I started this blog as a place to write some of my meandering thoughts -- which I don't seem to do much of any more. I've spent some time thinking about that and I've decided I caged my own thoughts and censored myself here. I'm not sure why -- I honestly don't even know if anyone reads this blog any more. Certainly, there've been no comments which weren't spam in a very long time.
So, for any long-time readers, this is your notice that the content on my blog is about to change. Instead of just being about a woman, her ferrets and her knitting, this blog is going to open up and give me space to share about my family. My untraditional family.
I've talked about Randy, my husband. I've talked about Nicholas, our son. But there's someone new in my life -- our lives -- and I haven't talked about Jennifer at all. (She gave me the go-ahead to use her name. It's sad that we have to worry about the repercussions of talking openly about our lives and love, but that is where we are in the world today.)
So, there's no way to start talking about Jennifer without starting at the beginning. This beginning is 15 years old. I'll try to stay on track and not wander. Fortunately some of the early stuff can be summarized pretty easily.
In 1996, while on winter break from college, Randy and I made a startling revelation: I was gay. That freaked me out pretty badly and I didn't know what to do with this information -- I mean, I'd been married (happily!) for almost six years. We had a son together. What now?
My aunt gave me the answer. She said, "Anne, you've never done anything the normal way before. Why start now?" So, I didn't listen to the conservatives who said I needed to bury that information and work hard at being a good wife. I didn't listen to the hard-core lesbians who said I needed to divorce my husband and ditch my son to truly be free of the patriarchy. Instead, I decided to try to find a middle road.
I'm not going to lie. It wasn't easy. There were some really bad bumps along the way. But, life settled down to the occasional date for me -- and to be fair, Randy was given equal option to date, though he chose not to. But no one really clicked for me.
For a while, I helped manage a list for Married Lesbians. I hear the list still exists, but I've also been told it's a shadow of it's former self, which is sad. Through that list, I met a woman and fell pretty hard. But, it wasn't meant to be. It took me a long time to realize that. I think I used her (in my head) as a reason to not move on or to not seek out another woman.
Sometime after this woman didn't work out, I realized I was more flexible in my labeling of myself. I finally decided I really didn't care what others called me: what mattered was my heart. I try not to de-value my feelings in 1996 and on by saying I never was a lesbian. I think I needed to go through that time to reach where I am today.
In either late 2009 or early 2010, I came across some random quiz which interested me but required I sign up on some site called OKCupid.com. *shrugs* I did. And I found that the profile I created didn't try to pigeonhole me into someone else's (conservative) definitions. I could say I was married *and* seeking women. I could openly claim myself to be polyamorous.
When I posted my scores to the original quiz, I caught Randy's attention and he too signed up on OKC. Funny, but cool. What shocked the living hell out of me was when he chatted me in Google chat one day and told me he'd met a woman and they were talking about getting together for a date. I remember feeling like the bottom had fallen out of my world. He'd never shown any interest in dating and often said, "I don't have the energy to date!" My shock deepened as I realized there was a lot of "homework" I hadn't done in all these years: I'd not prepared for him to go out and for me to stay home, wondering and waiting.
It was a rough couple weeks there. Especially when he reached the point where he wanted she and I to meet. It was part of our agreement: a meeting would happen before certain milestones could be crossed. While neither of us has "veto power", we both have a strong desire that each other would like any other partners we might have.
After we met, she and I went on a date or two. But, for various reasons, things just didn't progress for us -- and they soon dwindled for her and Randy. I think we all have remained friends, which is nice.
Soon though, I started hearing a lot about this woman on OKC that Randy was talking to. She was far away (about 2500 miles NE of us) and that made her "safe". But there was a lot of talk about "if she wasn't so far away, I could fall for her". That had my mental antennas wiggling. I didn't want to be a jealous wife, but I was immensely curious about her. I made sure he was okay with me contacting her -- he was -- and I wrote her a message. It turns out, while I was writing that message, there was one from her already in my inbox!
It's a little cliche to say, "The rest is history." I mean -- 2500 miles! But we went from 3 people talking to each other to very quickly planning a meeting. The months, then weeks, then days until that meeting seemed to drag. We were trying to be smart and give everyone "outs" -- there's this belief that "online relationships" aren't real until you actually meet. That could very well be true for most people. But I've said for years, "Brains turn me on." And Jennifer's brain was very attractive to me!
Even before we met, Jennifer was already planning to move to Arizona. She'd originally been looking at several schools -- one of them being ASU -- for her continued education. Now, she put that plan into high gear, with an expected move date of March 2011.
Anyway, we made it to our meet-up and it was as though we'd all known each other for years. The weekend was too short. We immediately made plans for me to fly to her for a couple weeks. During that visit, we discovered that her plan to move to Arizona could be upped by several months. Jennifer had originally planned to visit us in January, then move in March. So, I asked, "Does it make sense to spend the money on a round-trip ticket in January, if you don't have to wait until March to move?" That started an entire conversation. The result? Her move date was the end of the semester, December 2010.
Meanwhile, as I have been able to share in other posts, we were trying to buy a house. Randy was set to leave town on December 15th to go to her and help her finish packing. They would load a Penske truck and drive home. The question was: would "home" be the cramped apartment we'd fled to in June when our landlord died and the house went into foreclosure? Or would it be the house we toured just before I left to spend a couple weeks with her, in early October?
The answer came on the 7th of December, when we were given keys to the house. We planned our apartment move for the 9th and hired movers to empty our two storage bays on the 10th. We were buried in boxes. But we had the house!
Now, we just needed to get all three of us in the same house finally. Randy left town as scheduled. Jennifer had contracted bronchitis, was cramming for finals and still working full-time.
I was left to hold down the home front and try to find space for her belongings to be unloaded. That meant unpacking as many books as possible and getting them onto shelves. I organized, I unpacked, I re-organized and unpacked some more.
I had no idea it would be so hard to be the one alone. Jennifer did. She'd done it for many months. Randy did it for almost three weeks -- with the possibility I'd stay for even longer, to help her out. I'm sure it didn't help that I was buried in boxes and already hurting. It didn't feel like home at all.
When they hit the road, I was "Mission Control" -- if they needed something, one of them could chat me and I could find them answers. They were not always in 3G areas for their cellphones. Even then, at the best of times, one of them was balancing a laptop on their lap, in a very shaky truck. I could pull up weather for the next city they would reach and gas prices along their route. I could plot routes, estimate mileage, give them alternate routes in case of weather. During this time, I also barked out a lot of orders to the two still here, Nicholas and our housemate. It was up to them to keep the unpacking moving and finalize all that needed doing before Randy and Jennifer arrived.
It was a long journey. But they finally arrived, on Christmas Eve. While that meant more work, it was good work: bringing Jennifer into this house and making a home together, the three of us. Four of us, really -- she adores Nick and he seems to really like her right back.
I couldn't wait any longer and one morning, while we three were still in bed, I popped the question for the two of us. She said yes. I know it can't be legal. I know we'll have to make all kinds of legal arrangements to get even remotely close to a real marriage. But in my heart, I will wed her and she will be my wife. She will be his wife. He will be her husband. And we three will be together.
We tossed around ideas for varying degrees of a wedding -- from a big shindig with gowns and tuxedos and a dinner being served with music and photography, to a small ceremony in our backyard (which needs a lot of work before it could be the site of a ceremony). Jennifer and I looked at a lot of gowns online and went back and forth on the kind of wedding we wanted.
We also struggled with the fact the wedding wouldn't be real -- no license by a government entity to say we three were married to each other. She can't be added to Randy's insurance. We have to create a lot of legal documents in order to make sure she's treated the same as either Randy or I would be treated at the death of one of us. Jennifer needs -- and I need to give her -- the security of knowing one of the "established married couple" can't suddenly change their mind and kick her out with nothing.
We've had some challenges in these last 4 months together. Through those challenges, I realized I needed to make a commitment to her. I needed to say the words, she needed to hear them. So we started talking about a handfasting.
Handfastings (as I've known them) started as a Celtic tradition, being "a year and a day" arrangement which allowed couples to be united properly, until a priest could come and make it legitimate. It also served (going farther back in time) as the only ceremony which marked a couple's move towards making their own family.
This last Monday, we held our handfasting in our home, with some of our local friends. The request was to keep it small, so we didn't even invite all our local friends. No family for any of us was there -- my Mom knew, but I'd told her I didn't expect her to try to fly out here for it because money is tight for all of us.
I'm the only one who didn't write my own vows, sadly. I committed to making two beautiful gowns in less than three weeks and just never had the time to take the words I'd found and personalize them any. My vows are found online as "Irish Wedding Vows":
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me, for I am a free person, but I shall serve you in those ways you require, and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.
I shall not slander you, nor you me.
I shall honor you above all others, and if we quarrel we shall do so in private and tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you.
This is the marriage of equals.
So this new chapter begins. We're going to make mistakes (I make at least one every day -- sometimes really big ones). The "little green monster" is going to creep in. That's okay. Jealousy or envy is just a flag to say, "Hey, I'm feeling [insecure / lonely / left out]." Recognizing that feeling and learning how and when to voice it is the challenge.
I'll be brutally honest here: If you support us, that's great and I'm glad to have your friendship or kinship in my life. If you don't, please don't waste your time quoting from the book your faith is based on -- it's not the book of my faith and possibly not the faith of either of my partners. I moderate all comments (thanks to spammers) and I won't allow negative garbage on my site. If you have questions, I'll post them, if they are respectful. I'll even try to answer them, if the answers aren't too private. There's not a whole lot of visible support for families like ours. We're bucking the system big time -- and I get that it won't be easy.
There's a lot of thoughts jumbled up in my head. Things I'd like to blog about and get out there, instead of keeping them locked in my grey matter, driving me bonkers by repetition. But that's all going to have to wait for another blog entry. Now that I've opened the doors to this new chapter of my life and a new chapter of this blog, I can make those entries.
Let the floodgates be opened.