It was four years ago that I met him, the man who became my partner.
A few weeks before, I’d just tossed my entire life into the air, like a set of puzzle pieces. Again, as I’d done so often. I’d moved to Chicago to take a job – a writing job! People were paying me to write!
It may have been a sunny August afternoon, but when this tall man walked into Caribou Coffee, with his goofy smile and his crooked bike helmet, it felt like I’d come from a thousand miles of frozen tundra into the warmth of the sun.
It may sound like a dusty Hallmark card cliche, but he’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
We know how lucky we are to have each other, and how it feels like we wasted years before we met each other. So much of that relationship drama that happens in your twenties simply doesn’t exist, replaced with curiosity and gratitude.
When we see each other after a long day of work (and school), we embrace, and stay close for a long, long time. Neither one of us wants to let go. We are very, very lucky.
It was a rough week for me last week. The debate over That Restaurant Which Shall Not Be Named brought everyone’s feelings and beliefs to the forefront. I know everyone is tired of hearing about it.
I felt very schizophrenic. On the one hand, I wanted to be respectful of other people, their differences in opinion, their faith. But I’d swing, manically, to rage and anger when I saw little of that respect in return.
Not only were people utterly cavalier in making grand pronouncements and decisions for people they didn’t know and lives they didn’t understand, but a number of people had the utter gall to complain that we, as LGBT people, shouldn’t be complaining, picketing or fighting back. Apparently, we weren’t being polite and thankful enough to them(!).
Of course you can get married, they say. Just marry a woman. Write a Power of Attorney for Health Care, they say, and of course they’ll let you in the hospital to see him if he’s hurt or injured. (This, when hospitals are refusing rape patients care based on the physician’s personal beliefs – a scenario that would easily happen – and HAS happened – to partners even with a POA.)
After that exhausting debate, it’s tempting to let off steam and joke about the topic. It’s a lot easier for people to protest an idea when it’s just an idea, a vague notion. And for a majority of people in this country, that’s all it is – something happening to someone else.
My partner has a name. He doesn’t have any online profiles, and on social media, for privacy reasons, I jokingly call him The German.
In three weeks he will go back to Germany, where he was born and raised and where his citizenship is still held, for renewal of a visa. That visa will allow him to live here for several more years. He’s waited for years for a green card, but post-9/11 processing times means it will likely be over a DECADE from his arrival before he is granted one.
It’s incredibly likely that the whole process will flow evenly and without incident. But I’ll be sitting on pins and needles, waiting for him to come back, because no matter what groundwork we do, his new visa and re-entry is in the hands of some person at Customs and Immigration, and it comes down to praying that he or she doesn’t have a bad day.
Yes, seriously. And it’s not just us – this affects thousands of people. (I just learned that a friend of mine and his Canadian partner have to go through this every year.)
Illinois granted some limited rights last year when it approved civil unions, but there were no real changes regarding immigration (and only limited rights in other categories).
We’ve invested so much here. Our lives. Our jobs, and my education. We work hard and bought a home last year. And all of it – our future, our well being – rests on the thinnest of eggshells.
And all this because some of our neighbors would prefer we remain invisible, or inaudible.
My mother died in 2007. We had the best conversations about life and about people, and she taught me so much. I’d love to hear what she thought of the world today.
Mom was the kind of Christian I always wanted to be and strived to be. She treated everyone with kindness and warmth. She spent thousands of hours volunteering for a thrift shop and did so much for the customers and her fellow volunteers.
She was also the least judgmental person I’ve ever met. She wanted to give everyone a hand. Helping others and building community was her idea of church. So many people loved her because of her warmth.
I hear her voice in my head, telling me to be understanding about the motivations of the people who disagree with me, advising me to just be the best that I can be in my life and be an example – of tolerance, of acceptance, of warmth.
I’m a worrier, and I don’t cope very well with the unknown. I just want to KNOW. Know why so many people are so invested in affecting the lives of people they’ve never met. Know that he returns without incident. I’m probably silly to worry, but we should be able to walk on firmer ground.
ich liebe dich, spatzi.