A New Kind of Date

Mother Nature gave us a bit of a scare over the weekend. Earlier in the week we’d planned to have a Starbucks date, where we’d both work on personal projects or career focused activities. Indianapolis did get rocked by a little weather, so our Saturday cafe productivity session got moved to Sunday.

 

We’ve been holding ourselves accountable, so far, in 2018. S and I have plans and feel that it’s time for the both of us to take control of our professional and creative futures. Making time for dates during the week can be challenging when you’re fighting the weight of the day’s work, so a weekend dose of productivity with each other felt like a great move for us.

 

The important thing here is finding a way to make time for each other and to support one another. We pinpointed a newer location on our side of town and stuck to our commitment. I got a ton of PR work done and S made some major moves on the career front. I’m hoping we can make this a regular thing.

 

The both of us are so motivated and energized about what’s next right now, and harvesting that continued support of your partner – of each other –  just puts us in overdrive.

 

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Sure, dates are supposed to be sexy and romantic, but the idea of fueling each others’ professional and creative drive is kind of a turn on, right? Even if you’re single and only focusing on you at the moment… find your support system. Parents? Siblings? Your own circle of VIPs? Who is that person that will help you hold yourself accountable at the end of the day?

 

Think outside of the box and get that productive, quality time in 😉

3 Years A Husband.

Anniversaries happen every year, yet I’m still unsure where the time goes so quickly. “So, does being married feel any different?” I’ll ask good friends after receiving a save-the-date magnet – I know they aren’t technically married yet, but come on – or during their wedding receptions.  It’s a question we got from family and friends after our courthouse ceremony.

Being married feels no different to us and I never expected it would. We’re the same two schmoes that met in a wild and crazy bar during our college years, but sure, we’ve calmed way down in the party category. While we now have a legal title, everything feels as it did when we first became boyfriends in Fall 2011; fun and mostly light (lol).

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Remember, not all relationships are the same. Having each other and keeping up with our joint goals is enough to drive our relationship and keep us flourishing. Nine times out of ten we are on the same page when it comes to any topic within our marriage. And if we aren’t? We take some time to discuss and get to the bottom of it.

A big factor that’s been adding to our relationship recently is encouragement. We’ve always pushed each other to do our best in all aspects of life, but it became extremely important this past year and a half when we ran into challenges in the corporate world. Wishing anything for an opportunity to run away from angst and frustration, we were able to keep each other focused and sane. I’m not sure how I would make some of the decisions that come my way without S.

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We truly take each day at a time. If there were some super secret to share, believe me, I would. I can count on one hand how many fights we’ve had in our almost six years together and we won’t be adding to that number anytime soon. I will say this: Keep each other level. It’s amazing what happens when balance is present in a relationship.

We’ll see what new lesson I’ve learned when year four is upon us.

Morning Paper

This dude… I swear. Looking down at the bare cardboard tissue roll, I sigh silently with an eye roll towards the bedroom. Does he think no one else will need toilet paper after he’s completely emptied the roll? Is it so hard to just bring more tissue up to the restroom? Or is going all the way downstairs to use the fully stocked restroom counted as exercise? In a zombielike state – it’s 6 o’clock in the morning, mind you – I travel down the chilly, air conditioned stairway and fetch a fresh roll of Charmin. The next time he does this, I’m NOT replacing the roll. I will stay strong and see if he puts the fresh roll of tissue paper in it’s proper place. I’ve thought this to myself countless times since we’ve lived together, and the joke’s still on me. The closest he gets to refilling the tissue is sitting the new roll on the counter; leaving the emptied roll on the holder. Wowzers. All I can do is laugh, as I’m positive I have a number of at-home-habits that drive him insane.

G r i n d r

Grindr has been something that’s been off my phone for at least three years now. A few weeks back, I decided to put it back on my phone, just to take an innocent peek at what was going on these days on the app. Remember: Communication is key. “I feel like we’re comfortable enough in our relationship and marriage that we can both put Grindr back on our phones.” I’d been thinking about putting the app back on my phone, out of pure boredom, to browse on breaks at work, or just to peer into the scandalous lives of Indy’s thirstiest queens, hungry bears, and the romantic hopefuls who still try to meet honest guys on these hookup apps. Bringing up any and all feelings as they come up has always been a strong suit of mine in relationships, and this was no different. S agreed with my thought, and so here I am.

Back when S and I were only months into our relationship, I’d freak out, and act extremely possessive if I saw the app’s reflection in his glasses. Typical Scorpio behavior – acting absolutely insane, insecure, and powerless at the thought that I may’ve not been the center of his attention at that point. Flash forward to today, where I’m off and on the app a few times a week, pushing Gays in the Life, and striking up conversation with a handful of decent human beings. I have no judgement against people on apps like these. I once was a regular user, and had my share of fun via Grindr’s services, but that time is done. When did I begin to see Grindr as a marketing tool? Oh, how my times have changed. After mentioning I’m married, the follow up inquiries usually consist of the other user wanting to meet the both S and I  – keep in mind my profile picture is just me, and my name on the app is the blog title – or they’ll want to see pictures. “We respectfully decline, but you can read more about our adventures at Gaysinthelife.wordpress.com” is my standard response.
S and I openly talk about the attractiveness of other guys in each other’s presence. It’s not this taboo topic, or fuel for the fire, when we’re both watching a show and one of us says “he’s hot.” We have fun teasing each other in these situations, and enjoy being in a relaxed and mature relationship. “Of course you would think he’s hot…” is a regular, and shared, response when one of us comments on some eye candy.  There’s never a malicious or suspicious tone. We’ve learned each other, and we have fun with that fact. S and I are both regular listeners of Dan Savage’s weekly podcast, Savage Lovecast, and realize that at the end of the day, it’s about that works for us in our situation. I’ve made a couple online friends via Grindr, and make it a point not to frequent the app. My profile says everything it needs to, and one of these days, we’ll actually make it out to a bar or event to grow our gay-friend bubble.  

We’re More Than Friends from School. We’re Married.

The four of us sat in a group at the front of the funeral hall. It was visitation for my husband’s late grandmother, Mae, who’d passed peacefully at her nursing home a few days earlier. The mood was somber, tense, and was haunted by all the happy memories Grandma Mae had left behind. I’d only met her a couple of times, but those moments were enough. “…and this is my husband, Jamal.” There was a power in that introduction, and because of it, I’ll never forget those first few minutes of meeting Grandma Mae. My husband and I had been together almost four years, and I’d never heard anyone from his side of the family refer to me as “husband.”

Time and small talk took a moment, as my husband’s mother and father approached.  “Come meet the kids! You remember David, and his wife Alice…” His mother continued with a smile. “…and our youngest, Stanley, and his friend from school, Jamal.” I smiled, gave a polite nod to the cheerful strangers, and felt phantom burning around my wedding band. I’d come to expect this introduction in any situation that involved meeting friends of my parent-in-laws. In the past I’d let it slide – chalking it up to their old school ways, and not really knowing how to introduce their son’s husband to familiar faces – but this time, the word “friend” really got me thinking.


I wondered why being referred to as “friend” was bothering me now. To villainize my in-laws is not my intention. The number of favors and help they’ve provided my husband and I, is beyond anything I could ever imagine for us in any time of need. Was I being introduced this way as some subtle form of protection? Is the term “husband” one that is uncomfortable for them in uncharted social territory? I still don’t have the answer to those questions, and they’ve haunted my curiosity ever since.

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?”

The Last Slice

“NO! You have to save that piece to eat on your first anniversary!” M’s voice filled our kitchen with both protest and excitement. The gluten-free, red-velvet, cream-cheese-frosted cake she had made for our wedding day was beyond delicious, and I wanted nothing more than to take another bite out of the lonely slice of its remains. This Saturday is my husband and I’s first marriage anniversary, and that last piece of delicious memorabilia – that’s been hiding under alcohol and frozen meat – has survived the year and would meet its end come May 16th.  I wasn’t familiar with the cake tradition at all until M shared it with us that day in our kitchen, and the pending arrival of our first anniversary has me wondering if holding on to that one, last piece of cake means something. Out of sight out of mind is the notion that comes to mind almost immediately. “The first year of marriage is the hardest” is what every tells you when you tie the knot, and much like our frozen slice of wedding cake, married life blinked right by us in a time-warped state of reality. Has it really already been a year? I guess this slice of cake will be even better than tasting it for the first time, because it’s serving as some kind of reward for getting through our first year as husbands. Our relationship has always been smooth sailing; crossing choppy waters here and there, but never truly rocking the boat. As I think about eating this cake, exactly a year from when I tried to finish it off, a dormant excitement is awakened. I haven’t taken the time at all to note, or keep track of anything we’ve done during our first year of marriage! We did move from our one-bedroom apartment to a lofted condo, AND we are expecting our first fur child – a rat terrier puppy we plan to name Reynold, and who’s a direct descendant of S’s family dog. This first year of marriage has been out of sight and out of mind. It was a good year, and eating this cake will give us a great excuse to reflect and really honor our first year of marriage. I want to thank M for sharing this tradition with the both us, because come this Saturday finishing the cake we started a year ago will mean so much to both my husband, and myself.

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.