I remember meeting him, at the Northwest Science Fiction Convention, in 1996. I remember meeting him at a room party I was co-hosting. He tells me we actually met the day before, at a panel discussion. I do remember discussing the cute, shy guy from Missouri with Ray after the party. I remember meeting him again, a year later, at NorWesCon. I remember him showing up for a Red Dwarf Marathon Party Ray and I hosted a couple months later, and because by the time the party ended there were no more buses going back to Tacoma, he crashed at our place and we drove him home the next day. By that point, he and Ray had bonded like they had known each other for years. So we started seeing him a lot more often.
When Ray died suddenly (only days after the doctors had given a cautiously optimistic report on how the second round of chemo had gone), Michael was one of many friends who kept me from falling completely to pieces in the aftermath…
I remember asking him out on a date. I remember nervously telling a friend Michael and I were going on a date, and being so relieved when the friend was excited. I also remember friends and family who were not happy at the news. Most thought that it was simply too soon after Ray’s death (not quite three months).
And then, of course, there were the family members who were all praying and hoping that, with Ray gone, I would suddenly transform into a straight man and bring home a nice Christian girl to introduce to the family.
It is quite possible that I had already fallen in love with Michael by the time I asked him on that first date, but I’m not completely certain. That spring, at NorWesCon, there was a moment that I remember quite clearly: he was grinning at me after I had given him an enormous purple plush Easter Bunny, that I had the distinct conviction that more than anything in the world, I wanted to keep finding ways to make him smile.
So I may not know when it happened, but I know when I realized it.
I remember worrying about him meeting my relatives. Things had not gone well eight years earlier when I had first tried to introduce them to Ray. Even though several of them had eventually warmed to Ray before he died, more than one of them had made it abundantly clear after hearing about Michael that they were disappointed that I was dating a guy.
I remember being nervous as we came in the door at my grandparents’. We were on our way to Mom’s, and had made arrangements to stop in and visit several people along the way. We were expected. There had been the usual comments about how much people were looking forward to meeting him. But I couldn’t tell if the statements were genuine or merely polite.
To say I was nervous was an understatement.
And then he started talking to Grandma. She recognized his accent right away, and seemed genuinely delighted when she found out he’d grown up in the same parts of Missouri and Oklahoma where she had spent part of her young adulthood. It wasn’t long until they were both laughing and exchanging stories about places they both remembered. Occasionally Grandma turned to either me or my step-grandpa to explain some obscure detail of the thing they were both laughing about. At one point my step-grandpa leaned over to me and whispered something to the effect that he thought if the two of us quietly slipped away it might be hours before either Michael or Grandma noticed.
I wasn’t upset at all.
I don’t remember the other stops on our trip that time. I was so incredibly relieved that Michael and Grandma had hit it off, that the rest of the trip just blurred into the relief of that moment. I think the picture above, of Michael and I in the living room of the house my Aunt Silly lived in at the time, was taken on that trip, but it might have been a little later.
That wasn’t the end of the homophobia in the family, but I knew if they gave Michael a chance, if they would see him for who he was, and not just through the filter of “proof that we have a fag in the family” that he would win them over. As I found out when I was visiting without him just this last December, he certainly has. Mom, Aunt Silly, my sister, and my nieces all seemed to independently decide that was a good time to tell me how much they love Michael.
Who wouldn’t love him? He’s smart, sweet, generous, helpful, and the most capable man I know. He’s also genuine. It never ceases to amaze me how honest and forthright he is, while still managing to always be kind and tactful. I really wish I knew how he does it. He’s cheerful, unselfish, and yet extremely practical.
And I will never understand how I could be so amazingly, mind-bogglingly lucky that he loves me. Because there is no way I deserve someone as fantastic as Michael.
One other very important moment I remember. I don’t remember all of the words that we were asked to repeat, because I was too busying crying and being amazed that it was actually happening. But I remember when, finally, in the eyes of the law and in front of many of our loved ones, he married me.
(Yes, I’m crying as I type this. Don’t judge me. Just hand me a kleenex and keep reading!)
I can’t say too many times how grateful I am that he’s in my life—or how lucky I am to have even met him, let alone fall in love with him. He is too good for me, but in the immortal words of Mae West, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”