A Drop Becomes a Ripple Becoming a Wave

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

I was commenting on a friend’s Facebook post today, trying to put across the message that we need a little more positivity in the world and how positivity catches hold, just like negativity, if we let it.

So, here’s the deal. (Yes, I’m on the soap box again.)  I don’t post negative stuff on Facebook, or this blog for that matter. It’s a conscious choice. I decided that what I put out into the world will try to be positive and beautiful and kind. Not to say I’m not aware of the myriad of things about this country, the world, the way things are politically and spiritually and environmentally, etc., etc., etc., and on, and on, and on, that could be changed. Or frankly, need to be changed. I know there are issues. I know there are things that are wrong. I know we all have varying ideas about what those things are. I’m aware. I just choose, being the person I am on the this planet, to only put out positive energy. At least, that’s what I strive to do.

Here’s why. There’s enough bullshit out there already. There’s enough opinion and doomsday predictions and nasty words and accusations and scare tactics and bullying behavior and finger-pointing and hurtfulness to fill pages and pages for years and years. Frankly, it doesn’t really solve anything, or do us any good. It’s divisive and has about as much impact as spitting in the wind.

I believe in what comes around goes around, do unto others, being kind to our fellow humans and the planet, what you put out you get back 10 fold, I believe in being the change I wish to see in the world. And the change I wish to see in the world is that we all become kinder, gentler, less judging, more helpful, less greedy, not as self-centered, nicer versions of ourselves. We can choose to look at all that’s wrong, pointing fingers and shouting doomsday predictions, or we can look at what’s right, and build on that. We can try for understanding and compassion instead of accusations and tearing people down. Ideas, even if they aren’t yours or mine, are all valid.   None of us have all the answers. Which brings me to the thought that a little less arrogance would also be in order. Thinking we have all the answers is the first step to not getting any worthwhile answers at all. And believing we know, without a doubt, what’s best for our neighbors, our towns, our country, or the world, is crazy thinking.  Just sayin’.  No one knows everything, and the moment we start to think we do, we’ve cut off our nose to spite our face. We can only try our best, try to evolve with our problems, and try to respect each other. We all, whoever we are, deserve at least some modicum of respect. As human beings with feelings if nothing else.

So, I know there’s a lot going on in the world.  I know some of it isn’t good.  I know some of it needs to be changed.  But, I also know that there’s beauty and light and love and kindness and compassion and gentleness and giving and loving and respecting and grace out there.  People are, generally, good.  Most of us want the same things in life.  Most of us want not only ourselves but our fellow humans to be well, to be happy, to be fulfilled and to have joy.  Most of us are good people doing the best we can to get by, to have a life, to make a better future for our children and grandchildren.  We are more alike than we aren’t.

Like I used to tell the kids I worked with, “use your powers (and there are many) for good, not evil”.  You have a choice.  I choose to try to emphasize the love and beauty and light and joy in the world.  Not to say my way is better than any other way, but it’s my way, and this is my blog.  This is the best way for me.  It helps to remind me, every day, that there are good people out there and good things happening.  It helps me remember that we are more the same than different and that there’s so much creativity and goodness in the world.  If I seek out the positive, I find it.

I think of it like this… a drop of light creates a ripple of kindness, which leads to waves of joy and compassion and understanding that flow out well beyond where that one drop started.  Just think what would happen if we all got together and tried compassion and understanding and joy for change.  Think of what could happen.  Think of the huge wonderful waves that shared energy would create.  Think of how beautiful that would be.

 

Thankful Everyday – The Twenty-Fifth

25.  I am thankful for poetry.  e.e. cummings, pablo neruda, w.h. auden, william carlos williams, sylvia plath, h.d., charles bukowski, poe, whitman, longfellow, yeats, thoreau, tennyson, shakespeare, frost, dickinson and on and on.  I’ve spent hours enjoying beautiful words written by amazing minds and hours trying to write my own words.  These words have enriched my life, helped me to better make sense of my world, and given me deeper understanding of life as I know it.

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Missing People Just Plain Sucks

Missing people just plain sucks.

I’m sad.  I just finished watching a video about the School of Piano Technology in Vancouver, Washington.  And no, pianos themselves don’t make me sad, just in case you were wondering.  What just made me sad was missing my dad.

My relationship with my dad was… complicated.  My parents divorced when I was a young pup.  Knee high to a grasshopper.  My dad, who didn’t want it, didn’t handle it well.  My mom, for her part, wishes she would’ve done the whole thing differently, but we’re human, and we handle things the way we do.  Better or worse.  Life is messy, and so was this.

After the divorce my brother and I lived with Mom full-time.  Dad had visitation and Mom, who still thought he was a great guy, wanted us to have him in our lives.  She talked kindly and fondly of him and often encouraged us to call him.  Dad, who was a person filled with light and joy by nature, couldn’t handle the separation and his best defense was to ignore that it happened, and consequently, to ignore my brother and I.  Simply put it was easier for him to pretend we didn’t exist than it was to actually be engaged with us on a part-time basis.  The whole situation was made more difficult by the fact that he remarried and after a few short years together they moved to Montana.  Being so far away just put further distance between us.  My dad had a great life there.  He and my step-mom had five children together and were happy.  It was good for them, for him.  But he was still my dad and though I loved him, and knew he loved me, he dropped the ball in the being a parent to my brother and I department.  He dropped it big time.

Missing people just plain sucks.

There were hardly any calls to us, and when we did talk to him it was because Mom had asked if we wanted to call him.  And when, finally, we were on the phone with him, after we’d made the call, he would cry, say he missed us so much, and ask how come we didn’t call more.  We were pre-teens, he was the grown up.  Who should have been responsible for keeping in touch?  Apparently, according to my dad, the pre-teens.  I think I only ever got one or two birthday cards from him.  He never wrote a letter.

Missing people just plain sucks.

When he first moved to Montana we didn’t see him for four years.  Not because Mom stopped us from going, but because Dad didn’t ask us to come.  I remember our first visit there, I was 12 when he moved and 16 when we went for the first time.  My brother and I went by train.  It was strange suddenly being with him, with his new family, and feeling outside of it all.  Feeling apart.  He tried to make us feel like part of the family, but he was a tad clumsy with those things.  I have memories from that visit all clouded by this feeling of us all being a bit uncomfortable.  The weird thing is that when we were with him we were his everything.  In person he was fantastic.  Showered us with attention, talked as if nothing was off, as if we hadn’t just spent four years not really communicating at all.  We were his light, when we were there with him.  I’m sure that then made it strange for my step-mom and for my younger siblings.  Suddenly he was all about us.  Wanting to introduce us around town, spend all his time with my brother and I.  He would say things to us like, take this to your mom, referring to our step-mom as our mom.  It didn’t feel right, to us or to her.  He wanted one big happy family when we were there.  Like I said, he was awkward with things like that.  Then, when we weren’t with him, when we were back in Oregon, it was as if all the lights shut off.  All communication once again stopped.  Like a switch.  A switch I wasn’t very good at understanding for a long long time.

Missing people just plain sucks.

This happened every time we went to Montana to visit, or my dad and all came to Oregon, which wasn’t a lot.  After I was a bit older I drove out for my little sister’s high school graduation and then for my younger brother’s high school graduation.  Same thing.  Switch on.  Switch off.  It’s something K saw first hand a few times after we got together and she never understood it.  She always said it was so strange that he didn’t communicate at all with me and then when I was with him he couldn’t get enough of me, showered me with attention and affection.  Switch on…. switch off.  It was actually kind of nice to get her opinion about it.  All those years feeling that way, to then have her confirm how odd it was, was comforting.  Made me feel a little less off kilter where the Dad situation was concerned.

My brother and I handled this whole switch scenario very differently.  When we were younger my brother had Dad on a pedestal, way up high, something porcelain and delicate and beautiful and not to be disparaged or messed with.  Dad was the end all and be all to him.  For me that wasn’t the case.  I was angry.  I remember my brother and I having big yelling matches about Dad.  He defending him as I screamed about what an ass he was for not caring, for not talking, for not being there, for basically abandoning us.  I wrote Dad letters I didn’t send.  Made mixed tapes for Dad that, unfortunately, I think I did send.  Embarrassing, and yet not embarrassing.  I was a teenager who desperately wanted her father to love her.  To acknowledge me when he wasn’t right there looking at me.  To be my father, my dad, whether or not he was standing in the room with me.  Because honestly, I adored him too.  I wanted desperately to have his attention.  After we were adults, my brother and I did a swap in this regard.  Me, having come to grips with who Dad was as a person and who he would always be, and my brother having an experience with Dad in regards to my brother’s wife at the time that would make him so angry he didn’t see or speak to Dad for six years after.  Dad didn’t really do anything, but he didn’t stand up for my brother or his wife and my brother couldn’t make excuses for him anymore.  I think all the anger he hadn’t allowed himself to feel over the years came out because of this incident.  And I think the amount we love and adore someone informs the amount of anger we can feel for that same person.  He was bitter and enraged.  For a long time.  Just as I had been bitter and enraged for a long time.

Missing people just plain sucks.

Later, after we got older and Dad and his second family moved back to Oregon, it was really too late.  They lived not far from Mom, probably only 20 minutes or so, but I never thought of visiting him.  It wasn’t a vindictive thing, it was just that it didn’t occur to me.  He had made himself so absent in my life that he was absent in my thoughts.  By then I would see him every couple of years and that was about all.  I didn’t even think of seeing him.  Didn’t think of making that effort.  Strange.  It’s amazing how someone can be gone from your life for so long that they are no longer a part of the every day culture of it.  You think of them sometimes, and those thoughts and feelings are usually warm and tender and genuine, but during the course of a normal day they don’t even enter your mind.   It’s sad, but that’s what happened with Dad.

Missing people just plain sucks.

Several years ago now I got a call from one of my younger sisters.  She told me Dad had had back pain and had gone into the hospital.  Everyone always teased him about how he whined about his pain or an injury, or whatever.  This time he wasn’t whining.  He went into the hospital and 11 days later, having gotten out and been sent home on hospice, he died in that house 20 minutes from my mom’s place.  I was there.  During those last few days I spent time with him at the hospital, listening to him writhe in pain as the cancer that was attached to his spine grew so quickly it broke his back.  I was there telling stories from my childhood with him and our visits together over the years.  I asked him questions, he asked me questions.  I was there at their house, one that had never been mine, watching the stream of well wishers from their church who brought food and spoke so fondly of him.  I was there to talk to him about music, which was his life’s blood, and laugh with him about some silly thing or another.  I was there standing by his bedside with my brother when our dad apologized to us for not being the father he should have been.  I was there to forgive him and to tell him I loved him.  I was there when his breathing slowed and then stopped for the last time.

Missing people just plain sucks.

I’ve been thinking about Dad a lot after watching the piano hospital video, which made me cry and cry.  I was thinking he was such a joy-filled, emotional man, and here I am, a joy-filled and emotional woman.  I’m blessed to have been his daughter.  He didn’t always do it well, being my dad I mean, but he did do some things right.  Most especially when I was with him.  In person he was awesome.  He was passionate and joyful and silly and fun and so warm.  He was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known.  Honestly himself regardless of the situation.  He loved to laugh, and that laugh was so infectious anyone hearing it had to laugh right along with him.  He had music in his blood.  So talented and effortless, able to play pretty much any instrument, though he stuck with the pedal steel guitar because it was the hardest thing to play and he loved that about it.  I loved to listen to him play.  Loved it.  I loved watching his face when he was playing and singing.  I swear light shot out of him in all directions when he was sitting at that guitar.  Getting to see he and his band play together, live, was always awesome.  I loved his mis-matched outfits and his love of sweets and his gray hair and how when he walked places he moved fast.  He never moseyed.  He was blind, but that guy could move.  I remember watching him do single axle jumps while Ice skating and can picture him floating the river with us.  I can see him playing frisbee at my step-grandparent’s house, leaping in the air, and I remember fishing his glasses out of the river after he, my brother, and I went into the water when the raft ripped down the middle.  I love how he loved his coffee, with loads of sugar and cream, and how he was always the first to lend a hand when someone needed it.  I loved how he smiled and I loved his laugh.  I remember being a tiny girl visiting him one night at the gas station he worked at at that time, and how he walked over and bought us hot chocolates at this diner next door, and then lifted me up so I could clean someone’s windshield.  He made things an adventure.  I remember feeling like I was having an adventure almost every time I was with him.  Not many people do that, give that feeling.  He did.  It was a gift.

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Missing people just plain sucks.

Now, thinking about him, the all of him, I’m proud to be his daughter.  I had, long before he died, come to grips with who he was.  The guy who wasn’t the greatest of dads, yet was.  I’d wrapped my head around the fact that he was who he was, and that he would never change.  He wasn’t emotionally mature where my brother and I were concerned, but that was what it was, and it was OK.  I came to a place of accepting him for him and accepting and forgiving myself for putting him in the place I ended up putting him in my life, which was sort of on the side, just out of reach.  And I learned a great lesson from him.  I learned to be there for the people I love.  I learned that the hard way from him, but I learned it.  I think he’d be proud he taught me that lesson, even though I know he wasn’t proud of the way he taught me.  I’m also proud that he passed on his dorky sense of humor, his ability to be light and silly, and his love of all things coffee.  I’m grateful for those gifts, and for the gift of having had him in my life, even the little amount I did.  I’m grateful he gave me my younger siblings; my brother from our mother, and the younger five he had with my step-mom.  They are fantastic, and even though we don’t spend loads of time together, not nearly as much as I’d like, when we do it’s wonderful.   They are, simply, great people.   Each with a great smile.  I have a great smile too.  My smile came from both of my parents.  They both, Mom and Dad, have and had great ones.  Smiles from the inside.  Smiles that light the eyes.  It’s the thing most people notice about me, and it comes from them.

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Missing people just plain sucks.

It just does.

I miss Dad, and I love him, and sometimes, when the light is just right or my mood is, I see him in me.  Smiling.

I’m Gay

Yep.  It’s true.

I have never written a serious blog post about being gay.  I mean, it’s part of who I am, but it isn’t all there is to me and I am not defined or labeled by it.  To me it’s sort of like talking about what color eyes I have.   My eyes are there, but I don’t spend hardly any time thinking about them, let alone talking about them.  But…  I am gay.  It’s not all that I am, but I am, and I have something to say about it now.  I think it’s time.

For years I had no idea I was gay.  I dated guys in high school and into my first year of college.  Had a serious boyfriend during most of that time.  I didn’t know anyone who was gay, never saw anyone on TV or in the movies who was gay besides the occasional annoying totally stereotyped male, and even those guys were few and far between.  In my home when those characters showed up on TV derogatory comments were made by my step dad.  Though he didn’t have that sole role.  When kids at school happened to talk about someone who was gay, or someone they thought was gay, that person was called queer.  Most of the time the person being called queer wasn’t even gay.  The term was just used to put someone down.  I heard it a lot in the halls, never in reference to me, but I heard it a lot.  I never liked it, or it’s use, just as I’ve never liked any derogatory term said to anyone in pretty much any context.  Even still, when I heard it I didn’t think it might pertain to me.  Had no clue.  When you don’t even really know of a thing how can you know you are that.  It wasn’t even in my realm of possibility.  Then… suddenly and unexpectedly I met someone in college.  And even still, even then, I didn’t know.  I just thought I liked that particular person.  You know, I’m straight, it’s just that I happen to unexpectedly fall in love with a woman.  I even lied to my Mom when she asked me about it when I was 18.  I lied because I hadn’t even really asked myself that question.  Had no clue about myself.  That lie was the first in a long line of lies.  Lies to myself.  Lies to family and friends and pretty much everyone I loved.  I didn’t really know, or look at that part of my life seriously until I was into my 30’s. Am I or am I not.  I finally realized I was.  Had always been.  That realization made a lot of things from my life make sense, fall into place.  A sort of ah ha.  And yet, still I lied, at least for a time I did.  But let’s go back a bit… back to the younger confused me.  Those lies took their toll.

Let me tell you why a gay person lies.  We lie because we are sure no one will love us if we tell the truth.  We don’t love ourselves very much some of the time during the early years of knowing we are gay because we, frankly, don’t want to be, so the thought process goes that certainly no one else will love us either.  Especially when society, and my time was the 80’s and 90’s, was still not welcoming, open, accepting.  My step dad didn’t have the monopoly on bigotry and the atmosphere during the 80’s (when the AIDS epidemic hit) and 90’s was not kind to gay people.  So not only was I afraid people in my life wouldn’t love me, that they would reject me just for being me, but that I could also be hurt, physically.  Not by family or friends or people I knew, but by the mysterious and threatening other people.  Those people out there somewhere who, if they found out, would hurt me.  There was always a fear.  Fear of so many things.  And a total wish that I wasn’t gay.  Believe me, when people say it’s a choice, I get angry.  If the people who say that would think for a second, they should realize something important, and that is why would anyone choose to be gay.  It’s harder.  It’s sometimes unsafe.  And frankly, having to live your life looking over your shoulder some of the time, not being able to hold hands, or look too gay in public in some places, is hard.  It can wear a person down.  Having to actually think about things like those, things like safety or being found out, things like I hope no one in this particular setting realizes I’m a big ol’ gay.  (That just made me laugh, but seriously… we think about it.  We have to.)  And when I say we all go through periods where we think to ourselves we don’t want to be gay, usually early in our lives or the process of knowing we are gay, it’s that we don’t want to be different.  When you’re young, and even not so young, the last thing you want to be is different than your peers, your family, your community, your culture.  Young people, and old alike I guess, all want to fit in.  Want a place.  Knowing your gay, when faced with so much obvious hate in the media, in communities, in our own towns and neighborhoods is a thing no one wants to face.  When I realized I was gay a bit of sadness happened for me.  I didn’t want to be different.  I wanted to be like everyone else.   And I knew life would be a tad more difficult… sometimes a lot more difficult.  So at first most of us lie.  Mostly to ourselves I think, out of a weird self protection and denial, then because we are panicked that if the people we love know they will stop loving us, and we lie in certain situations, still, because if we are openly gay in some places we could die.  No joke.  That’s part of the out and out vitriol that’s out there for gay people in some places.  It’s part of the culture that has jailed and beaten and ridiculed and cast out gay people for decades.  And before someone says you can feel you are gay, but you could choose not to be by just living a “normal” straight life, here’s what that would be like just a bit.  Say you are single and someone introduces you to a person they feel is right for you.  You have no connection with them at all.  You feel they are nice enough, and that maybe you could even be friends, but you have no interest in dating them.  Or you might even detest them.  Then say that you are told that’s the person you have to be with.  You have no feelings of love for them at all, but you have to be with them in order to be accepted by your family, your friends, your community.  Take a second to imagine what it would feel like to be living that lie.  To be living a completely inauthentic life.  Trapped.  Forced into something you feel isn’t right with every part of your being.  Now magnify that feeling of being forced to be with someone you don’t care for by about 1000 times.  That doesn’t even come close to it.  Being forced to be anything other than we are is soul crushing.

When I finally decided to be free, to embrace who I was, I decided to tell people in my life.  I did not want to hide.  I wanted what everyone wants, a partner in life, to be a family with someone.  I wanted that and I didn’t want to lie to anyone anymore, I couldn’t.  They would either love me, because seriously, I was the same person, or they wouldn’t, but I had to be in my truth, as the saying goes.  There were some obstacles to my telling people when I originally wanted to, circumstances beyond my control, but I eventually just had to tell.  Had to be honest and open.  Plus, by the time I told everyone I had already met someone.  I didn’t want to have another secret relationship, changing pronouns, talking vaguely about how I went out with a friend, etc., etc., etc.  Hiding.  I didn’t want to hide.  So I started the process of telling people, of coming out.

First I told Mom, who cried not because I was gay, but because I hadn’t felt like I could tell her earlier in life.  She hugged me, asked if the person I was with was Karen (they had already met when I’d brought my “friend” to an art show we attended together), and then said she’d liked her a lot.  I then had dinner with Kev, my brother, at a Thai place.  I told him and he said, uh… yes, of course you are and I love you.  My being gay didn’t change anything for them, but my telling them changed everything for me.  And all the people I told in the next month or so changed everything as well.  I was suddenly free and gaining momentum.  It was like the sun was shining on me for the first time in my life.  I felt truly connected, grounded, real.  I felt honest and true.  I continued by telling everyone at my job (all of whom were my friends as well), and the domino effect happened.  Within a couple of months everyone in my life knew.  My Mom, right after I told her, insisted on calling many of the relatives and telling them herself.  She asked me beforehand of course, but she was adamant that she make some of the calls.  I loved this because she wanted to be the one to call so she could let them know that she was OK with it and that they should be too.  She ran interference.  Mom rocks, just sayin’.   My grandparents, my Mom’s parents, were awesome.  My grandma’s quote as relayed by my Mom, “It’s about time”.  I love that.  After the tidal wave of talks and chats and dinners a weird thing happened… everyone, with only one exception, accepted me.  They all loved me, and they didn’t care.  And even if some were a tad weirded out in the beginning, they quickly came to the realization that I was the same person, Tam.  Just because I was also now gay Tam didn’t mean I had somehow fundamentally changed who I was.  Not every gay person is lucky like I have been.  Some tell their truth and find rejection and hostility from their families.  My heart aches for them.  It’s the very thing each gay person fears when they come out and for some it’s a startling reality.

I think it’s easy to say that something you don’t understand is wrong.  I think it’s easy for people who don’t know anyone who is gay, or at least they don’t think they do, to judge, be angry, or even be frightened.  Especially when they might be taught that fear by their parents or their communities or their places of faith.  I think we hardly ever see the boogeyman, and that’s what makes him scary.  In my experience people change when they have more knowledge.  They change when they have a better understanding.  They change when they are around the things they think they hate and then find they maybe don’t hate them as much as they thought they did and more than that, maybe they don’t hate them at all.  We do better when we know better.  I believe this.  Karen I usually find that when people meet us, as a couple, and maybe at first are cautious or unsettled by the fact that we are gay, they soon come around.  We’re pretty likable.  On a good day we can even be a tad charming.  We make a good team.  Plus we are genuine and nice and compassionate and open.  When people are around us we may start out as gay Tam and Karen, but we always end up just being Tam and Karen.  Not a gay couple, just a couple.  And when that shift happens for people gay becomes less scary, less evil, and less threatening.  It becomes not quite such a big deal as it once might have been.

Here’s the deal… I’m living my life.  Just like everyone else.  We go to the grocery store, have barbecues with our friends and family, go to our grandsons little gym graduations, take him swimming at the Y, work during the day and watch the same televisions shows as a lot of other people at night.  We take our dogs for walks, are preparing for retirement as best we can, we go to the movies, support our local university teams at games, plan dinners, drink coffee, and make contributions to charities.  We fill the bird feeders at our house, water our neighbors plants when they go out of town, take out the garbage every Sunday night, and when we each got sick we took care of each other.  We are a family, together.  And our being a family is no threat to anyone else.  We are living our lives.  We are nice people, treat people well, and we love to laugh.

We also pay taxes, more than other couples in fact because we can’t file as married.  We pay into social security but can’t get the same benefit of getting each other’s social security in the future if we wanted to.  We pay property taxes and state tax and gas tax and on and on.  We pay everything we’re supposed to, and trust me our tax bill is big every year, and yet we are not afforded the same rights and privileges for the money we pay.  Not exactly fair.  But it’s our life, and it goes on.  It went on even when we each got really sick, separately, and had to provide all kinds of paperwork, faxed by our attorney, to the hospital so the hospital would have it on file in the event we had to make decisions for each other.  Legally married couples don’t have to do that.  They say they’re married, that’s good enough.  They don’t have to stop in the middle of all the intensity of just being with their partner in the hospital to deal with making sure they have all the proper paperwork that proves they can be there.  Trust me, in a time of crisis the last thing you want to have to do is call the attorney to get paperwork so you can talk to your spouse’s doctor and not be asked to leave the room.  I stayed with Karen for a week when she had terrible pneumonia.  She was in critical condition.  I slept and ate at the hospital and I didn’t leave her side.  I helped her in and out of bed, talked to her nurses, discussed her situation with her doctor, cared for her.   She stayed with me for that first month I was in the hospital, leaving me for only one night during that entire time, and every week I had to go back after, without a thought that she would do anything else.  She actually worked from the hospital while at the same time caring for me, talking to my doctors and nurses, and trying to sleep every night on a small air mattress on a tiny bed in my room.  The hospital staff, on each of those separate floors, knew us by name, treated us well, and were very kind.  But we had to get our paperwork in order first, not so they would be nice, luckily I think all of those people would’ve been nice to us without the paperwork, but it was what the hospital wanted for same sex couples.  And luckily we already had the paperwork done.  I can’t imagine not already having it and having to get it done during those times.  What a nightmare.  We were, like any couple who loves each other, frightened and a bit lost each of those times.  Having to get all that extra paperwork didn’t help.

It’s strange to me how, just because of who I love, I can be seen as wrong or bad or somehow really different.  Our lives are so normal and regular, and believe me, that’s what we want, and what most gay people want, to have a regular life.  In fact our lives are so regular that in our day to day it doesn’t much occur to us that we are gay.  You know, we don’t go around saying to ourselves we’re gay.  In fact Karen and I joke with each other once in awhile… we’re gay?, really?  We are of course, but the point is that we don’t define ourselves like that.  We see ourselves as any other family.  Our families and friends see us just like all the other families that make up our larger group.  I’m Karen’s sister’s and brother’s sister-in-law, her parents daughter-in-law, she is my Mom’s daughter-in-law and my siblings sister-in-law, not the gay sister-in-law.  Everyone we meet and get to know eventually sees us as just another couple they know, not a gay couple, a couple.  So it’s strange and awkward for me to think there are people out there who don’t like me for just loving who I love.  People who don’t want me to be able to marry.  Honestly, why do they care?

Here’s the thing about marriage…. which I guess was my point in talking about all of this to begin with.  If an individual is a religious person, I get that maybe according to their interpretation of the bible they may feel marriage isn’t OK for gay people.  Church rules, personal interpretations of the bible, or whatever it may be.  But if that’s the case then simply don’t let gay people get married in their churches.  What’s wrong with letting other churches decide differently?  What’s wrong with letting other pastors decide that marrying gay people in their churches is OK?  Also, if someone feels like by letting gay people marry the world would go to hell, well frankly, that isn’t your call.  If they would read the bible there’s an important tenet that says judge not lest ye be judged.  Meaning do not judge others, that’s for God, not them.  If they really feel like I’m going to hell because I’m gay, which I don’t believe by the way, then I don’t think that’s supposed to be their call either.  I think God is supposed to decide, be the ultimate decision maker.  I believe it’s also a part of the rules that you should not act as if you know God’s heart and mind.   That would be presumptuous and vain, right?   It’s a sin to think you can speak for God, make decisions that are supposed to be God’s decisions.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.  Love they neighbor and all.  Right?  How can love be wrong?  And what does my loving someone have to do with anyone else?  So why should it matter if I can marry the person I love?  Who does it hurt?  Why does that matter to anyone but me?  Me and my family that is.  I think my Mom would love to attend my wedding.  She would love to walk me down the aisle.  And if she did, why would that matter to anyone else?  What does it hurt?  I, for the life of me, don’t get it.  And before someone says wait just one second, if we allow gay marriage then it will spread throughout the land, everyone will start doing it.  C’mon, that’s ridiculous.  Straight daughters or sons are not suddenly going to marry someone of the same sex just because they can.  It’s absurd to think so.  Maybe a gay daughter or son will, but legalizing marriage for gay people will not spur on a rash of non-gay people marrying same sex persons.  That thought just makes me laugh.

I don’t know why social politics have become such a part of the national landscape in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Separation of church and state anyone?  Not legislating things that should be personal.  We’re supposed to be a world leader, forward thinking, on the right side of what is just and civil and, well… right.  What happened to that?  It would be so refreshing to look at the candidates in any  race and not have to wade through who is for or against me.  Because, believe me, that’s what I’m doing right now.  I’m looking at the candidates and saying to myself, they are either for me or against me.  I see people I know supporting the candidate who is totally against letting me get married and I think to myself why?  It makes me sad.  I’m sorry, but it does.  I know there are differences in belief about economics and education and how this country should be run, I get that and respect differing opinions, but to me this is personal.  Very.  Because trust me, on this side of things it looks exactly like the same old things… anger, hate, and fear.  It looks like exclusion.  It feels like discrimination.  It feels like I’m being treated as “them”.  You know “them”.  They have worn different faces throughout history, but they have been very much the same.  Regular people that for some reason have been considered less than, not equal, not worthy of laws to protect them, of laws that include them.  So yes, for me it’s personal.  I can’t legally marry the woman I love, which hurts no one by the way, because someone somewhere thinks I’m not worthy of that.  It disgusts me, as all discrimination has and does disgust me.  Because you know what, I am the same as everyone else, and no one should have the right to dictate who I love and who I can marry.  My mind boggles at the sheer amount of money spent on stopping me from being able to marry.  It’s unbelievable really.  All the money that could be spent on other things… education, the environment, revamping some of our systems that are actually broken.  I’m not broken, don’t try to fix me, or put the fix on me.  Stop trying to legislate my life.  I want to ask the people who keep putting forward these bills who they think they are?  How arrogant to think you know what’s best for everyone else.  How completely egotistic and pompous.  Why not spend those millions and millions of dollars on something really important huh?  We aren’t going away.  You can’t wish it or legislate it or control it.  As the saying goes, you can’t hold back the tide.  Though some are still trying to.  Let’s get out of the business of social politics as talking points and parts of agendas and let’s get back to working on the real problems.  I, in my little life, am not one of them.

Ideally I want to live in a world of acceptance and love.  I want for all the hate and fear and hard feelings to fall away, on both sides.  I want to not have to worry about holding Karen’s hand when we walk down the street in some places.  I want for us to pay the same taxes as everyone else.  I want to not be the subject of so much discussion.  I want to legally marry the woman I love, family and friends present, and I want for my wedding to be a regular everyday thing.  Not a gay wedding, just a wedding.  Because in the end, I am gay, but really I’m just the same old Tam.

Thought

Less is sometimes more.

Back to Busy-ness

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Photo by TJ Parker

I am amused and feeling a sense of happy contentment. It’s Friday night, and we have no plans. I think to myself… what a luxury. We seem to be busy all the time. And I want to know, when did that happen? When did busy become the way of life? I’m scratching my head here.

Everyone is rushing. Have to get to the next meeting, the next phone call, the next dinner, the next movie, the next chore around the house. We have calendars on desks, in phones, on computers, in hand held devices. And most of those, well the electronic ones anyway, have alarms. Not only do we constantly have to write everything down, we have to audibly remind ourselves that we wrote it down.

I know, sitting here right now, there are things I should, or could, or am supposed to be doing. I can walk around my house and see all of the things left undone. If I think on it hard enough I also conjure up all the stuff not done outside, but it’s raining, so I have an excuse. Sadly, not only do the tasks around here plague me, but the piles of paperwork and files on my desk start to creep into my consciousness. They do, if I let them. I must fight it!

I want to be a kid again. Or, better yet, be me, now, but with the magic secret super power I had as a kid… that strange and mysterious ability to forget absolutely everything, except what I was doing at the moment. To ignore anything, including the sounds of mom calling from the house, even when she used all three of my names, and that meant business. But, I didn’t hear it, at least not right away. And when I did, finally, she’d probably used the dreaded three name technique to gain attention one, two, or even three times. I was in my own world, master of my own fate. In charge, completely, of my destiny. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I did nothing, except what I was doing, right then, at the moment.

At the moment, that’s the key.

Now as an adult, I am distracted. I’m watching a movie, or reading a book, or having a conversation… and suddenly, without intent or warning, the voice starts… my evil little inner twin, the task master. It begins to knock on my consciousness, slowly at first, little pictures or a word floating into “view” inside my head. It lets me know, I am not alone. It is always, except when I’m sleeping, with me. Even in sleep I think it’s there, it’s just probably sleeping too. But when I’m awake, it’s awake. It says things like… trash… or maybe… phone call. It doesn’t have to speak loudly, or even report its message fully. It just has to whisper, like wind slightly rustling the leaves. It pushes me, gently. Starting the swirl of thoughts in my brain…. Can you believe what that kid said today? Oops, I forgot to make that call. Where was that file? The look on that parents face was so sad. I need to remember that number when I go up to court. The car is so dirty. What’s for lunch? The lawn should’ve been mowed before it started raining. That shop door needs a new gasket… And so it goes… the list. Before I know it, three scenes of a movie have gone by and I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? Damn, I have to rewind.

Our lives, as adults, are busy. There are appointments and weddings, shopping to do, calls to make, bills to pay, papers to finish, and lawns to mow. There are friends and family to spend time with, work to be done. It is a never ending constant parade of to dos, should dos, must dos. From the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, which sometimes does not come easily thanks to all the thinking, we are bombarded with it. And I, for one, think it’s time we left all the busy-ness behind and got back to the business of being kidlike again. The business of living now, seizing, as they say, the day. Letting everything else melt away… until finally, surprised because it snuck up on us, we get that elusive feeling of peace. Finally, if not briefly, satisfied with our lives, our homes, and ultimately, ourselves… inner voices quieted, a pervasive feeling of giddy awe ensuing, we do face the day, freer than we were. Amused, contented, and still. Think of it, a world of happy contented people. Looking at and living in the moment. Our world would quiet, and we… well… we might, finally, get to see an entire movie… without thinking about a thousand other things, and then having to rewind.