There are so many things to love about California- beautiful geography, fabulous weather, major cultural diversity. Love living next to the Bay and having mountains in my back yard. Love the right to get married and to spend time with my husband's wonderful Irish Italian family.
Friday night, Brad's brother Rob was inducted into their Catholic high school's Sports Hall of Fame. Not only did he have a successful athletic career during his teen years, playing baseball and football, but he went on to play baseball in college, play in the College World Series, and later play professionally in AAA. After that, he made the transition to coaching and managing for the Red Sox. Yes, you read it right- my brother in law is a manager for the Sox! He now has three, count 'em, three World Series championship rings (two with the Sox) as a part of management.
What impresses me most about Rob is how he remains humble about his accomplishments and a genuine loving person. It has been clear to me that despite his years on the road with professional athletes, that he loves his family (and especially his brother Brad) above all else. He could take the easy way and deny the existence of a gay brother, or barring that, giving his brother's partner in life the cold shoulder. But he doesn't. All of Brad's family is loving in a way that I never quite understood before I got here. Rob however, always makes me feel like a special part of the family, no different from his brother in law David, or his sister in law Anita. He loves me because he loves Brad and I have some role in making Brad happy.
It was a "given" that I would attend the Hall of Fame induction dinner on Friday night. Dressed in suits and ties, Brad and I joined Rob's family table to watch him accept his honor and congratulate him on his accomplishments. I have to give Brad credit where credit is due as well. Having me there couldn't have been all that easy. There were seven inductees, from different eras of the school's history including one from Brad's class of '93 for basketball. That means that Brad was going to see people from his past that would not know about his "coming out". They were likely to see our table of eight and wonder who the guy was sitting beside Brad. He didn't bat an eye and at least twice introduced me as his partner.
If you've never been to Catholic school before, especially in the burbs, there is a special bond that forms there that supercedes other forms of relationships. I went to school with the same group of people from kindergarten to the 12th grade and never formed the kind of bond that I see when Brad meets someone from the Catholic school community. Even if they attended different schools, they feel an instant affinity for each other and resonate with a familiarity that inevitably leads to a connection of some sort- families that they know in common, a particular priest that evokes respect or jokes.
My experiences have been positive in almost every instance. Without skipping a beat, Brad forthrightly introduces me as his partner, the person politely shakes my hand, and I don't detect even the slightest hesitation to resume the bonding and the catching up. I still feel a little like a cultural anthropologist, observing the emotions and the sharing. It's almost like the petty differences between all of us don't really matter when you account for all the commonalities of experiences. Maybe it's just my memory, but in the South, around all the fundamentalists, there wasn't a sense of easy acceptance of differences. If someone even suspected that you were different (heaven forbid QUEER!), there was a subtle moment of judgment first and then a wide variety of expressions of the outcome of that judgment from passive aggressive to outright hostile.
The only thing I miss from the East coast in California would have to the be the four distinct seasons. A foggy morning means Fall has just arrived.