(No, We Don’t Look Like This –
But We Did When We Met in 1994!!)
If you’re not gay/lesbian, etc., you probably haven’t heard the very old joke:
What do 2 lesbians bring to a 2nd date?: “A U-haul.”
If you have, this will be oh-so-familiar. If not, there is great truth in that joke.
Read on and all will be revealed…
La and I were both getting out of or had been in truly crappy, toxic relationships and the last thing either of us wanted was to get into another one. Big Time!
After finally leaving the “loser ex from hell”, at the tender age of 23, I swore off meeting anyone and just wanted some space to breathe. I even stopped doing any activism work and going to bars to make sure I’d be “safe”. That lasted 6 months. A very boring 6 months. Then I got involved with LCN (Loving, Caring Network), a group of hard-core lesbians who get together for activities and put out a monthly newsletter. My role was to help with the newsletter.
At the meeting, one of the women recommended contacting GLCS, the local gay and lesbian center, as they were putting on their first ever community awards program and needed ushers. I did and the first meeting was like “old home week”. I knew almost everyone and it was OMG and hugs all around. I was in.
Sitting across from me was an attractive, slim brunette with a nice smile. But no spark, no interest. As the meeting was ending and people were leaving, I was passing by her to go through the door and she said “hi” so I stopped to chat for a minute. At some point she asked me “if I liked video games”. Worst come-on line I had ever heard. What, did I look 12? Instant write-off! Her story: she saw that I was fairly young, she loved video games, and thought I might as well. It was a “friendly common ground” comment. Riigghhtt!
The award’s event was being held at a cavernous, converted Firestone garage, renovated as a bar, and perfect for our needs. And I went from lowly usher to Assistant Stage Manager in a micro-second when the guy bailed. La and I spent that meeting chatting and it was all so innocent. The next meeting – not so much. Two weeks later when I saw her, I really saw her. Was very nervous and “oh no, oh no, oh no” kept flashing through my mind. But by the end of the planning meeting, we had arranged to get together for a “friends only, pizza and beer” the following Saturday night, February 12th.
Yes, I admit I had my car detailed that afternoon. Yes, I admit I had told co-workers who were all super excited for me. That is all I will admit. I was NOT going to get involved! La will admit she cleaned the whole house in case I actually came in for a minute. That is all as well.
I got to her place around 7 and met her dog Bear at the door, which was love at first sight. And it turned out to be a truly memorable evening. First, to a terrific local pizza place, which has since sadly closed, where we told our “stories” over a delicious large pie and imported beer. Turns out they were eriely similar – crap relationship after crap relationship. Being cheated on BIG TIME and vowing to never let it happen again.
The Blues Club “Table Dance”:
After dinner, the night was still young and neither of us wanted it to end so I suggested a fun blues club downtown and off we went. This is the truly hilarious part of the evening: we scared an entire club of straight people! No, it was not intentional. Yes, we ended us with art cards left by a fleeing couple at one table and moved from the very back of the club to front row center in stages. Yes, we got a few free drinks. And we were completely oblivious the whole time!
When we first sat down we could barely see the stage. Then looking over at a closer table, the two women sitting there looked back rather afraid and moved. So we took their table. And then the next, and the next, as “straight flight” opened up better view after better view. Finally we were directly in front of the stage, the blues band jammed, we shouted at each other over the din, and smiled and laughed at how ridiculous the whole situation was. It wasn’t like we were in leather with studs and a buzz cut. Two less frightening people you will probably never meet; two casually dressed women out for a night on the town. We still laugh about it and have the art show cards stowed away.
It was after midnight and we were both a little tired so she drove me back to her place where I could pick up my car. I walked her halfway to her door and gave her a “quick peck” to thank her for a wonderful time. Twenty minutes later we surfaced for air and stood staring at each other for the longest time. She said she would call me the next day…and she did!
Valentine’s Day Surprise:
When I got to work on Monday, February 14th, Valentines Day, I recieved my first ever flower delivery. A dozen beautiful red roses with an incredibly sweet note! My co-workers were SOOO jealous and everyone asked about the “non-date”, praised the flowers, and wanted to know when we were getting together again.
Listening to Her Breathe:
She did call that night, and the night after, and the night after… It got so bad we placed the phone receivers by our ears as we were going to sleep so we could hear each other breathe. Pretty sappy, huh. We talked for hours every night and she invited me to dinner that Saturday. Some foreshadowing: it was almost time for the U-Haul!
Dinner was lovely – and – so was breakfast. Except for her rather strange roommate, the next week passed in a blur, with the exception of meeting Wednesday after work for salads we couldn’t eat. Followed by hours spent in GLCS’s counseling office talking. Where contrary to public opinion, NOTHING HAPPENED. We were rudely interrupted in our “nothing” by the guy closing the Center for the evening who was checking rooms before setting the alarm. This has since gone into urban legend.
Completely besotted and barely able to walk two paces away from each other, the Center Director, Lyle who was a key player in the award show, allowed us “velco breaks” during meetings and had to “clap off” to get us pried apart. Today, there’s no clapping involved and we’re even able to sit a few feet away from each other.
Two weeks to the day after our “friends only, pizza and beer non-date”, we were officially a couple and I had begun to bring my stuff over to her place, though without the U-Haul. I was already living there in spirit, the “stuff” was a formality. By the Memorial Day Weekend a few months later when we went out of town to spend a weekend in Savannah, we came back to an emptied out house and no more “in the way” roommate. He left the sofa and a chair in the living room, some stuff in the bathroom, and a bit in the kitchen. Oh, and the kitchen table. That was about it. We went to my apartment across town to get the rest of my things that I wanted to keep, mainly my futon, clothes, and books. And then we slowly bought things like an armior for the tv and stereo, a coffee table, bookcases, etc. Then took another trip to Savannah to find cool marine items to decorate the living room with. We were on our way!
The Path of Our Lives Together:
Almost 18 years: The good, the bad, the ugly, and the treasured. Over the years, we’ve been through much together, like any other couple, gay or straight. Hard core activists/community leaders who went through a tough experience and are now armchair activists. Jobs that came and went. Family changes too numerous to go into. Gains and losses. A dream home we luckily got during the good times and furnished when my job was at it’s highest earning point. Dealing with my bipolar diagnosis and years of med changes, walking on eggshells, and now finally finding consistent stability and the will and energy to get back to my old self. Getting older and all that entails. The gift of dear friends and the loss of casual acquaintances.
The path has been smooth, it has been rocky, it has been joyous, it has been heart-breaking, yet we have weathered it all together and only grown stronger in our love. Her dream is to retire in Vermont where much of her remaining family is, in a much smaller cozy house, with land for a garden and alpacas. Yes, I said alpacas. Don’t ask, I still don’t get it. Chickens for our own eggs, selling alpaca wool, and being close enough to Burlington to enjoy civilization without being in the middle of it. Her dream is my dream as I fell in love with Vermont when we went there two years ago to finally get legally married. We had a Civil Union years ago but it wasn’t recognized in Florida.
I still can’t sleep without hearing her breathe, softly as she rests. Her morning “I love you” note ritual is something I look forward to every day. And her face is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Guess it’s a bit late to get rid of me!
So What’s Your Story?:
Although I didn’t receive any “sweetie” stories for this post, I’m sure many of you out there have your own wonderful stories about how you met your “one and only”. As well as those who have lost them or not met them yet. Whatever your story, cherish it for the miracle it is. And remember the best “sweetie” of all looks back at you from the mirror. We don’t need another to complete us, not when we have the gift of our own company.
So wherever you are in this journey called life, celebrate and be grateful for any good that you can call your own, whether your “sweetie” or the promise of one, your successes and the failures that helped you grow, your “fur people”, family, and friends. There is a wide open world out there and a precious one within!