I’ve said it before: in the past seven months, it’s been impossible for me to watch the news. I have about a 60 second window before my limit is reached, and then I just start screaming profanity at the television. (Doubtless, this makes me even more of a delight to live with than usual.) Because I can’t handle any mention of Trump (or of the institutionalized racism, misogyny, and overwhelming Continue reading “I’ll just be over here hiding under my blanket, reading.”→
If you were sitting in my living room right now and we were having coffee, it would no doubt occur to you to wonder exactly how long I stay in my pajama pants on an average day. You might even think about asking me directly, because right now it’s like one in the afternoon and to most of the world, my comfy clothes might look a lot like clinical depression. You’re probably a really caring and nurturing soul and I appreciate that, but before you jump on the bandwagon, I can assure you that everything’s all right. I’ve had a shower today. Hell, I’ve even shaved my legs and put on moisturizer. I am not depressed. If I was, my mom (whose name would have been either Frank or Earnest if she were a man) would’ve called me out on it like two seconds after it started, my cats would’ve been really pissed about their dirty litter boxes, and my husband and step-kids would’ve wanted to know where the hell their supper was, and that would’ve been that. So again, I’m not depressed. But admittedly, there are a few things contributing to the plethora of pajama pants in my possession as well as the frequency with which I wear them.
I keep my house cold enough (even in the summer) that most people need an afghan to be comfortable. (This is not at all inconvenient because I actually MAKE AFGHANS, so I have plenty and I like to share.) Since I’m either on the computer or crocheting, I can’t really cover up; the pajama bottoms mean that I don’t have to.
I have a cat who barely lands on the nice side of satanic. If I don’t wear pants that he likes to sleep on (fuzzy soft pajama bottoms), he’ll scratch my legs until I reconsider my choice. The scratching is, of course, unintentional. (Yeah.)
I’m going through a bit of a heavy phase at the moment, brought on by the purchase of Oreos, ice cream, and potato chips every week for the past six months. The pajama bottoms are among the few articles of clothing I own that still fit. The way I see it, folks should be grateful I’m wearing pants at all.
Probably none of these explanations is really good enough for you, and I have to admit that even I occasionally find my attire appalling and problematic. Mostly, these moments occur in the presence of other people. For example, there are times when I have felt truly and unfairly judged by the UPS guy. And we’re not even going to talk about the visiting 12-year-old friends of my step-son. Except to say that those kids really need to work on keeping every thought they have from crossing their faces.
Thankfully, I can at least say that in my house, I am not alone in my preference of pajama bottoms. To illustrate: last night, step-daughter and I returned from an afternoon out with my mom. As she walked through the door, she was tweeting about taking off her makeup, putting on pajamas and binge watching Supernatural. By the time she finished typing, I’d already re-donned my fuzzy ‘jammy pants from earlier in the day, grabbed the Chromebook, and started a cup of coffee. By the time my coffee was done, she had on her own fuzzy pants. We could only smile at one another as we grabbed various bags of unhealthy food and seriously contemplated having frozen pizza for supper for the second night in a row. In the end, we couldn’t be bothered to wait for the oven to preheat and we ate whatever we could find that took even less effort than that. (Parenting goals!)
So, if you were sitting here right now drinking coffee with me, it would probably occur to you that I’m not depressed so much as I’m an obnoxious teenager in a 40-some-year-old squishy body. And I couldn’t really argue with you there. Not at all.
Mama is pretty sure she’s won the son-in-law lottery. She outright says so all the time, but last night, she called needing help with one of her poems-in-progress and asked me to list the qualities that make me describe my husband as the best person I know. I’m not very good at the lists (and let me assure you, this is not the first such request that I’ve received from her over the years), and so I did a lot of hem-ing and haw-ing and stammering around the edges of the subject with no idea in what direction I should go first.
Why is my new husband the best person I know? Basically, she was asking what I loved about him, and anyone who’s ever been asked that question knows that it’s not so easy to answer, particularly without sounding like you’re running for reelection as the mayor of Shmaltztown. Obviously, that’s never been me. I’m also not the girl who oohs and aahs over romantic dinners or flowers on special occasions: In other words, it takes a different kind of man–and a different kind of relationship–to get my attention in the first place, let alone keep it.
I have to admit that it helps that I’ve known the man since he wasn’t a man at all. When I met him, he was a too-tall 12-year-old with Tim Curry lips, an unfailing respect for his mother, and a kindness that is truly unheard of in a kid. Despite a first marriage that began before his teenage years ended, three kids in six years, a given up dream for a job in the medical field, a medical discharge from his second dream job in the Air Force, and disappointment of every sort at every turn, by the time I saw him again in 2013, he was still the person I remembered–how does anyone manage to stay so decent after all that shit? We smiled at one another constantly, and I felt totally at ease with him in a way that I never had with any other person to whom I was attracted. Almost from the start, I wondered how we’d managed to get and stay so far away from one another for almost all of our adult lives.
Our absence from one another’s lives seems particularly farfetched when you consider the following: His sister is my best friend to such a degree that I stopped calling her my friend and started calling her my sister years ago. When I moved back to Illinois from North Carolina at the end of 2014, I moved into his mom and sister’s house. All of this ready-made closeness to his family (even independent of my relationship to him) made us getting together a total no-brainer, especially for me; I had just come from a 14 year relationship wherein I was kept as far outside the family circle of the person I was with as it’s possible to be. In his/our family, I couldn’t possibly feel any more included and loved than I do. Admittedly, he got a little something from the deal as well: he had a ready-made family in need of a mother figure, and I was a mother who had only ever wanted a family to care for. He got someone to take care of him and to help him hold his life together in a real, consistent, and sustainable way, and I got someone who looks at me as though he can’t wait to keep looking at me until (and after) the wrinkles on my face will comfortably hold a ten day rain.
We are quiet together. We read many of the same books and enjoy most of the same music and television shows. We are accomplished car singers with widely varied repertoires. We both detest the president (and liars in general) and want more than anything to run off to a secluded cabin in the woods where we will have so few visitors that whoever finally discovers our bodies will likely only find the bones. We take pointless day trips in the car just so we can share space only with one another. (Sometimes, he takes me cruising through the really bad parts of St. Louis so he can show me how good our life together really is…ha!) He dyes my hair every month without fail, and there’s never so much a hint of griping about it. He amuses me. I mean really. Most of the days we spend together end with me lying in bed massaging the area around my cheekbones, knowing that I’ve once again over-exercised my facial muscles, and I’m going to have to think real hard before I smile the next day, assess whether or not it’s worth the pain.
Mostly, I just can’t believe my luck. How does a person who has made the mistakes I have end up with a man like this? He works hard. He loves consistently and well, without any games or pretense. He is generous and kind, smart and funny, and he’s secure enough to let me be all of the great (and not-so-great) things I am, too. He might be younger than me, but there is sometimes an emotional maturity about him that humbles me right down to the soles of my spoiled rotten feet.
In short, I have no idea how I got him (or really what the heck he sees in me), but I’m keeping him as long as I possibly can.
But I didn’t say nearly all of that to Mom because a) it would’ve made me cry, and b) her poem is for little kids and definitely not that long.
I was re-watching the first season of The L Word this afternoon, only half paying attention while I worked the 250th row of my 53rd afghan and drank my afternoon cup of hot green tea. At some point–somehow–I became a 43-year-old, heterosexual married woman with a couple of step-kids, but in the twenty-some years immediately prior to that, I was pretty serious about being a lesbian. And the truth is, I still consider myself part of that world. The feeling becomes all the more acute when I’m in the company of lesbians or when I watch this show: I still can’t help smiling when Shane comes on screen; I still innately understand and commiserate with Bette and Tina, and I still think Alice and I were meant to be.
This afternoon on the screen, Shane is talking about sexual fluidity, trying to convince Dana that things aren’t so cut and dried as she believes. There was a time in my own life when that particular idea would’ve been difficult for me to swallow as well, but it’s certainly several years in the rearview now. In my late 30s I had this therapist, see. And while she was all coupled up and happy (as was I at the time), she indicated that should I ever find myself with a few free hours, I really should check out this book, Sexual Fluidity. I’m not sure why she suggested it. Probably it had to do with my areas of research and interest–which often tended to run into the vicinity of gender studies–but it could be that my very enlightened and educated therapist also had hella-great gaydar, and I was throwing out mixed signals. In any case, I read the book. At least…I read the book in that way graduate students read books when they only want the gist and not the technobabble. I like to think I got the point, though admittedly I’m not so sure if it’s conclusions were much different from those reached by Alfred Kinsey back in 1948. Kinsey posited sexuality on a spectrum; Sexual Fluidity seemed to have the same idea, but also claimed that the spectrum wasn’t fixed and might slide in either or both directions over the course of a lifetime or an afternoon.
The thing is, I don’t think the fluidity part actually fits me at all. I don’t feel like I’ve suddenly skated over to the boy side any more than I used to feel that I had moved over to the girl side. I do not at any time think: “I like women” or “I like men.” Instead, it seems to me that I have always loved with specific people in mind, regardless of their biological sex. I love/am attracted to John or Jill, not I love/am attracted to a generic chunk of hims or hers simply because they’re blessed with the right genitalia.
At this point, my LGBT friends and family would likely insist that I take ownership of my true label or shut the hell up, and honestly, I would if it didn’t make me, my husband, my ex, my mother, and probably everyone else I know cringe. Is it just me, or do bisexuals get a freakin’ awful rap even among ourselves? It’s like…for all our liberal claiming that sexuality doesn’t matter, that rights to marriage, etc. ought to be the same for all couples, we really really REALLY don’t like the idea (or the conception, or the intimation) that sexuality is ever a choice, and bisexuality pretty much proves that notion. Gay and lesbian Christians like to take their argument to their straight brothers and sisters’ doorstep by appealing to commonly held values: “I was born this way–God doesn’t make mistakes.” But bisexuals and their partners are often manifest physical proof that this claim isn’t true, or that, at the very least, “born this way” has become a lot harder to pin down. Were bisexuals born preferring one sex, mandated to switch when they turned 20, and then destined to switch back again a few years later? Did God really preordain all of that? This is the kind of intellectual leap that our black or white society doesn’t like to make (despite the fact that they assume God performs much more complicated feats than this every minute of every day all over the world).
As for me, my problem isn’t God-related. I’m not sure what I think of God, but I know I don’t much care to have anyone else’s conception pushed at me as the only possible Truth. Whatever God-idea I eventually arrive at will be one that I know I can live with (and I think the world would be a better place if more people considered God on a personal–instead of a political or societal–level). Anyway, my problem isn’t God, it’s people. It’s straight people. It’s LGBT people. It’s my own fucking SELF, for the love of God. Why does it matter to you (or to me) that I’ve been with both men and women in my life? I’ve gone where I thought I was supposed to be and I’ve stayed as long as I could. Along the way–the whole way–I’ve been honest about who I was and what I wanted. My suspicion is that, in doing this, I’ve been quite a bit more decent than most of the other people in the world.
And yet, when I married my sweet husband last year (after knowing him and his entire family for 25 years and knowing without a doubt that it was freakin’ FATE), I felt like I was suddenly and unequivocally ousted from the group I’d been a very vocal member of for the entirety of that 25 years. The truth is, I don’t feel any different. I didn’t wake up the morning after my courthouse wedding and think “I’m not a lesbian anymore.” I still feel the struggle with every fiber of my being. I still take it all SO PERSONALLY…at least until I remember that it isn’t so personal anymore. Now that I’m married to a man, I’m in quite the little pickle: I still feel like a lesbian and I still consider them “my people.” And yet they would not be at all pleased to count me among their number, nor would they appreciate at all that I occasionally remain silent and don’t volunteer the information that I no longer belong. For as much as we all like to act like we’re on the same page and “it’s all good if it’s love,” I just can’t shake this feeling (which I freely acknowledge has no basis in actual facts): I’m on the outside now, whether or not I choose to own the B in LGBT.