Monday, August 15, 2005

Two women, four rings

As I finished this, I checked my voice mail, and my wife left one where she tried to imitate Larry the Cable Guy's trademark "Git 'er done." Imagine that line in your head, okay? Now imagine it said by a Russian woman, one who doesn't appreciate most of ol' Larry's humor. Now imagine a secretary in a turquoise floral skirt and a bun with frizzy tendrils sneaking out of it, biting her mouth closed to keep from laughing out loud and dying for 5:30 to roll around...

She just really made me feel even better about what I'm about to post, you know?

At the Sweet Potato Queens' Messageboard of Love, a woman asked whether our wedding rings were "the One" we always wanted. Some women posted pictures of their fantasy engagement rings or the rings they currently wear, others described them. All were straight. I wondered whether I would drastically alter the tone if I, a woman with a woman, described mine. With a deep breath, I decided to "live equality" and post about mine. Let others act as if my rings are inferior because a man didn't give them to me; I ain't gonna. Besides, it's a question e-quaintances ask a lot.

I posted the following during a commercial break on the 4400, before it got so intense I had to focus. (That's one reason I love it--it makes me focus, unlike so many other shows.)

...L'Ailee and I decided that the only sensible thing for two women to do would be both of us having engagement rings, or neither of us having it. We both like sparklies. We both have them.

Our diamonds are "upgradeable." They are flanked by both our birthstones, her ruby and my aquamarine. Our wedding rings can be stacked together and interlocked if you do it right; we kept playing with them for the first three months! All were made in platinum by a friend of mine who is a jewelry designer.

It feels amazing to know that we are helping to create new traditions that a new generation of women in love will follow, and amazing that two of the most physically unlike each other short white women ever slapped together by the hands of the Fates could find something that matches. It's not what I envisioned as a little girl, but it's *my* One. And I'm smiling at it now as I look down at my typing hands.

I still wonder where that last paragraph came from. But I felt a need to acknowledge reality. We are creating a new set of traditions. There will be a young girl in L'Ailee's gymnastics classes who falls in love with another girl one day, and remembers that beautiful bald lady who taught her to master the parallel bars, and the lady in bright dresses and glasses who picked her up on Friday, and the rings on both their hands. My little boy who I tutor will remember the day we showed him how our rings are as cool as his puzzle ring, and tell a young woman contemplating marriage to another woman about them years from now. Twenty years from now, the question "Who wears the ring?" won't come up so often...because couples like us will have answered it through our example. We are, in a very small way, pioneers. It is a delightful and inspiring and terrifying thought.

People will be looking at this blog and learning how two women act married, just as we're learning it ourselves. They will be looking at us ITRW. They will see how we divide our chores, and another pair of women will divide them on a "what is important to whom" basis. We learned it from older women who lived together for eons and "may as well have been married." We *are* married, no "may as well" about it. And that, we're quickly learning, is *different*. We legally *belong* to each other. That is an amazing thought, too. We have to take care of ourselves because we belong to each other, and someone else is counting on us, and we are obligated to that someone else. I know that you can have that without calling yourself married or being married. But even though some people would like to yank that out from under us like a rug, we *are*.

When we were seniors in high school, I got a 790 on my SAT verbal and a 510 on my SAT math test. (I know the SAT was retooled this year.) L'Ailee's score was the exact opposite of mine--510 verbal, 790 math. We considered that proof that we belonged together--that together, we make one almost perfect brain--and bought a mizpah, one of those broken coins that best friends wear on two chains, at a jewelry store. Our mizpah was cheap, and we looked longingly at the other sparklies. We spoke our longings for rubies and diamonds and aquamarines. We promised each other these things "one day." We saw the engagement rings, and I whispered, "What if that case in Hawaii works out?" Because that was being tried at the time, in early 1993.

"Then after college, we will buy one of those and go to Hawaii," she whispered back.

How amazing, the way things did and didn't work out according to that plan. How amazing it is that the important things *did* work out. And how amazing that we were among the first generation of same-sex loving Americans (well, she's an American *now*) to actually have that as a possibility. I wonder how it is for the kids coming up. They still have to be sent to ex-gay camps sometimes, or get thrown out sometimes, but many of them are just their parents' sons and daughters. They can really expect this. They have at least three states where they can go, or they can go abroad. They can fall in love with a Spanish exchange student of their own gender, and go back with them. They can go live with our neighbors to the North. And more options will open up, faster than the people who oppose them can slam the doors shut.

I think that this is what our opponents are afraid of, that these kids will see adult couples like us and see possibility. I could develop this thought further, but it's afternoon and I'm thinking "out loud" and the thought seems like enough for the moment. I don't want to waste too much brain space on them anyhow today.

I think that we will combine the best parts of "queerness" and tradition. Some of the women at the MBOL talked about needing rings that were practical for their jobs. My wife needs that too, as she frequently gets into and out of boxing gloves and demonstrates punches at her primary job. But she unhooks the silver hoop earring she wears at the tip of her left ear and stores her wedding and engagement rings onto it during her classes. Straight married instructors are emulating this practice. She's doing exactly what some people fear most. She's being a different kind of married woman, and affecting straight women by example.

I think that we will find that we have more in common with straight married people than gay and bi people who don't care about commitment.

And I think of this commercial that used to piss my brother, the Dorkfish, and I off. They played it on the radio during the winter holidays. It was for 7-Up, I believe, and this snide guy said, "You don't *invent* a new tradition." To which we replied, how the hell did these idiots think traditions happened, anyway? They don't just fall down from the sky, you know? Someone has to do everything first.

It just really hits me sometimes that in this case, "someone" is us.


SassyFemme said...

Loved every word of what you wrote. I know I want to comment, but it's going to take me a while to formulate my thoughts and focus my brain on this.

scribble said...

beautiful, damn girl you can write !
Not that I didn't know that before.

You words rang so true to me.

Jan and I too bought matching bands, she isn't a diamond girl, but I wanted one.
I got a single solitaire on our ceremony day. It matches our bands nicely. She in turn got a family ring, as she married us all that day. Hers is a ring of entwined circles. Five rings, one for each of us.
It touched her deeply. My vows
spoke of it's meaning as I placed
it on her finger.
It is a lovely story that may
just be a future blog entry of
my own.

The other part of your story that made me want to shout YES with fists raised high, is the notion that these very blogs are public records to future gays/bisexuals. As you say so wonderfully in this piece.

All the more reason to not allow people to censor us. This is why my user name is once again, and will remain, Annie Thomas-Burke.
Thank you for qualifying and encouraging my truth without
knowing you had.

Love ya, kisses to your
adoring wife.

scribble said...

hmmm that would be simple solitaire...
the other would be redundant english now wouldn't it LOL

Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing that, it was truly awesome!

SassyFemme said...

I think rings are such an important part of the symbolism attached to a loving, committed relationship. A band that circles, never ending. With Fran and I, it was never a question of whether or not we would have rings, it was a question of what would it look like. My relationship is just as valid, just as real, as any other. Each generation makes strides. I'm glad you decided to "live equality" and make your post. For us to refuse to settle for anything less than what we want, deserve, and desire hurts not only us, but the future gays and lesbians which you wrote about. (I'm surprised and impressed you were able to compose so much during a commercial break! I always have to sit and weigh my thoughts and words.)

One of the things you (and all of us in couples that blog) are consciously or unconsciously accomplishing with this blog is showing how "normal" married (or commited, choose whatever word describes you or you choose to use) same sex couples really are. Just like any m/f couple, working, taking out the trash, cooking, paying bills, living life and all that it encompases.

BTW, Fran and I have matching gold bands, designed by a local jeweler. They're very unique. Mine has my grandmother's diamond in it. Fran doesn't like diamonds and chose to have an onyx stone in hers.

Nancy said...

This was a great post and Annie is right, you can write very well! You are one smart cookie!

Carie said... are an awesome writer, kinda like a painter of write it and we see is beautiful :o)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Very moving. Very beautiful. Peace.

sttropezbutler said...

Oh my CL....beautiful.


Karen said...

absolutely breathtaking words !
you spoke of your love and committment in such a beautiful way--you write from your heart and it is felt in every word !
beautiful post.
many hugs,

Nancy said...

I love the Sweet Potato Queens. I even have a tiara!
I have given out their books to several women!

As for the other issue on my blog. Even my hub gets gaggy, but he cleans up too! It is time the kids help out! NO KIDDING! UGH

Jaded&Opinionated said...

Beautiful post. The thing that strikes me is the idea that two women learning how to be a married couple should be any different from a man and a woman learning how. Marriage isn't something that have to learn to live with someone else. It's something that needs attention, nurturing and sometimes a referee. I don't think it's any different for any one of us. Falling in love, getting married, building a life together...I don't think those things are any different for any of us. At least, they shouldn't be. More alike than different.

PS... I had a 750 verbal and 500 math. I hate math. Ugh.

biscuit said...

hey there..
all of us married folk stopping by.. my wife has an engagement ring.. (that I got at a pawn shop cause I was broke.. who knew it would turn out to be a real, expensive gem) but after we got married, we had our bands and then we both got matching channel bands, which I like a lot.. I'm not a sparkly gal, so it works for me.. every other ring that I have had with a stone sticking out I have managed to damage somehow..
I like what you said about women watching other women be married.. it amazes me sometimes what people say about our relationship and how we handle things..
but I suppose that's a good thing.. we must all be doing something right!