Everything

I still honestly can’t believe I’m married. Maybe that’s why newlyweds take honeymoons. At least there’s a life interruption that says hey lady, shit is different around here. The only thing that feels different around here is an invisible identical everything.

We’re beginning of the week shoppers. Come the weekend, we make a grocery list and plan menus. Often we give up on a meal but, for the most part, we stick to it. We’re also forgetful and so sometimes it means a quick trip out for a vegetable or lunch the next day or cake. We obviously eat a lot of cake. Debra is usually the runner outer and every single time she walks out the door, I wonder what will happen if she doesn’t come back. Will a terrible accident mean I lose both my wife and my legally-not child? How quickly would social services arrive to take her away? Obviously I’d miss my wife and my cake but RR, taken in the night, I can’t even breathe. Marriage hasn’t made her mine, but it has made me the most logical choice in a tragedy, even by the most callous of social workers.

On vacations in friendly places, we hold hands. Sometimes we kiss chastely in the street. We give ourselves the chance to wonder what it would be like if no one cared. While people probably still care and some of them, even in our excellent community, are offended, we are now legally entitled to be married. It hasn’t changed them, but it has changed us. We’re bolder, more willing to blame them and not ourselves if they are offended. You’ve probably reached this point, the point of not caring, long before we have (in whatever part of your life you’re anxious about) but for me, this feeling is novel.

I find myself saying thank you frequently. To acquaintances and strangers, people who have recognized us from the press. It’s unnerving, the casual eye-contact and recognition, especially when someone doesn’t verbally acknowledge that they’ve seen me before. I’ve changed my response from “Oh, thank you!” to “Thank you! I’m Meridith” and sticking out my hand. It seems to make a difference. See me, it says. I am friendly, it says. I am just like you.

It’s every moment. The ones when people aren’t looking and the ones when they are. It’s half wanting to yell from the rooftops and half quiet this is rightfully ours. It’s wanting to talk about it forever and knowing that moment has passed (sorry, folks). My soul is soaked in tears – of happiness, of disbelief, of amazement, of gratitude, of notice me I am changed. But unusually for me, all the tears are being shed inside, for better or worse.

The fabric woven from my life was already erratic, marked with knots and tangles, thread changing color and texture midstream. This is the gaping hole closed with lace and fine stitching that you notice once but that I run my hands over every single day and will, for the rest of my life. Everything is different.

 

 

 

Holy shit. Did that happen?

I imagined the moment in my mind: a hotter than usual spring day at work, watching live feeds and twitter streams, waiting for news about the Supreme Court’s decision in Someone vs. The State that would change my life. I imagined the agonizing wait between the decision in some other state and the inevitable consequence in Virginia – the day we, too, would get the right to be married.

I did not imagine that I would wake up on a completely unremarkable Monday in October with a slight cold and by 11am I’d be rushing to the Courthouse. I was married on Monday. MARRIED. To my gorgeous wife. Married.

meridithanddebra

Civil rights. Civil fucking rights. They deserve their own moment. It’s all their own moment. But today is to tell you about my wedding.

In that almost-wedding-moment in August, I bought a dress that was too plum-colored and too heavy for summer. Independently, my wife’s best person helped her pick out a tie that matched perfectly. We threw them on and rushed to the courthouse to stand in line for marriage license. I guess you can’t leave rights out, after all. The room slowly filled with other couples and members of the press. The tiny space was chaotic and filled with happy families waiting for that very moment when it would be legal to sign the first license.

radifera_vaifl_0002

We couldn’t have planned it better – the press followed the first family out to the courthouse steps and in the silence, Debra and I committed to each other, again, in front of the Clerk of the Court.

The community started there, with the hugs and the handshakes from our fellow brides and grooms and the enthusiastic embrace from the Clerk. It followed us to the steps of the courthouse where we settled in to watch the string of ceremonies, listened to the happy honking from passing cars, and began to panic, a little, about everything going right.

IMG_2005

 

 

Before we got there, we called our local families and our best friends and planned on a 3:30 ceremony. Yes, we’d have to wait two hours, but the license was in hand and we were likely to make it before the Supreme Court could take it away. There’s that rights thing, popping up again. A co-worker arrived with a veil, her own balsa-wood bouquet, and a tiny champagne bottle with paper cups. Friends left their offices. Their children walked over with picked wildflowers for RR. My parents brought RR and we slipped her into a new dress. And then it happened.

ruby

We were married. We are MARRIED. In the state that we live in. Married.

I could talk your ear off. About the press and our fellow newlyweds. About the tremendous outpouring of support from our community. About the gifts our friends gave us – their presence, a serenade from the steps, their joy in this victory. We’re married. You can share our moment here and here and here. I’m not promising this is the last you’ll hear about this. I’m still overwhelmed and a little tongue-tied. But I wanted to tell you, because you are always here to listen, that I am filled with joy and amazement and a sense of gratification.

Married.

radifera_vaifl_0060

 

 

 

 

15 Minutes

cover

Last Wednesday we landed on the cover of the local weekly paper.

stillnotlegal

The interview came about the normal way, which is weird in and of itself, to think of interviews as being normal. There was less angst over clothing and talking points this time since it’s our sixth time in one paper or another in the last couple of years (seventh if you count an impromptu television interview). It’s both cool and surreal to see RR grow up in newsprint.

do you

It also satisfies something inside that with each interview we’re getting closer to equality. The evolution from captioned activist photos on the front page to below the fold interviews to DOMA updates to a sizable interview in a weekly has come with more tolerance and more acceptance (and a better photo each time). Our interviewers have become increasingly more well-informed and relaxed (and so have we). We sound more confident and articulate each time (thank goodness).

inside

Pride was this weekend and Debra sat under a dripping tent while RR and I donned raincoats and  camped out on a blanket in front of the stage. Our allies stopped by and friends joined us on the blanket to have a very short but gratifying conversation about queer space.* I was prepared and sort of nervous to be recognized since our pictures are tucked inside a news box on every corner but we slid through the day peacefully. It was a weird feeling wondering whether people were identifying us privately but not saying anything or whether we were surrounded by 2000 gay folks and their friends at a gay celebration who hadn’t picked up the gay issue of the popular weekly.

rr and box

To top it off, Debra was quoted on the front page of Sunday paper having very briefly talked to a reporter at her Pride booth. The butch-focused booth was a new endeavor for her and I was thrilled to see her hard work well received by the community. And, while we live in a progressive town, having something about butch identity on the front page is a major accomplishment.

I say all that to say this: I’m hugely proud of my family and I really hope this is the last time we are in the news talking about our rights. If we’re in the paper again, I’d like it to be a wedding announcement.

*While we have super friends, super super friends, there’s something to be said for that moment when everyone at the table (or blanket, in this case) is coming from a common place of understanding. I’m delighted to be able have it both ways and the first makes the second even more cherished.

 

Fire Cider

Saturday was for cold season. Although we’re all healthy, we are anticipating that the giant petri dish that is working in a University will eventually gift us some kind of cold. So we tried our hand at fire cider. I can’t explain this to you. Go here for a recipe and here for a video.

photo 1

We usually muddle through with a combination of good luck, strong immune systems, and a healthy dose of elderberry syrup, but it seemed as though this horseradish-boasting recipe* could blast through a stuffy nose. This is the bane of my winter.

I have no idea what to expect but I can’t wait to give it a shot!

photo 2

 

*Debra was on horseradish duty. Unfortunately, I may never be able to convince her to do this again. Then again, maybe those were tears of joy at grating duty?

Falling Fast

We lived August hard. Wore it right down to the nub. Twisted and wrung and stretched out the last bits and slurped them right down. As RR likes to say, nuhfing for you mama, nuhfing for you.

photo (2)

Speaking of what RR has to say, summer camp delivered one outstanding thing to us. Yes, we delivered a child who could use the potty, and got back one who couldn’t, but in exchange for basic toilet competence, we got a child who can say her Ls. Thank you, Liz, for apparently being very committed to having your name said correctly. Ls. I don’t even miss I yuv you, mama. Well, maybe a little.

Not only does she have Ls, but she also has a new, sweet, tolerant, way of correcting us. Constantly. Mama, did you fought I wanted the window open? We, of course, did. Did you fought I wanted to have you pull my hair when you put it in the ponytail? I didn’t. Did you fought I didn’t want the last cookie? I DID. She says it so gently that you can almost forget she is contradicting the very thing she said the moment before.

We didn’t get married. Even though we really thought there was a chance we could. Yes, we understand the Supreme Court’s decision was a forgone conclusion but, if that was the case, it was all the more heartbreaking that they waited til almost the last minute to decide. I have a lot of feeeelings about this but dragging them out has proven harder than expected.

photo (4)

We dug in the sand, swam in the ocean, and hopped waves holding hands. Whether it was the sun or the salt air, we brought back a child at least a foot taller. We also brought back a child who consistently used the potty, at least to pee. When I dropped her off for her first day at school I wasn’t thinking, oh how cute, oh how big she is, oh my little baby is all grown up (well, mostly not) I was thinking, so help me god if my child has an accident on your watch I will…well, I don’t know what. But SOMETHING.

I have a lot of feelings about potty training AT FOUR, too, but apparently they are lodged right in that place where you can’t speak for fear you’ll choke. The teacher tells us she can multiply. And while I swallow it, I want to say: can you work less on math and more on poop?

photo (1)

 

But she is back at school AND peeing in the potty, but not without prompting, and not with a promise of doing it again the next time, but we take what we can get. And she IS so grown up. And so tall. And suddenly her little-girlness is so much…less.

1511560_10100727307152505_2553778696750232501_n

Four years of first day of school pictures and next year she’ll have cleared the railing. She’ll be on top of it, too. She is brilliantly daring and enthusiastic and oblivious to heights (but don’t you dare help her down).

photo (3)

There’s more stuck behind the feelings. How somehow I feel like we’re shooting down a steel chute with nothing to catch hold of, just the chance of locking our nails on the rivets. She’s having a hell of a ride though.

ruby at thebeach

Snip

My wife is off right now cutting her hair. I’m not sure what she’ll come home with. Less hair? A lot less hair? No hair? There’s a novel here about her hair and her feelings about it and maybe she’ll tell it. I suppose it’ll depend on how she feels about her new hair. I suspect she’d also like me to have feelings.

Wife, standing at edge of bed and holding her hair in her hand: I’m getting this cut tomorrow, you know. How will you feel about it?

Me, reading in the bed: I don’t really care as long as you’re happy.

fail3

This has been going on for some time and I do just want her to be happy. I’d also like her to get on with it while she’d like to consider it from every angle, for years if necessary. Hair is complex and personal so I don’t blame her for taking her time.

I don’t talk much about our relationship. Sometimes I wish I had a tell all where I could dump steamy thoughts and torrid tell alls but I usually just work out the fraught moments with my wife and there’s nothing left to write. Sometimes though, there’s something still unsaid. I suspect she’s worried that I won’t love her if she has less hair. I worry that she’ll expect a reaction other than the one that comes naturally to me. I hope this will rejuvenate some part of her. I want this to not be tied to me or how I feel.

Is this about hair or being married?

Out of Office

I was in Kruger National Park sneaking up on a cheetah when my radio beeped loudly and I lost the moment. It wasn’t the first time I’d ignored my boss on that trip, though in retrospect, talking to her would have been preferable to listening to my ex complain about the early hour for elephant watching. Mind, she ranked right up there with my number one worst boss who, on my first day at work in my very first real job, asked me to crutch seven blocks and then berated me not only for being too slow but for having broken my ankle in the first place.


Cheetah2

At the time of the cheetah sighting I was on vacation and remained connected to civilization and the Embassy (we’re talking post-9/11, mid-Anthrax) by radio as required by the friendly neighborhood security officer. I was on vacation. I wasn’t working. I was vacationing.

I learned quickly that in the Foreign Service you need to be in between somewheres to not be working. Otherwise, the emails are piling up, the deadlines are shorter, the bosses shriller. Regardless, I placed a priority on work-life balance and took the shrillness and heat that came with it. There was heat, my friends. Some people don’t understand the meaning of the word vacation.

I am also very firmly in the don’t-check-your-email camp. It’s hard to avoid working when it’s so so easy to hit the mail icon on your phone. I don’t take calls or check my voicemail ever, much to my mother’s (and telemarketers) dismay. It’s vacation. Right? Turn it off and mentally rejuvenate.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 2.54.08 PM

But it turns out that the work that piles up when you’re away starts to be more stressful than actually doing it. And when your mother calls and says, “By the way, we’re going out of town the week you needed us to watch RR AND we need you to dog sit Duncan*. Pity it’s when you planned your vacation.” and your wife says, “Oh but look! We can move it to the following week (profanity about your mother redacted).” then you’ll say, “Fair enough.”, completely forgetting that you are tied to the academic year and everyone else took their vacations LAST week and everything, everything, is happening the week you’ll be gone.

And you are trying very hard to get a promotion by being very awesome and it’s hard to be awesome when you aren’t actually there.

And so here I am. Feeling relieved that I’ll be working, at least a little, while I’m on vacation. I won’t be awesome, but I won’t be feeling overwhelmed when I get back. I think I’ve picked the lesser of the two evils. I hope so.

 

*Upon looking for a link to give you so that you could reacquaint yourselves with Duncan, I realized that I had not told you nearly enough about how overwhelming he is. Fortunately, my wife captured it here, here, and here. Since we’re dog sitting this week, I was up at the obscene hour of 6am to keep him from barking himself crazy. I sat in the recliner and watched Face Off. Don’t judge.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 723 other followers