Mother

Mother: You never were afraid of me. Your sister and your brother, I think they are still afraid of me. They are so conventional. I frightened them into conventionality. So afraid of making a mistake. I had to be careful not to push them.

Me: You weren’t frightening. You were never angry at any of us. I think [brother] and [sister] are just timid. And you do have an overpowering personality.

Mom: They did things right because they were afraid of what I would say or do if they did them wrong. They were perfectionists in a by-the-book way. Not you. You were never like that. Never afraid to make a mistake. Never afraid to challenge me. Never afraid to challenge anyone. I don’t think you ever cared what I thought.

Me: That’s not true. I cared very much what you thought.

Mom: Nonsense. You did things right because you got pleasure from doing things right. Pleasing me never entered your mind.

Me: No, I was never afraid of you. There was never anything to be afraid of.

Mother: But you were so afraid of me about the most important thing in your life.

Me: I wasn’t afraid of you. I was afraid of losing you. Of losing our family. It’s the most important thing in the world to me. Well, now it’s the second most important thing in the world.

I just knew what you believed. The Church doesn’t accept it and you wouldn’t accept it.

Mother: Was it just the Church? That I would follow the Church? I wasn’t happy when you left the Church, but I accepted it.

Me: No, it wasn’t just the Church. I knew how you felt about it yourself. We were in Seattle –

Mother: Oh, no! The women kissing! I said something, didn’t I? I regretted it the moment I said it. Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.


Me: I’m sorry. I underestimated you. I never thought you would accept that I am a lesbian. I should have come out years ago.

Mother: You didn’t underestimate me. I wouldn’t have accepted it.

Me: But you did.

Mother: I never would have accepted it in the abstract. If you had come home any time and told me, “Mother, I’m a lesbian,” I would not have accepted it, even last year. I can’t say what I would have done, but I know that I could not have accepted it, not as I have. I doubt that I would ever have agreed to meet one of your girlfriends. It would have been forever a wall between us.

But meeting CA changed that. She put a face to it. Sitting here, talking all afternoon, having dinner, seeing what a wonderful woman she is, seeing what she means to you, having it slowly dawn on me that you two are in love. Having her so forthrightly admit her love for you. How can a mother resist that for her daughter?

Me: So stop regretting anything! If I had come out earlier, I never would have met CA.

Pride: A paradox

Pride, to me, is pleasure in one’s achievements, or pleasure in the achievement of another. Pride in a genetic gift, or from anything else one has no control over? That, to me, would be conceit or vanity.

I’m very intelligent. I’m not proud of that, nor am I ashamed of it. My intelligence was a gift from my parents and from God. I am proud of what I have done with my intelligence. I would be ashamed if I did not use it to the fullest.

My fiancée’s intelligence is formidable. I’m not proud – or ashamed – of her for it. I am proud of her formidable accomplishments with her intelligence.

Similarly, I’m not proud (or ashamed) of my (or my fiancée’s) body, although I do take some pride in keeping myself in shape. And I certainly take pleasure in my fiancée’s body (and in her pleasure in my body).


When I was young, I fought being a lesbian. When I became an adult, I buried it. But I have never been ashamed of being a lesbian. I just am a lesbian.

Now, I’m glad I’m a lesbian. If I had the choice, I would choose to be a lesbian.

I’m not proud that I’m a lesbian. I didn’t do anything to make myself a lesbian. I just am a lesbian.


My lesbianism hasn’t been heroic.

I grew up in the most conservative part of one of the most conservative states. A state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage passed by a two-to-one majority – three-to-one in my county. When I lived there, I was deeply in the closet.

But I was never afraid, and I’m not afraid now that I am out of the closet. I’m not even afraid to walk down the main street of the tiny, rural town where I grew up, holding my fiancée’s hand.


Lesbianism has been heroic for many.

I am proud of the lesbians who have gone before me, whose lesbianism was heroic.


My ability to just be a lesbian – without shame or fear – owes everything to those who can justly take pride in being lesbians. To be slightly paradoxical about it, I am proud of them – and they should take pride in themselves – for my lack of pride.

 

For Mother’s Day

I’ve had more serious conversations with my mother since coming out than I had in my whole life before coming out. After 20 years of building a wall, I’m tearing it down. And I’ve found a friend on the other side.

I’ve never called my mother, “Mom.” Always, “Mother.” Until now.

She’s no longer forbidding, distant. She’s become a friend. A confidante.

For Mother’s Day: Mom, I love you.

Merry Christmas

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.


For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Life happens

Life has been busy. Buying and starting to renovate an apartment, finding a donor, going home for Thanksgiving, wedding planning, …

We’ve bought an apartment.

It’s in a building built before the first World War. It has a lot of interesting details, – dental moldings on the ceiling, parquet floors, an insulated wine closet. It’s big, although not as big as our wildest dreams. A bedroom for us, two smaller bedrooms for kids or guests, an office/library for my Love and her books, a small office for me, a living room, a dining room and a kitchen.

Buying it was complicated. As I’ve mentioned, the board of a cooperative apartment building has to approve any transfer, and they can be very intrusive if they want. Boards normally require several years of tax returns and asset statements. I’ve earned at New York levels less than a year. My Love’s business requires a ridiculous level of security and confidentiality, to the extent that she can’t give a board the information it usually requires. We can easily afford the apartment and the monthly maintenance charge, and fortunately the board was pragmatic rather than a stickler for protocol.

We haven’t moved in yet. It’s a complete wreck. It has to be almost completely rebuilt; all the walls have major cracks and the ceilings in two of the rooms have collapsed. There’s water damage all over the place.

And we’re ripping out the kitchen and consolidating it with a small bedroom (what they call a “maid’s room” here in NY) to make the kitchen of our dreams.

The design work is done and we’re getting bids. It’s interesting for me personally to be an owner. We needed an engineer for the kitchen design; hiring one was particularly amusing.

We’ve found a donor.

My fiancée has thrown herself into pregnancy planning.

This is bizarrely uncharacteristic. It’s funny, actually. Or it would be, if the potential for disaster were not so high:

  1. She is a force of nature. When she gets the bit between her teeth, there’s no stopping her.
  2. Never having planned anything, she has no idea how to go about it.
  3. She has the best part of a year to waste spend on this.

It’s like being in Tornado Alley with a thunderstorm on the way. You know there’s going to be havoc, you just don’t know where it’s going to hit.

She has scored some early successes. She’s proposed a donor (this time with the potential to help us). It’s a guy who once proposed marriage to her. (She turned him down.)

I initially rejected this. It’s just too weird. But I’ve met him now, and, for a lot of reasons, it turns out not to be weird at all. I just hope that, if we have a girl, she looks like my Love.

Wedding planning is progressing.

On the other hand, she’s not permitted to do any planning for our wedding. Our mothers, our sisters and I have pointedly excluded her. She’s allowed to ask questions and make requests (which have generally been excellent), but not to participate.

Her father says that makes my fiancée the man in our relationship.

We’ll let her pick her wedding dress. That’s it. She has exquisite taste in clothing. Her business has been so successful that her budget is effectively unlimited.

I’d love to have her pick my wedding dress, but, of course, that is out of the question.

The next best thing: Our sisters are coming to New York next week. First they’ll help her. Then, armed with that knowledge, they’ll help me.

We are going have a lot of fun. It will be my sister’s, and one of her sisters’, first time in New York. There’s not much room in my apartment. Either it’s going to be a big sleepover on my living room floor, or hotels.

Thanksgiving was lovely, thanks.

I’ll write more about that when I get the chance.

Faith

I intended this blog to explore my Christian faith, my traditionalist, conservative values and my love for another woman. Instead, it has exclusively addressed the last.

Partly, that’s because life with her has been such a revelation to me. Partly, it’s been that after a dozen utterly unmemorable years, my world is alive with joy and meaning that I never imagined. Partly it’s that everything in the last year has been new to me. I want to babble like a kid coming out of a movie.

But part of it is that I’ve found it difficult to express ideas about faith and values that are probably foreign to most people who read this.


One of the most startling things about New York is its pervasive secularism. Faith is as embarrassing topic as an alcoholic uncle would be back home. My Love warned me about that before I came out here, so I haven’t committed that faux pas at a fancy dinner. Still, it’s disorienting,

So I’m not sure how to address it. I don’t even know if anyone would be interested in it. If New Yorkers are any indication, I suspect most people would just click on after the first couple of sentences.


If that sounds like I’m ashamed of my faith, or afraid of what people will think, or afraid of losing followers – well, I’m not. It’s just honest perplexity.

I’m just not sure how to proceed. We don’t speak a common language. We don’t have a common cultural base.

It may just be my anecdata, but most people – believer and non-believer both – seem to stop thinking critically about God when they’re teenagers, if not before. If they think about God after that, it’s to read something that reinforces their belief – either the latest God-is-love inspirational or the latest Dawkins screed. Neither stands up to critical thought, but people aren’t looking for critical thought. They are looking for something to reinforce their uncritical thought.


I’m not condescending.

I understand that for most people, thinking critically about God isn’t as important as their job, or their kids, or the latest Bond film. It’s just not a part of daily life.

I’ve struggled with faith every day of my life. I had to. I could not accept the Catholic doctrine of my upbringing. But I could see that my argument was with Rome, not with God. It took a long time to find Him, although He was there all the time.

At 15, my fiancée became a thoroughgoing atheist. At 20, she heard the still small voice. She was just too damn self-aware and too damn logical and too damn brilliant to ignore it.

So I’m planning to write about faith. Even if you have none, I would value your attention.

She’s going to sivilize me, and I can’t stand it

I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

I am a challenge to my fiancée. She is the most cultured person on the planet. I don’t know anything about art, literature or music. Unlike Huck, I’m not going to light out for the Territory.


She took me to the opera the second time I visited her in New York. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. I was hooked. Yes it’s silly. But it’s gorgeous.

She’s taken me to Don GiovanniMacbeth, Don CarloThe Death of Klinghoffer, Ernani and Otello.

Great stuff. I’ve loved every minute. Even when the guy next to me snores.


Which brings us to Friday night.

Game 3 of the World Series.

vs

Turandot.

I was prepared to be grumpy. I wasn’t prepared to be revolted.

Go read the synopsis. It beggars belief. The three main characters:

  • A prince, the son of a deposed king.
  • A servant to the deposed king, who loves the prince because he smiled at her once and has ignored her since.
  • A princess who murders her suitors for sport, reneges on her oaths and tortures the servant to death to get information that would let her murder the prince.

But it’s all OK, because the princess, after torturing the servant to death so that she can murder the prince, falls in love with the prince. Because he’s trying to rape her.

Really. I could not make this up.

Maybe this is just a story to hang music on. Maybe it’s the product of another time and place (even if that time and place is Fascist Italy). Maybe it’s really a man-hating-feminist, smash-the-patriarchy text. But it’s vile. And stupid.

Oh, you say, one must admire the music separate from the drama. But isn’t the point of opera music plus drama? (I deduce from synopses of La Boheme and Madama Butterfly that the coherence and plausibility – even the intelligence – of the drama were not priorities for Puccini.)

The production only makes it worse. It is colossal, garish, tasteless and overripe. I felt as Martin Luther is said to have felt when he saw the opulence of the church in Rome.

Then there’s the racism.

And for this I missed a World Series game?

Am I just an uncultured lout? Is there no hope for me?


Saturday night – Halloween – she doubled down by taking me to the Philharmonic.

I could be handing out tooth-rot to the kids in my building?

I could be watching the World Series? The penultimate game of the season?

What kind of a woman would do that to me?

I’ve listened to Beethoven’s Fifth on CD. Who hasn’t? But a live performance? Extraordinary!

Also on the agenda were Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. The Mozart was lovely, but I loved the Britten.

Don’t tell her, but it was worth missing the kids and the game.