5 Years Ago

Five years ago today, on a scorching DC night I went to a bar to meet a friend. ALA was being held in DC and I had spent the day conferencing and had already been to one librarian happy hour. It was relatively late – around 11 PM, but I was younger then and the bar was across the street from my apartment, so I figured what the heck. I’d have one drink and then head on home to get some sleep.

I was chatting with my friend, drinking a vodka-cranberry, when this very cute girl walked into the bar. I noticed her. Of course. I had no plans to talk to her. I’m just not good at chatting up strangers. But then – miracle of miracles – she had gone to grad school with my friend. She came over to say hi. I tried not to make a complete fool of myself. She wandered off to talk to other friends. I was interviewed by a NY Times reporter about the hipness of librarians (Random!). I figured that was it. I had missed my shot at the cute girl because I was such a wimp.

But she came back! And when my friend went to the bathroom, she took over her seat and didn’t leave. We just kept talking. She bought me a drink. I tried to flirt a little. We shut down the bar. I had never before, and have never since, shut down a bar.

Outside the bar, we kept talking. Her friend, the DJ, was packing up. The girl said, so what now? And I thought, now we kiss. And for the first time in my life, I made the first move. It was worth it.

A few days later she flew home to Reno. I didn’t even wait a month before flying out to visit (for 9 days!) By December, she had found a job in DC and moved into my studio apartment. Three months after that we bought a house. And then, almost three years after that night at the bar, reader, I married her. At the beginning everything happened so fast that it seems almost crazy that it has now been FIVE years. Five amazingly happy years in which I have been luckier than I could have ever imagined. All from stopping by a bar on a hot summer night.

jami and me

5 Years Ago

Two Years

The Long View

(Photo by Eva Russo. I love how we are giving each other the “Holy Crap!” look here.)

Jami and I have been married for 2 years today! Being married is awesome. Not without its occasional frustrations certainly, but really, really great. One of the things I love most about being married is that as a team, we are “can do”. Things that once seemed like pipe dreams (buying a house, having a kid, going on vacations) have become regular parts of life. I feel lucky to have married such a wonderful woman, caring mate, general smartypants, excellent friend and, now, amazing parent. This is a good day.

Two Years

Lessons from the First Trimester: My Wife is Awesome

As I mentioned yesterday, I found the first trimester to be hard. As you can probably imagine, being tired, nauseous and nervous did not make me much fun to be around. I was grumpy, emotional, not feeling too amorous, and not doing much of anything around the house. Luckily, Jami was GREAT. She coped amazingly with her pregnant, but not productive, wife. Normally we alternate cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, but she took over all the household cleaning (the only chores I managed to do were the grocery shopping and the laundry). I love to cook and usually make dinner almost every night, but when my exhaustion hit around week 5, she ordered pizza, cooked us dinner, and served as sous chef on the nights I threw something basic together. She ran upstairs to get me glasses of water. She was a good sport about “dinners” I made consisting of hummus, veggies, and pita chips. She bought lunch for almost two months straight (not cooking means there aren’t any leftovers to send for lunch the next day). Most importantly she was patient and loving with a wife who was suddenly grumpy, whiny, negative and emotional. I married the right woman.

Lessons from the First Trimester: My Wife is Awesome

Taxes

I weirdly love doing my taxes. Jami’s taxes too, since she is kind enough to let me do them. I think it’s something about the order of it – all those little boxes to fill in, although the fact that we usually get money back (especially since buying the house) certainly doesn’t hurt.

This was my first year to do our taxes since we got married, and so for the first time I got to see the actual financial cost to us for not having our marriage recognized by the Federal government. Because we filed jointly in DC as a married couple, I had to create a “mock” federal return to use as the basis of our District return. Actual cost to us to be “unmarried” in the eyes of Uncle Sam? $869. We would have gotten $869 more back if we had been able to file jointly.

Now the money to me isn’t that big a deal (although I’m sure I could think of lots of good, economy stimulating things to do with the money). We are still getting tax returns this year and I don’t actually mind paying taxes. I think social programs are important and I’m happy to be able to support them. The few extra pennies that Medicaid, and public schools, and the VA, and the NEA, and everyone’s grandparents get because of my tax dollars are money well spent, I think.

I mention this only because it is a concrete example of the difference that marriage (the federally recognized legal institution of marriage) has on one couple. People who oppose marriage equality often ask why same-sex couples want to get “married” any way. Why aren’t civil unions good enough? Why isn’t living together enough? In what way are same-sex couples being harmed by being denied the right to marry?

Generally, the concrete, practical arguments in favor of marriage equality sort of bother me. Not that the issues themselves aren’t important (if your wife is dying and you are not being allowed into her hospital room, that is not a silly issue), but I hate that every discussion of same-sex marriage comes down to hospital visitation and taxes. I resent the fact that I have to justify why I wanted to enter into an institution that opposite-sex couples enter every day without ever thinking about the practical benefits. I am a human being and a citizen, and I believe I have a right to marry the person I love and build a life with them. Period.

But I also believe that the most important thing anyone can do to battle discrimination and homophobia is to come out. When faced with “real” gay people, folks generally become more tolerant and supportive of equal rights. I generally try to avoid the soapbox, but by not mentioning the tangible costs to being denied marriage equality, I worry that I am allowing those opposed to continue with the false assertion that no one is being harmed by the current state of affairs. Marriage inequality cost my wife and I $869. That’s not the end of world and I’m not upset about it, but it’s not nothing either.

Taxes

Marriage Equality: A Rant

Dear Well-Meaning, Soon-to-be-ex-coworker of Jami’s,

I know that you are a well-intentioned, liberal lady who is all for the homos, so I want to give you a little piece of friendly advice. Do not ask your soon-to-be-ex-coworker if her new employer will “recognize” her marriage.  It’s a shitty thing to ask, and here’s why…

Your soon-to-be-ex-coworker (ie, my wife) is legally married in the District of Columbia. I’m sure that you know this because it would have been hard to miss the hullabaloo when it became legal earlier this year. This means that my marriage is a legal marriage and that it is EXACTLY the same as every other legal marriage in the District of Columbia. This is the beauty of marriage equality. This is exactly why marriage equality is so important. Because suddenly relationships between two consenting adults, any two consenting adults, who choose to marry are treated the exactly the same. If your DC employer will pay for the health care of the opposite-sex spouses of their employees, for example, they will also now be paying for the health care of the same-sex spouses of their employees. This is why Catholic Charities is no longer covering spouses on their health care plans.

DC’s move to marriage equality wasn’t an empty gesture, it was a very real, legal, serious thing. And by asking if my marriage is “recognized”, you are saying it is different. You are the ONLY person who is saying that it’s different. Which I am sure is not what your well-meaning, liberal self intended. My best advice? If you believe in marriage equality, recognize all marriages as equal. Practice what you preach. And if there is some way in which my marriage is not equal (there is still that pesky little matter of the federal government), and it’s something that I want to talk you about, I will bring it up. Because if you bring it up, especially if you imply that my marriage isn’t recognized, it’s just going to make me feel like you see my marriage as “less than”, which I most certainly do not and at which I will probably take offense.

I know the question was not meant in the manner in which it was received, and living in a glass house, I have no wish to throw stones. I’m sure, as a well-meaning, liberal white lady myself, I have made my share of well-intentioned, but not-so-appropriate remarks. So please just think about what I said, and the next time you are faced with a coworker or casual acquaintance who is married to someone of the same sex, don’t focus on the differences that you may see between their marriage and other marriages, focus on what is the same – or just don’t focus on their marriage at all. Thanks!

Carrie

Marriage Equality: A Rant