get married. It’s important to me, someday, and it was a fun party and I love the idea of everyone getting together to help us celebrate each other, but that can be anytime and hopefully it will only happen once in my life so why get it over with? Anticipation is always almost as fun as the thing you’re anticipating, anyway. Plus, I have some things I have to do. Grad school starts on Friday. And before then is my birthday — tomorrow :)