I have a dream of someday marrying the love of all my lives — in Texas.
From Houston, I’ve also lived in Galveston several times and something in me longs to go home and marry my wife in the sculpture garden or next to the fountain I loved as a child in the deliciously sub-tropical city where I grew up, then head for the beach, palm trees and warm, breezy nights for a honeymoon (something we never really had). Who cares if we’re already married? Who cares if we’re gay?
Of course, the hot, humid homeland I’m so loyal to isn’t loyal to me.
While most couples dream of going to some exotic location such as Costa Rica or Portugal to renew their vows (oh sure, we’d love that too), we actually want to spend our money in the humble setting of my childhood for sentimental reasons. But, of course, they won’t grant the likes of us a license.
Back when civil unions were all the rage because they were the only option for two people who happened to check the same gender box on forms, there was a rash of couples traveling from state to state for serial “unions” (no, it doesn’t have the same ring as “weddings”). I always loved (but never acted upon) this ultra-romantic notion, yet realize there’s something primal and protective in it as well. If one state recalls the law, you’re safe in another.
After years of what was often daily advocacy (calling representatives, writing letters, signing petitions, publishing essays), when it finally became possible to marry my civil union partner (at that time) in Massachusetts, I stood there cheering with hundreds of community members for all the deliriously happy couples leaving the Northampton Court House waving marriage certificates and blowing kisses, yet knew that the thing I’d fought for was most likely not in our future.
Ironically, although we hadn’t been allowed to legally marry, we were allowed to legally divorce.
Years later, I’m happily-ever-after married while waiting for the Federal government to acknowledge that my wife is my wife and that with my daughter, well, we are family. Get up everybody and sing. I won’t bore you with tales of our three-class family when it comes to health insurance and other benefits Uncle Sam doesn’t let us share, our more expensive and complex challenges when it comes to filing federal and state tax forms, our concerns and fears about traveling home, and, as you know, the list goes on.
I realize each day that I’m probably living the happiest days of my life. Even in the coldest predawn hours when I’m deeply sleep deprived and know I only have three more minutes before I have to get out of bed, I wake next to my love, my best friend, who strategically places a mug of coffee next to me so that my brain stumbles into consciousness and this is why I’m capable of remembering who I am as I fumble into clothes, make my daughter’s lunch and get her out the door for the school bus at sunrise. But first, I hold my wife tight, drinking in her aliveness, grateful that this kind and smart, strong and gorgeous, funny and wise woman is my wife.
And every time I ask her to marry me in Texas, she says yes.
Photo of Vivian Felten and Chivas Sandage courtesy of Traci Astyk.
Feature photo courtesy of David Herrara at Flicker.
An earlier version of this post appeared at csandage.com.
Chivas Sandage’s first book of poems, Hidden Drive (Antrim House, 2012), places Ada with Eve in Eden and explores same-sex marriage and divorce. Her essays and poems on gay marriage have appeared in Ms. Magazine,The Naugatuck River Review, Upstreet, Same-Sex Marriage: The Moral and Legal Debate (Prometheus Books, ‘04) and are forthcoming in Knockout Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Artful Dodge, Drunken Boat, Evergreen Review, Hampshire Life Magazine, The Hartford Courant, Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience (Univ. of Iowa Press, 2006) and Morning Song: Poems for New Parents (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). Sandage holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Bennington College. She lives in Connecticut with her wife and daughter and blogs at csandage.com.
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