My ex-husband and I first met Jim and Joe (not their real names) at least twenty-five years ago. Happily, they have continued to include me in their lives by inviting me to their parties and life celebrations.
Very few of the people I met through or with D have kept me on their social lists. That includes family. I have come to understand it isn’t that most of them are cold or uncaring; they simply don’t know how to be inclusive in situations that they fear (real or imagined) may get a little “sticky.” My fiery temper during our separation and divorce didn’t help.
But this post is not about me, it’s about the remarkable and always inclusive Jim and Joe.
Since gay marriage is still not legal in North Carolina, J and J went to New York a while back and tied the knot after almost thirty-five years together. Legal or not, they’ve been married all those years. They never needed a piece of paper for those of us who have loved them and recognized their commitment to each other. Yet I find myself feeling joyful on their behalf now that they have taken this big step which wasn’t available to them before.
I was not surprised when I received this most recent invitation from J and J. I had attended their “twenty-five-years-together anniversary.” But I felt a warm glow when I saw the announcement that they had wed. And I felt extraordinarily happy that I was considered one of many friends with whom they wanted to share their good news.
At three o’clock on a beautiful autumn day, surrounded by family and friends, J and J had a ceremony on the front steps of their lovely home. We friends gathered on the lawn in front and celebrated with them. There were chairs for those who can no longer stand. A very eloquent gentleman made comments and then J and J reconfirmed their vows of commitment, each in his own words. We cheered!
As I drove home, I noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon and the wind was tossing yellow leaves into a whirling dervish dance. As I drove through one leafy frenzy after another and another, I thought of the many frantic dances my friends Jim and Joe have had to perform as they were growing up feeling different. As they met with intolerance at every turn. As they quietly accepted that they had none of the rights that other committed couples shared. I wondered if they did the same dance over and over for each situation they encountered, or did they vary the steps sometimes.
I keep coming back to the last statement “the eloquent gentleman” made about J and J. He said, “Jim and Joe have taught us all how to live our lives.” As I shout “Amen” to that, I realize the answer to my pondering in the last paragraph. Sometimes these wonderful human beings danced a waltz. Some days they did the twist. There must have been days when the hokie pokie seemed appropriate.
Now that I think about it, I doubt their dances were ever frenzied. And the type of dance is irrelevant. Whatever the dance, they did it together and with purpose.