“Maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrong…”
This is a lyric from a Jeff Buckley song called “Lover You Should Have Come Over.” It doesn’t seem like that long ago that this line in this song drove through my heart like a stake. Early in my relationship with Gina, I found myself looking at other couples and wondering what their secret was, why it seemed so easy for them. Gina and I have come through a lot to get where we are, and there was a time where I think we both wondered if we could make “us” work. For me, there always seemed to be something bigger at work in our journey, something that was both the destination and the guide, something that made it okay that it wasn’t always easy. I have likened the feeling to being trapped under a very thin sheet of ice without the proper tools to break through the ice. We tried and tried to break through, with no luck, but I knew if we kept trying long enough, we’d get through the ice and be able to gulp the sweet, crisp, fresh air that was waiting on the other side. And we were both willing to keep trying.
It’s safe to say there was a time where it was pockets of brilliance amongst a lot of mediocrity. Never horrible, but rarely blissful. We both understood one thing: we could not understand each other. We talked a lot (hazard of lesbian relationships – women LOVE to talk), but we would both wind up frustrated and confused. About two years ago, we both admitted it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when we pictured “happily ever after,” and that we both deserved better. Now, I feel like this is the part where a lot of couples would break up. But we didn’t want to break up. We were already in love, and we weren’t angry at each other. So we made a mutual decision to work towards something better.
For me, I stopped questioning everything and started listening. I listened to what she said and what she didn’t say. I listened to myself, to what I said and what I didn’t say. I tried to talk less and listen more. I tried to leave all of the crappy stuff in the past and look at her as she stood in the moment, unattached to anything before. I didn’t pay attention to who she had been or who I had been, but rather who we presently were and where we wanted to be. And none of this represented a change to my foundation – instead, it was a needed maturation. And all of it, all of the work, was a hell of a lot easier than wading through the misunderstandings of before.
It didn’t take long for us to smash through the ice. And now? Now it’s better than I ever imagined it would be. I get a ridiculous amount of joy from her and her place in my life, and my place in hers. I feel lucky every day. She has become my best friend, and every day seems to be better than the one before.
We recently registered as domestic partners, and of course in this hetero-centric culture we live in, a lot of people have asked about me taking her name. Why did you take her name? Is she Gina Papa Hall now? Why didn’t she take your name? The truth is, I took her name initially for two reasons: 1. I like it, and 2. our children will have that last name and I think it’s important to have the same last name as them. But now that it’s official, I feel like a football player wearing the same jersey as my teammate. Of course I wouldn’t wear a different jersey – how will the world know we’re part of the same team? It’s also a hard-won proclamation – she is mine and I am hers. It took a while, but we finally figured it out, we finally have become one of those couples other couples can look up to, and we think everyone should know it.