Sunday, June 21, 2009

When We Met

The other day, Diane from A Stellar Life wrote a post about "the MS me" and part of it touched on how many folks would never know the pre-MS Diane. It got me thinking about the pre-MS Skip, something I don't often do as it's a very melancholy trip down memory lane. I got to thinking about when Skip and I met and realized with a bit of a shock that some of the details were starting to get fuzzy around the edges. So, I thought I'd write about it, as much to help preserve the memory as anything.

In August 1981, I was 25, employed as a secretary, working at Harvard Business School, and living in Medford, Massachusetts, in the top-floor apartment of a triple-decker. In the smaller cities that surround Boston, such as Cambridge, Somerville and Medford, the housing stock is largely made up of triple-deckers, which are freestanding houses with one apartment on each of its three floors. I had been living there for a few years, originally with my last girlfriend. She and I had broken up 8 months prior and she'd moved out about 3 or 4 months ago. I was going to move in two weeks myself. Moving into a section of Boston called the Back Bay, into a small apartment with a gay male friend on September 1st. I had known him for about half my life and we even dated briefly during our younger, straight days.

I went that evening in August to a gay bar in a suburb south of Boston called Randolph. I was meeting a couple of friends there who had just started going out together (I had introduced them). The bar was a homey sort of place with lots of different rooms frequented by both men and women. I spent a bit of time with my friends then went over to check out the pool table and video games. I loved pool, though wasn't very good at it, and was addicted to video games. While I was playing a video game, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there was a woman hovering nearby. I was curious what was on her mind, so didn't put in another quarter when I lost the game.

I stopped playing, and Skip came over. "Hi, my name's Skip. Can I buy you a drink?" I agreed, we sat down for the drink and began to chat. We spent the rest of the evening together, feeling an immediate connection. I liked her right away, thought she was interesting and funny. She has the most amazing sense of humor with a great, dry wit. She was cute, intelligent, interested in me. A great combo!

When I first laid eyes on Skip, she was quite feminine in appearance. She was dressed more for an evening out in a straight bar. Dressy pants and blouse, with high-heeled sandals. The topper was ... she was carrying a purse! I found out later she had been planning on going out to a straight bar but instead found her way to a gay one instead. She was still at that point in her life where she knew she was attracted to women, had been in relationships with a few, but was still trying to fit in to the straight world.

I had been out as a lesbian since I was 20 and had not fought the decision at all. When I fell for my best friend in college, it suddenly put all the pieces into place for me and I never looked back. I realized my years of attempting to be straight were the result of all the societal conditioning we're bombarded with. For Skip, it was not so easy. Although she had had relationships with two other women (one for about five years), she had not accepted herself as a lesbian and was still dating men.

I think it was good for Skip to meet up with me. I knew what I was and was looking for someone just like her. No questioning the object of my affection, nor expecting her to do the same. Our relationship went from 0 to 60 in about 1.2 seconds. There's a joke that goes something like this, "What does a lesbian bring to her second date? Answer: A U-Haul." Our situation wasn't much different. I moved in to my new apartment on September 1st and Skip was a full-time member of the household within a few weeks' time.

Fortunately, my roommate was accepting of the situation, probably because his boyfriend was with us quite a lot as well. We worked out pretty well as roommates, as he lived with us in three different apartments during the first 8 years Skip and I were together.

When I think back to Skip in those days, one of my strongest impressions is of her face, laughing. Big smile, bright eyes, lovely eyelashes, fair Irish skin aglow, short light-brown hair. She took such delight in life. She still has a great sense of humor, but it isn't too often nowadays that we see the laughing with abandonment and happiness once in such great abundance.


Anonymous said...

What a nice story. I want to hear more. You should write a book! It's Annemarie from the group in Framingham. I'm out in LA now, and I had a bad morning. Joe had a fall this morning. I was looking for something online for some kind of peer support and I thought of your blog. I read thru about a half dozen of your blogs. They are awesome. I love them. I'll be checking in from time to time. I can totally relate to your challenges in un-cranki-fying yourself. I'm with you sister. I went to 2 1/2 years of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to learn the techniques recommended by the APA. But it doesn't go away if you just know them. I have to practices these things daily to keep your body conditioned not to react to anger with tension and anxiety and lots of yelling. Then a fall happens and I think to myself, "oh yeah, I haven't done any mindfulness, yoga, meditation, prayer, deep breathing, exercise, writing, or creative arts in months... no wonder I'm yelling at everyone." Good luck on your trip. If you are in the Los Angeles area on the 24th drop me a line...

awb said...

It's great, that feeling when you meet that special person and you realize you know it. I too was lucky enough to have that happen, am so glad she knew the other me.

I also learned something new with the purse thing, thought that was just a woman thing. Shows how observant I am!

I'm going to visit family in Medford next month, small world.


Cranky said...

Annemarie - thanks for your post! And your compliments. Other than Joe's recent fall, I hope all is going well and that you two have achieved what you hoped to find in LA (or are on your way to achieving it). Always a challenge to move, but across the country with a toddler, MS in your life and new jobs to settle into, it can't be easy. I'd be cranky, too!

The trip this week isn't quite as far as LA, which is lucky, otherwise Skip would be really nervous. She prefers I stay in the same time zone. For some reason, that's less stressful.

Andy - definitely great to have found that special person. Glad your wife knew you pre-MS as well. Hmmm, you're traveling a lot. Cruise, trip to Boston. Nice!

steve said...

Now you're scaring me. I came out at 20. I met BR in a bar. I lose at pool.

And now I'm all misty missing BR. Seven more days to reunion.

Cranky said...

Hope the week flies by!

Nice to see the "separated at birth" theme can continue! :-)