Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's just a feeling

After two months (and one week), our place finally sold. We're almost done with the details of the sale, just waiting for the buyers' financing to go through, which our realtor says won't be a problem.

Now, I'm about to take one of the biggest steps of my life- buying a house with the person I love.

I wonder if it's just me feeling all the excitement and the jitters.

I do try to mark the milestones in my life, whenever they come along, in a serious and mindful way.

It wasn't until Brad that I decided that I could commit myself, in the form of a public ceremony, to anyone, even after several long term relationships prior to him.

I also celebrated getting my degrees- undergrad, Master's and Ph.D. After all, people from my little town just didn't do those things and god knows I wasn't sure I was smart enough back then. So when I did it, each time, I was grateful and surprised.

Mindfulness was one of those concepts that once I learned about it through my studies of buddhist philosophy and meditation training, that had immediate meaning for me.

It's like standing in the center of a moment, just being there, feeling it, and not overthinking it.

It's not easy to put aside worry about what's going to happen. Not when you're from a long line of worriers, that is.

But I do have an appreciation for the big moments at least and I try to relish them.

So, I'm trying to relish this moment right now. I'm about to commit myself and my resources to this relationship with Brad so that we can own a home together.

It must seem silly to someone who got married young, took that first stepright away and began the who childbearing thing before they were old enough to know how serious it all is.

Straight people are so lucky in some ways to have a lot of the milestones kind of figured out for them. There's school and dating, and then getting engagement, having a career and then children. Maybe not in that exact order, but close enough. Yes, I know that there's pressure there, especially if you don't reach a milestone in a timely way ("What? you're 30 and still not pregnant?").

For me, I had to spend so much time detangling my brain from all the stuff I was taught that didn't really apply, that achieving milestones at all was something I celebrated.

And having a healthy relationship wasn't easy either since I didn't have one as a model growing up. When that's the case, you spend time both undoing the wrong stuff you learned about how people should treat each other and then trying to figure out what "healthy" relationships really are.

After that, it's about finding someone else who has done the work on themselves enough to want to work through it together.

So, buying a house to me isn't really about buying a house: it's about accepting the responsibility to be in love, to make a committment and to finally say to yourself "my life now is worth staying here."

Having said all that, we are looking at places.

We've had no real strategy for how we look.

Brad wants to stay in the general area, somewhere here on the Peninsula, like Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont and maybe southern San Mateo.

We'd each like a place to park our car, and I'd LOVE an office (that's not a guest room too).

Beyond that, a view would be nice. An end unit with only one shared wall if any. An easy place to walk Ella. And maybe a large patio or small yard for flowers and veggies.

More of a feeler than a thinker, my strategy has been to walk into a place, stand there, look around and check the "gut".

For the third time, we've been hovering around a townhouse, just up the street from us.

The UP sides of this place: Spectacular hilltop view of the Bay, a room that could be a great office for me, and a dog trail close by. We both like it and would be happy there.

The DOWN sides: original kitchen, bathrooms and carpet.

The BIG down side: the owner wants about 50K more than we can afford.

Keep us in your thoughts as we hold our breath and see if we can figure out a way to make it work.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Raymond and Russell

Brad and I have some good friends in Fresno, California, Ed and Jay, that we see fairly regularly either on one of their frequents trips to San Francisco for a weekend in the city, or when we drive down there for a quick weekend away.

Brad met Jay and Ed while he was an undergraduate at Fresno State University at one of the local gay bars and he had lost touch with them for many years until a few years back when Jay called out of the blue to reconnect.  I've enjoyed getting to know them both since they're successful and chic, but very down- to- earth and fun.

About a year ago, on one of their outings to San Francisco, they brought along some friends (in a big van!) to help enjoy the long weekend.  That particular group included two amazing fellows, Raymond and Russell, a gay couple in their 80's who have been together almost 30 years now.  We had a wonderful dinner with our big group in San Francisco and I was frankly amazed at Raymond and Russell's energy and enthusiasm as we moved from dinner to after dinner cocktails at one of the Castro's hippest spots, Lime, and at midnight, Raymond couldn't stop moving to the thundering house music!  All that evening, they told us fascinating stories about their lives as gay men, before they were together, how they met, and the almost 30 years since that day.  I sat there just in awe of their candor and the incredible history of gays in America through their personal experiences.

Here's a few nuggets that Jay and I pieced together from their stories.

Eighty four year old Raymond came out at a fairly young age and he recalls that his mother believed that homosexuality was an illness that could be cured with penicillin.  He was one of the few "out" people in Fresno as a young adult, and he worked as a hairdresser.  He's only had three "long term" relationships in his life, but there was a time when he was quite "busy" sexually, according to his own stories, especially before AIDS.

Russell, now 87, never came out to his family.  He was in the military for a while and then became an attache for the US Government in Thailand before returning to Los Angeles where he worked for the city of LA before he retired.

Raymond and Russell met in a bar they affectionately dubbed "The Wrinkle Room" in Santa Monica in the early 80's and it was love at first sight.  They've been together ever since.

A few weekends ago, we went back to Fresno for a visit, and I was determined to captured some of their sparkle on some video.  Ed and Jay hosted a dinner for us and invited Rick and David and Raymond and Russell over and we spent the evening having cosmos and encouraging R & R to tell us some stories.

Here's one of the favorites on how they met.  Raymond is one on the left (farthest away) and Russell is on the right.  Russell begins the story.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Even in the Heartland

I'm amazed and pleased today that gays can marry in Iowa.

There's something very special about the fact that it can happen in the middle of America.

By a stunning 7-0 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court made civil rights the issue again.

And what makes this even more promising is the fact that unlike in California, civil rights can't be denied by a simple majority vote of the people.

In Iowa, there is no initiative process (thank god) and to add something so devastating and negative as Prop 8 is in California, the people of Iowa would first have to have a constitutional amendment pass the state legislature TWICE before it could even be placed on the ballot.

Now that makes so much more sense doesn't it?

Ok, so maybe you don't trust your legislators.  And maybe you think that you know better.

But the truth is, sometimes you do and sometimes you don't.

Who would have thought that in my haven of California, anti-American zealots could vote to revise the California constitution by a simple majority vote?  

I get that issues like taxes and bonds are important and maybe it is a good thing to hear our voice more directly about where our money goes.

But it just blows my mind that this California Supreme court didn't understand that allowing the majority (of the people who voted mind you) to encode discrimination was a MAJOR REVISION of the constitution, not an amendment.

I mean, I'm not a lawyer, but if the constitution guarantees the civil rights of all of its citizens and then a simple majority of the voters should not be allowed to add a discriminatory clause to the constitution since it clearly contradicts the intention of the document, making it a REVISION!!

Another scarier way to look at this:  approximately 13 million votes were cast in the November 2008 election in California.  There are around 23 million registered voters here.  The total population of California is close to 34 million people

That means that around 56% of the registered voters intended to take away rights that were already in place by California Supreme Court decree.  Mind you, the court's job is to determine both what our constitution says, but also to uphold fairness in a country founded on freedom for all.

Here's the biggest rub to me- only 38% of the population of California voted to take away my rights when you consider the entire population, but their vote took away my rights.

Yes, I know that many non-voters are children.  But many aren't.  Some are undocumented. Some are infirm and cannot get to the polling places.  This is an American problem as well as a California problem.

I'm anticipating that our lame California Supreme Court will decided to wash their hands of this mess and give us a partial victory, partial defeat.  Brad and I will be allowed to stay married since we took the plunge before the vote.  But I think they'll also decide that this vote was an "amendment" and not a revision, so that 38% of Californians can decide to offend whomever they please.

Come on people!  We're not talking about putting a lid on property taxes.  Or funding school development.  Or paving our freeways.

We're talking about fundamental rights.

The California initiative process is broken.

It's time to fix it...before your rights are taken away too.