On the Passing of Time
About a week from now, Austin and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary. (Our before-we-could-get-married anniversary, that is.) Well, if I’m honest, we probably won’t be celebrating. If we manage to remember that it’s our anniversary (which we haven’t managed to do even once yet!) we’ll be too busy recuperating from a weekend with a Bar Mitzvah in Austin’s family and a wedding in my family. At least it’s a long weekend.
We’re not big on celebrations, though. Every time I go to a wedding, I find myself thinking, “This is nice. I’m glad we didn’t do this.” I’ve sometimes wondered if my self-consciousness is a product of internalized homophobia. Austin and I don’t kiss in public, or hold hands. Not like it’s a rule or anything. If he’s been on a long trip, I’ll hug him at the airport. But we’re certainly not showy.
And that’s fine. I come from a family that doesn’t show emotion. My best friend recently told me how uncomfortable she was at my grandfather’s funeral. My family sat, pretty stone-faced, and she felt like a professional mourner, wailing at the back of the church. A few folks who have married into my family have expressed similar sentiments, so I know she’s not alone. But Austin has never said it. I think we’re the same that way.
I have occasionally felt a little jealous of people who wear their emotions on their sleeves. Couples who are affectionate in a genuine way in public. Maybe jealous is too strong of a word, and curious would be more appropriate. I’ve wondered what it would be like to be that kind of person.
Austin and I don’t have a ton of gay friends, at least not any that we see regularly. I have lots of gay friends from college, but our interactions are mostly limited to facebook these days. And I have a bunch of gay friends in my Warcraft guild, too, people whose presence I value greatly, but I don’t run into any of them at the grocery store or at preschool drop off out here in the ‘burbs. What this means is that I’ve put a little extra value on some of the gay couples I do know. I feel like we’re all in a similar boat.
It makes me a little sad, then, to look around and see fewer boats in our little ocean. In the last couple of years, a lot of the gay couples I know have gone their separate ways. Ten years is a long time. People change, and their lives go in different directions. There have been plenty of times that I’ve wanted to throw Austin overboard. I know that he’s felt the same way, because it is a lot easier to be married to Austin than it is to be married to me. There’s no comparison. (I’m done with the boat metaphors now. I promise.)
I don’t want to talk about my friends’ divorces, because they are really none of my business, but I’m sure there must be an extra layer of disappointment when a long term gay relationship ends. There are a whole lot of negative messages out there about gay people and our relationships, and our ability to have and commit to healthy relationships. Yes, we all know those messages are garbage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hear them. Alvin Lopez-Woods wrote a great piece about his divorce that was on Huffington Post last week.
I don’t want to say that Austin and I are doing something right, not just because that seems like a surefire way to bring a process server to my door with divorce papers, but also because I don’t imagine we’re doing anything differently from most other couples. We’re just lucky, I think.
So this week I feel pretty lucky.