LOVE WON

How amazing was yesterday? It is now legal for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters to get married in ALL, say it again, ALL 50 states. YES!


This is S and I on our wedding day – May 16, 2014. I’m so happy that we can celebrate this victory during the month of PRIDE, and that others can now have a happy-cake-cutting-moment without having to travel outside of their home cities.

I’m so proud of the country. There is still a lot of learning and growing to be done in America when it comes to equality, but this is a giant step. Everyone celebrate. Have a drink or eat some carbs. We did it!

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You Take Out the Trash, and I’ll Do the Dishes.

“Who’s the girl in the relationship?” is a popular inquiry among curious heterosexuals I’ve met in the past. Like a gust of wind, the gender roles within my marriage lean towards societal normativity, but depending on the day will quickly whip in another direction. Society has programmed most of us to think that men and women have specific roles when it comes to households, jobs, and various other avenues of life. I always have to laugh when the questioning of roles within my relationship comes up in conversation, because you’d think that here in the year 2015, that there would be a better sense of freedom within any relationship. Relationships and marriage are both partnerships, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who did what chores. Views of how a relationship should work will vary, and not everyone will agree. I believe this disagreement is important because not only does it encourage learning, it promotes individual growth that could can potentially be shared with other relationships and marriages.

I’ve always joked that – stereotypically speaking – I’m the woman within my marriage. Pinterest is one of my most used apps on my iPhone, and I’ve known how to crochet since I was twelve. I’ve never liked getting dirty, I enjoy a good outfit, and I absolutely love a good bag. My mouth waters over a good-looking messenger or weekender-styled bag, and sports have never been my thing ever since I could remember. I only learned how football truly worked when I joined marching band at Indiana University – Did I mention I played football one year in high school? Yep, now read back those last couple sentences, and collect that laugh.  Over half of my work experience was spent in retail stores, so I’m cursed with the ability to organize any closet, and I actually enjoy it. Every outfit and accessory has a place, and when things get cluttered my mind nearly explodes; there’s instant stress when I come across clutter in my home. When we moved into our condo, I told my husband not to touch anything that was going to a closet. All the traits I’ve mentioned above – things I love about myself – would typically be matched with the gender labeled “female.”

My husband does not mind getting dirty, and this is a result of growing up on a horse farm.  He had real chores: cleaning horse stalls, moving haystacks, breaking horses – the act of socializing a horse to the point of being able to ride it – and various other farm chores that would make most city kids cry. I believe my husband to be the most handsome man in the world, but his wardrobe can be pretty plain – nothing against the plain and simple types.  It’s easy and refreshing most of the time. He’s a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and I love any opportunity to play dress-up with him before going out with friends, or heading out to a dinner. I watched him change the oil on his own car some months back. I ended up retreating to the house, and probably ended up playing on Pinterest, but returned to the garage to find quite the mess. Outside of the dirt and simple manliness that makes up my husband, is his love for Indiana basketball. He can talk college basketball like no one I’ve ever heard before, and gets completely into the games. He’s most emotional during an IU basketball game, and when players from the team make the news because of some coach drama, or team scandal.

While most of these gender role stereotypes are entertaining and fun to identify within any relationship, they’re not the norm anymore.  Sure, back in the day women had their roles, and men had theirs, but in today’s world, you can identify ALL gender roles within a single gay relationship. So what does this say about gender roles in general? Like sexuality, these roles within a relationship are fluid and ever-changing. One person doesn’t have to do one specific chore, or act a certain way because of their sex. For S and I, all that matters is that our condo – and life – isn’t burning down. I imagine this to be a similar and common thought when it comes to other relationships and marriages across the globe. There are plenty of straight, uber-masculine men that can sew, cook, and clean, and a great deal of women who enjoy getting their hands dirty, and who could teach any man a thing or two inside a garage. The traditional views of the inner-workings of a relationship are slowly fading, and my hope is that by acknowledging the fluidity of gender roles – across any type of relationship – we can stop answering a question like “So, who’s the girl in the relationship?”

Playing with Fire

A handful of months back, I asked my husband to help me with one of my entries for Gays in the Life. I had the crazy idea to write a blog entry where we shared our pet peeves, and talked openly about the things that secretly drive us crazy when it comes to one another. He let out an incredulous laugh, and then proceeded to ask “is that a good idea?” I believed deep down that it was a good idea, but perhaps my inner artist was feeling a little too hungry. Writing a blog entry like this with my husband could offer a fun, real, and honest peek into our marriage and everyday life, but I wondered if my ambitious spirit was approaching an edge that we – because I’d have to consider his feelings, along with mine – weren’t quite ready to dance upon. Would I be taking a bite out of something we couldn’t quite chew? Issues we couldn’t quite swallow?

Almost all of my friends were in and out of relationships before I met my husband. Having a front row seat to every argument, scolding, and various other quibbles helped me realized that, depending on the couple, the smallest annoyance could cause a relationship to crumble, crash, and burn. Remembering those couples and scrolling through memories of their successful, or failed, relationships ignited my current thoughts on whether or not our relationship – our fresh marriage – could survive knowing each other’s hidden pet peeves. Obviously I would say my marriage could survive, but we have to keep a realistic view in regards to our relationships with ourselves – inside the marriage – and as one unit; because every moment isn’t peaches and cream. At this point, we know what sets each other off, but these triggers were discovered as our relationship developed over the years.

Knowing if, and when, the truth is too much, is another factor that should be considered. Initially when I was playing with the idea of doing this joint piece with my husband, the spirit was light and fun, with no thoughts of potential darkness in mind.  Couples can be one hundred percent open, and still have things they keep to themselves. S’s questioning whether or not the unborn blog entry was a good idea bred life to this notion, and invited a small amount of darkness and negativity into my well-intended burst of creativity. Surely we, of all couples, could survive knowing what makes the other tick like a time-bomb, right? The answer to that question would depend on what each trigger was, and the only way to obtain the answer, is to actually move forward with my plan – for the joint blog entry – and discuss them. It’s a devilishly hilarious thing, and the answer remains unknown.

Bored.

Tuesday nights he has class. Any other night, he gets home about an hour after I do, and the usual weeknight routine of hanging out and decompressing on the couch together commences. Best Coast plays in the background as I sit here at the kitchen table; trying my best to think of something to do, or decide which band I should listen to next on Tidal. Boredom hits me pretty hard every once in a while, and most of the time will guide me in a very unproductive and lazy direction. This was almost one of those instances, but some nagging energy from within managed to place my ass in this chair in front of this computer screen.

“What to do, what to do?” Tonight was the first night I went walking, solo, on the trail near our condo. The weather was too charming for me not to get an extra workout in, and despite violent winds, I enjoyed my hour stroll around Eagle Creek. “Now what?” I’m glad we canceled our cable, because even the streaming services were failing me, and YouTube was not piquing my interest in the slightest. “I guess I’ll shower.” I showered because I was bored, and continued to avoid cleaning the refrigerator; something I’ve been meaning to do for the past few weeks. The intensity of my walk was no more than that of walking a dog, so a shower most definitely was not a need, but it was something to do. “I wish he were home… then at least he could be in charge of picking what show we watch… or we could play Mario Kart… Do I want to play Mario Kart?

Significant others, boyfriends, or girlfriends make the time pass easier during these bored moments. I can’t stand being bored and alone, because I can never decide what I want to do.  “What do you want to do?” is a common response to him asking me “What do you want to do?” At least if he were here, being lame and bored with me, I’d have someone to interact with while scrolling through Netflix listings. No activity, show, or chore sounds remotely appealing at the moment, so sitting here listening to music and attempting to write something seems to be the best way to battle boredom’s persistent energy. I have one hour or so until S walks through the door. Let’s see if I can finish this post by then.

The Wedding

“All I know is, when I get married, I will be in a Chanel suit…” is what I would say amongst friends when we would fantasize about weddings of our respective futures.  I never knew if I wanted a big ceremony, a small event, or to run away and elope, but what I did want was that top-of-the-roller-coaster-before-the-big-drop feeling. That feeling was boldly present on May 16th, 2014, the day of our wedding.

Being married to a CPA has its perks, and the ability to budget money well was a big one. We didn’t believe in placing ourselves in debt for a wedding, or placing unnecessary stress on our families. Why follow the “go big or go home” theory for a single (wedding) day if it would only invite stress into the marriage the day after the honeymoon? The important thing was joining our lives; to officially become one. A larger scaled celebration of our relationship could wait, so for now, we were happy with our decision to marry in a courthouse, with a few of our closest local friends as witnesses.

The mild, warning rain that threatened the day was welcomed as we made the drive from Indianapolis to Champaign, Illinois. “Rain on a wedding day means renewal… this is good” was my thought as I gazed out the window. The excitement in the car grew with every mile we placed behind us as we continued our approach to Champaign and the courthouse. When we arrived, we met the last member of our wedding party at The Courier Café; a delicious little breakfast spot popular among the students of the University of Illinois.

After brunch we made our way to the courthouse. I’ve never been a nervous person but the nerves began to make their presence know the closer we got to the main doors. “Omg you guys my knife! I can’t take it inside!” G digs a small grave for her pocket knife under a tree just outside the courthouse doors. Our wedding party was the perfect mix of individuals. I’d met G working at Goodwill back in Bloomington. E was one of my best friends, of ten years, and had the daunting task of picking up our rings and delivering them to us the DAY before the wedding. SB and SC were also two amazing friends I’d had the pleasure of knowing for ten years – SB was a student in Champaign, and SC volunteered his photography services for the big day.

There we were, in the courtroom, the judge’s warm voice instructing us on what was about to happen. Enter the nerves. G was crying, E looked longingly into both our eyes – of all the people with us that day, she knew me the best – and all the others were beautiful. I never knew what my wedding day would be like, but in this moment I was beyond happy that these were the people I got to share this day with.  What happened next was a blur. I remember saying my vows and then repeating them – stealing S’s turn because apparently I was nervous – shaking with each word I shared. Then it was done. We were married.

The night that followed was priceless. Everything was so simple and so easy. M made us the cleanest most delicious, layered, red velvet, gluten-free wedding cake. SO good. The girls and I powdered our noses before heading to our hotel, where the pre-gaming for a night at the bars would take place.  There’s so much pressure put on the process of a wedding. Was everyone as lucky as S and I? We were never stressed in any moment, the night was flawless, and we had a great time with people we loved.

Returning home the next day to a bouquet of white roses was the absolute icing on the cake. I don’t know if my friends know this about me, but white flowers are my weakness. There’s something about them that make me melt and dance inside; like a ballerina riding a fiery avalanche.  Only this group of people – my beloved, and highly valued musketeers of Bloomington’s past and present – would know how to make S and I’s day effortlessly perfect. We thank them for helping us skyrocket into this new chapter of our life.

Whine & Cheese

Why must romance plateau after moving in with one another? “We hang out all the time” was his counter after I hinted at wanting a date-night in the near future. Lying in bed, and keeping my voice at a neutral tone, my twisted face is hidden in the darkness as I process his response to my inquisition. I’m a self-proclaimed cheeseball, so the slightest touch of romance shared between the two of us completely satisfies me for a long while. Do I keep asking for a date? Do I wait around and sulk? Should I take the initiative, plan a romantic day, and lead by example? I guess I could, instead of waiting around like some pissed off Disney princess. Restaurants and creative, thoughtful nights on the town are more than appreciated, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple walk in the park on a beautiful day, or a day of exploration together in the city. Maybe he just doesn’t get it… a classic case of the romantic and the non-romantic.

Tick. Tock. I Love You.

Three years ago, this evening, our relationship presented itself as something new.  It was New Years Eve in my cozy, cheer-filled apartment. I had one of my best friends in town – visiting from Los Angeles – amazing roommates, a great chunk of friends I had made working at the Goodwill Store, and him. I was so happy S had come down from Indy to celebrate the holiday with us. At the time, we’d only officially been boyfriends for a little over two months, and were an hour apart during the work week.  About thirty minutes or so before midnight, we found ourselves alone in my bedroom. “…I’m scared” I express as I look past him nervously and prop myself up on my elbow.  Lying next to me, he puts one hand behind his head, and the other around my arm.  “Why?”  He looks worried as he presents the single-worded question.  I shift. “I think I love you.” The second it took him to respond felt like agonizingly long minutes passing on a clock. “I love you too” he grins looking directly into my eyes.

When is the right time to say “I love you” to a person of interest? Our exchange that night was not planned, and I honestly had not thought about the subject at all.  We were still a very new couple, but there was something in the air that evening that made me want to share my feelings with him.  Society programs young adults in so many ways when it comes to saying “I love you.” We absorb the lessons we learn – or think we’re learning – from relationships we’ve witnessed in the past, and think we have to apply them to our own relationships.  Whether it’s too soon or long overdue to share those guarded words are up to the individual that possess the feelings.  When I think back on that night, I recognize that the timing was right.  Our relationship didn’t feel like work – I say that a lot, but it’s true – I was always excited to see him, always wondering how his day went, counting down the days until we were together again… the love was building before I even thought about saying it.

Workout for What?

When one is single, working out and staying in shape is important for the wrong reasons. Most will say that it’s for their health and wellness, and mask the fact that they’re sweating it out to better their chances of hooking up come time to play the field.  I recognize that there are people who take their health and fitness seriously, but during the partying years?..  Let’s be real, everyone has ass on the mind.  If not for health and wellness, does the reason for exercise change when you land that special someone?

Something happens when you become one with another; at least it did for me. Before S, I was a heavier guy, and legitimately began working out and dieting to add years to my life. Now that I’m married, I find myself working harder than I had before on my health and overall fitness.  My reason for working out, in addition to general health, is to maintain my attractiveness for my husband. I get off knowing that I look good, and even more so when I know it’s for him and our relationship. Hey now, I work out for me too! I love working out in the morning, and gain so much energy going into my day. I even workout on weekends to keep my energy on the up and up.

I’ve come a long way from refusing to run in gym class back in high school, to doing cardio, yoga, and strength training five to six times a week. S has gone through his own fitness transformation as well, but doesn’t possess the cocky confidence that I do. Even when I was a bigger guy – pushing three hundred pounds – I could work with what I had and still pursued guys without hesitation.  I love when I catch guys eyeing my husband, and how he doesn’t even notice. What I love more is when other, thirsty, guys realize what they have to get through before they can get to S.

I find it entertaining that even after you’ve entered a serious relationship, you still have to maintain what you had once worked so hard to obtain, to keep your prize. By no means am I saying that you need to be in shape to keep a partner. We share numerous cheat days and battle the scale together now – after falling off our low carb wagon here and there – and gain great pleasure when we notice changes in each other physically.  Earlier I said that working out, as a single partier type, was done for the wrong reasons. When it comes down to it, maybe working out (then) for the approval and validation of others is just practice… We say we do it for ourselves, to make ourselves feel better, but eventually all that nonsense, worry, and stress turns into the very elixir that provides us the power to keep a comfortable grip on what we’ve achieved.

Cruised

The shower area of the gym is steamy, warm, and a most welcome feeling with the chill of winter’s approach outside. I towel off in the shower stall so I don’t track a pool of water into my private changing area, before I notice the tanned, dusty-haired, blonde that had been making eyes at me across cardio equipment. He’s an attractive guy – beefy, with body hair in all right places, and an ass that looks like it could feed a small family – but I tend to lean more towards dark-haired men, and let’s not forget that I’m off the market. Our shower and changing rooms were right next to each other, and there are only three showers so the space between the two is small. Removing his towel so only his front was covered, he offers carnal grin. “Good morning” he says, still holding the towel with only a couple fingers just under his navel; revealing a wet torso and thighs. “Good morning. Did you have a good workout?” I know exactly what he’s up to, so I slip into my changing room and calmly close the half door. Making sure the door doesn’t slam, I leave him alone and exposed in the small area between shower and changing room. I begin to dry off as he answers my question, and the small talk continues the entirety of my getting dressed. Fully dressed I make my way out of the changing stall. “See you tomorrow” he flirts with another grin. “Later! Have a good day.” My inner Beyonce tends to surface after all of my workouts – various songs of hers play in my head (complete with choreography) when I notice changes in my body as I’ve already lost 100 lbs – making me feel strong, awake, and confident going into the work day. The influence of Scorpio season and the fact that I had just been cruised at the gym had my inner Queen Bey slaying the stage; dropping it like it was hot all the way to the car. It wasn’t even 7AM yet! I can’t wait to tell S what happened.

STRAIGHT

Forbidden fruit comes in the form of the heterosexual male.  During my time in the closet – from eighth grade until about three weeks into my college career – I had plenty of secret crushes on straight friends that I knew I could not have.  I strongly believe that it’s this time in the closet that causes the craving for a straight guy to brew and reach extremely potent levels.  I remember when guys would ask me “what I was looking for” in a guy – in various gay dating chat rooms – and I would simply respond with the descriptor: “straight-acting.”  What does that even mean?! That description is still frequently tossed around in regular conversation amongst gay friends. Stereotypically speaking, the term “straight-acting” represents a heterosexual guy who is macho, strong, and handy, is into sports, and doesn’t mind getting dirty; someone that can wrestle in a godly fashion. The picture next to my interpretation of the definition would be an image of thick, burly, muscular lumberjacks; complete with tight denim and a big axes.  He would be a bearded, gloriously-sweaty – Gaston from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – or a Gerard Butler type of guy.

Little did I know then, that I would end up with my “straight-acting” guy.  It’s always an adventure with S, especially now that we live under one roof.  My daily interests revolve around the performing arts – having played music from a young age – Pinterest boards, organizing our closet, and stressing about the growing bald spot at the back of my head.  S will spend the entire college basketball off-season counting down to the first game of the next season. He grew up on a farm with real chores – raising horses and cleaning stalls – and can change the oil on his own car.  You’d think that being from Alaska I would be a better outdoors person, but he takes the cake in that area too.  We went hiking once with friends, and I spent the entire time running from ticks. Occasionally I’ll get in his car and he’ll have it tuned to a sports radio show. “What’s this?” was the question I would ask with the look of instant boredom smeared across my face. He would then proceed to laugh and let me plug in Spotify; set to the “Radiohead Radio” station most likely. I imagine S probably has the same look on his face when I turn on an episode of ABC’s “Scandal.”   Since our beginning, I have joked with friends and family about S being my “straight curse.”  Every day I gain life from the gifts my curse provides… for this I will be forever thankful.