Just An Ordinary Couple
Really, I often forget that we’re a little different.
Going into our 18th year, we have compiled a mutual history marked with the conventional milestones: The kids’ high school proms and college graduations; their engagements, weddings and the birth of grandchildren. Together we’ve endured the passing of parents, siblings and friends, rebounded after job changes and layoffs, bought and decorated three houses, and planned numerous trips and family vacations.
And now, we’re settled in that comfortable space where many long term relationships reside.
For us, life is good.
We know each other’s thoughts so well we can finish the other’s sentences without skipping a beat. We agree on just about everything, so arguments are rare. The white-hot passion of our early days has matured into a level of intimacy that, I believe, is the very definition of love, physically and emotionally expressed.
Run-of-the-mill and ordinary – that’s how we see ourselves. Not so for many other people. I can’t really fault others, even those who know us well, for scratching their heads over us. From the outside at least, we are probably the most unlikely couple you have ever met.
What People See When They Look At Us
Because we are women, and because one of us is white and the other black, when we are together, we escape convenient categories. We don’t fit anybody’s image of a “couple,” because, for one thing:
I wear makeup, high heels, lace and frills. I’m addicted to jewelry, killer shoes and hand bags with feet. I’m Italian but am often mistaken for Irish, with my round face, fair complexion and green eyes. In a family of otherwise flat-chested females, I’m the one with enough boobs for all of us. I’m such a girly-girl it’s no wonder that people ask for my Lesbian ID card when I talk about my wife.
My partner (AKA “Tall, Dark and Lovely”) is African-American, a former collegiate basketball player with a toned, athletic build. She wouldn’t be caught dead in pink. She shops most often in the men’s section for her clothes. She’s very particular about jewelry, the little she wears of it. Total strangers come up to her to complement her skin, which is like dark chocolate velvet. Waiters, car valets and the staff at Home Depot sometimes address her as “sir.” This alternately annoys and amuses us.
For another thing:
Our physical descriptions aside, you’d think we’d be eons apart in many of the things that matter to successful relationships: Economic background and opportunity, education, values, religion. It’s true; although we ended up at the same place, we come from vastly different backgrounds:
- I’m the middle child of three in a two-parent middle-class family. She is the oldest of five, but was raised separately from her siblings by her grandmother. TDL has never met her father.
- We were both taught that if you wanted something, you needed to get a job to earn money to pay for it. My parents were “thrifty.” Her grandmother was down-and-out poor.
- College and marriage were expected of me. I was married the year I graduated college, and had four children when TDL and I met. Her grandmother just prayed for TDL to make it through high school without falling victim to drug addiction or violence. She hoped that TDL would earn a place in a male heart, along with her degree, after four years. When she graduated on a full sports scholarship from a prestigious private university, the degree eventually made up for the absence of marriage, in grandmother’s eyes.
- Religion was important to both of our families growing up. My parents were fervent Catholics. Her grandmother was equally devoted and active in her church. TDL’s religious upbringing is a sketchy mixture of traditional and evangelical Christian, with a side of Jewish and Catholic philosophy thrown in.
- We both believe in God and an afterlife. I think I miss the “community” offered at church more than she does, but she’s happy to come along with me while I look for an accepting place to be on Sundays.
- Some of my life experiences have made me bitter, and I have regrets. TDL has more reason than I do to resent the past, but amazingly, she doesn’t torture herself by looking back. She is very much a “live-in-the-moment” type, and has the capacity to find joy in just about anything.
Our similarities seem bigger and broader than our individual starting points. We both believe in honesty, loyalty and the importance of family. We believe in helping others, whether they are strangers or related to us. We expect to earn our keep at home, at work and in our community. Neither one of us likes to ask for help. We just turn our shoulders to the wheel and dig in, harder.
That’s the essence of who we are. How we came together is a story for other posts.
Suffice it to say that no matter what we look like from the outside, and despite where we came from, I believe that some Great Hand had designed for us to be together in this lifetime.
TDL has told me that before we met, she never imagined that one day she’d be able to have a family of her own, to have the life we have. In the darkest moments of my past, I couldn’t have envisioned this life, either. We are grateful.
For us, life is good.