I say ‘Seven Twenty-one’ because it’s been six years legally wed and twenty-one years, um, illegally married?
And that’s quite a milestone for someone who never thought this would happen to him. But I was fine with that; I had a nice life, good friends, I dated, I had a home I loved, a job I loved, but that all changed when I got a computer and went into one of those old AOL—show of hands, who remembers AOL—chatrooms and suddenly there was someone talking to me.
It was not the way I’d expected it to go, and I was certain it would amount to nothing, but what are a few private messages and some emails? Right? What could go wrong, or right. So, there were phone and actual handwritten letters and cards, and pictures exchanged and life-stories told. He wanted to meet, but he lived in Miami and I lived in California, and couldn’t be much further apart; so, I flew to Miami but …
Quick aside: I used to be the kind of person that didn’t bold chances like flying 3,000 miles to meet a perfect …and oy, did he sound perfect … stranger in a city I’d never been to before, and, as the day approached for my flight, I actually created a story in my head that I would take the flight, but get off the plane when we had a stopover on Houston., spend the week in some cheeseball hotel in Houston, and then fly back home and tell everyone that Carlos was nice but he wasn’t the one for me; and then I would ignore him online and by phone—did I invent “ghosting”—but I decided to, as I told in another post, Shake the Etch-a-Sketch and go.
I stayed on the plane and in Ft. Lauderdale, there he was, in a freaking bowtie no less, with a bouquet of roses. He looked exactly like his pictures, but much more handsome and adorable. We spent eleven days together … in Miami …in July! We went to Key West and watched the sunset and … yeah … and we went to South Beach and swam in the ocean and … yeah … we stayed at his house and I met his Aunt Gloria and … yeah, only a lot quieter because she’s a light sleeper.
Then it was over, and I was flying home and what in the hell was this? Was it a 3,000-mile-long distance relationship? A 3,000-mile-long distance booty call?
It was more, and we both knew it because the next month Carlos was on the West Coast, meeting my friends and my parents and … yeah … in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and … yeah … in my parents’ house though we were much quieter because they were right downstairs!
Then that was over; what next? We called and emailed still; he spoke with my parents and friends and I spoke with his, until it became clear that I would move to Miami. I had a job that would transfer well to Florida and, well, since that leap to Florida to meet him turned out so well, how hard would a leap to Florida to live with him be?
So, where does this all lead? It leads to today, twenty-one years after I stepped off another plane in Florida, though this time I wouldn't be staying a week or so. Twenty-one years ago today Carlos and I started our life together and there was no looking back; only forward.
Fast forward to 2014 and the reality that marriage equality was happening, and we had longed talked about being married; we wanted that; we wanted the world, our friends and family, coworkers, strangers, the check-out girl at the Food Lion, the waiter who brought me another cocktail, to know that we weren’t just a couple, we weren’t close friends, we weren’t partners—though those are all good things—we wanted everyone to know that we are Mister and Mister.
On October 17, 2014—fourteen years to the day that I moved to Miami—we were back across the country in Bellingham, Washington, to be married with my father as a witness. I seriously never thought I would see the day that I would ... that I could ... marry Carlos, but we did just that. I remember as a kid—a not-yet-out-but-knowing-I-was-different kid—telling my mother that I would never get married, but I would have a maid to take care of my kids. I remember that story and realize now that might have been my first shot at coming out—as a six-year-old, I think—because, even then, I never thought I could get married, never thought I’d be allowed to get married and create my own version of family and home.
And so we did it, and it’s been seven-and-twenty-one years. And while it has been lovely, raucous, and fun, and there have been down times and sad times and bad times, but, as Elaine Stritch would say—and god am I gay … Elaine Stritch!—we’re still here.
And looking forward, always forward, and while I didn’t say this myself—Charlotte said it in one of those Sex and the City movies … again, god I’m gay—I like to say that I am happy every single day with Carlos. Oh, not all day, every day, because that’s life, but every single day for the last twenty-one years, for some small or large part of the day, I have realized how happy I am and how happy he makes me, and that I am still crazy in love with him.
And that’s something to celebrate!