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Little Boxes

Simple cardboard box

Image via Wikipedia

We live in a box.

Really.

It’s a 960 square foot box, but a box nonetheless.

I love the safety and security of our box. It’s warm and cozy and light filled.

It’s open and inviting and private. It’s easy to get too, but off the beaten path.

It’s large enough for our families to visit comfortably, but just the right size for the two of us.

It’s not so big that it consumes our time. We have little trouble keeping up with it.

We know where everything is. It’s familiar.

We know where the light switches are and how far to turn the faucets to get the temperature of the bath water just right.

We know where dust collects and spiders make webs.

We know we’ll trip the breaker if we turn the microwave on while the little electric fireplace is also running.

There is great comfort in its familiarity.

It holds few surprises and provides us a foundation on which to live.

It gives us too, a place to step out of and away from and gives us a place to come back to.

Our box both protects us and confines us. It is our sanctuary. If we never venture out, it becomes our prison.

Our mind is also a box. It is all those things our home is. It is our sanctuary. Yet, if we never venture out, if we never step outside our own thoughts and ideas and beliefs, our minds becomes our prison.

I use to think I lived far outside any box. It turned out, I’d just found a community of boxes just like mine.

If we don’t step out of our boxes and our communities of identical boxes, our world is destined to be small and truth destined to be defined by the delusions of our own mind or the minds of the fearful like-minded few we let in.

We received an email yesterday, inviting us to join other groups protesting outside a church a couple of hours from here.

The object of the protest was not the church, but the group they had invited in, the Exodus group.

If you aren’t familiar with them, they try to shame and brainwash  people into believing they aren’t really gay.

We wanted to go, but Lee had to work this afternoon and I didn’t want to give up my morning with him and go alone.

So, instead, we took out 3 month old Boston Terrier puppy, Sam and went for a long walk along the lake shore by our home.

The drought that has plagued our region the past year has done us a great favor.

Tiny islands that are normally only assessable by boat are now connected to the shore and to each other by sandbars exposed by the declining water level.

We can literally walk to an island and then to another and another and another.

These tiny bits of land are untouched by progress or economic decline. Owned by the Army Corp of Engineers, they have been left in their natural state and serve as a refuge for wildlife.

Now, they serve as refuge for us and our neighbors and others who have discovered how easy it is to get to them and how beautiful they are.

Many walk with their dogs and even let their pets off leash once they get across the first sandbar.

It is rare when we walk there and not meet others walking with their dogs, jogging or even sitting on a beach beside a small fire. In the mornings, we see the evidence of late night revelers or even campers.

We want Sam to be very social.

Our other dog, a chihuahua/Pomeranian mix, though an angel to us, is a terror around dogs she doesn’t know. She doesn’t care that she weighs only five pounds. There is no dog she would not attack if given the chance. It takes her time to warm up to other dogs and people. For that reason, she stays at home, but we walk Sam every day and sometimes twice each day. Because of my health, to do this is a double joy after the years of not being able to walk much of anywhere.

Sam thinks each person we meet is there just to say hello to her. She also thinks every other dog wants to play.

She never even barks but licks and jumps and shakes with welcoming joy. When it is just Sam and I, we often make new friends, stopping and chatting with other dog families.

When it is the three is us, Lee, Sam and I, we often meet the same response we meet out in the rest of the world. We get the polite hello or nod, but little else, despite our best efforts.

This morning, was different.

We met a couple with a blond spaniel. They had beautiful British accents. They told us how they’d traveled all the around every reachable island and except for a few rocky areas, had traveled with ease.

We met a very young couple sitting by a fire eating Girl Scout cookies. They especially loved Sam and Sam thoroughly enjoyed climbing into the girl’s lap, getting a little closer to the open cookie box.

The couple with the two Corgis were extremely nice as well. Even the jogger in the blue jacket nodded and halfway smiled.

Sam when we first got her

 

I’m quite sure we all live in very different boxes and communities of boxes, but this morning, we each stepped outside them to play with a little dog.

I’m not sure who stepped outside first, us or them.

We were a bit like Gilligan’s Island, a bunch of strangers, strange to each other, together on a deserted island… Sam would be our Gilligan… uncharted territory for sure.

Who can resist that face?

February 18, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Last Valentine

Where have I been? Dace, I apologize for not responding. I took a long blog break, computer break really, only using my phone for web world connections most of the time. I read your posts though , as they came across my email and enjoyed each one.

I think I am back. I’ve written a few posts on my life with heart disease blog, a lighter sort of posting mostly about our vegan intentions and efforts. Life and living seems to be easier these days. I’m either use to the threat of dying from this disease or I really am miraculously much better. I like to think it is the latter. How else could I walk the streets of downtown Atlanta at last year’s Pride Festival in October? I was in a wheelchair the year before.  How else could I walk the shores of the lake by our house? How else could I be back at all?

I wonder too, is life easier as the perceived “same-sex couple?” or, am I simply growing use to it as well? The stark differences remain. In fact, as I go and do more, I see the difference more. When I walk along the lake with just our little dog, Sam, people stop to chat. They smile and look me in the eye. When Lee goes with us, seldom do people stop or barely even say hello.

If time allows, we “win them over.” In a restaurant, we usually bring a hostile server around with our warmth and smiles. Sullen cashiers often come around, too.

There is a loneliness though. It is not a personal, as in my own loneliness, but a piece of life that is not available to us well beyond the legal gaps in our basic human rights. Other than with family, and only some family at that, there is an absence of men in our lives. Despite our being in truth a heterosexual couple, we are almost void of heterosexual couple friends.

Women are comfortable around us, both straight and lesbian. Men, however, are not. With the exception of a very few, even the men who claim to be comfortable exert a quiet hostility towards Lee and cannot seem to resist the urge to make snide remarks disguised as funny comments or sad jokes. Daniel, Charlie, Johnny, Jim, Keith, you are the exceptions should you ever read this.

Perhaps it is Lee’s own guardedness that calls this out in men. Perhaps, it is Lee’s silent demand that they not see him as a woman who puts them on edge. Who is on guard first, Lee or them? And, why?

Perhaps, it is the wholeness, the completeness, the quiet strength of Lee that intimidates them so. I have known a few so well, these biologically correct men, through failed relationships and painful marriages. None of those come close in strength, nor in gentleness. None have dared to see me nor have allowed me to really see them.

I’m reminded of the movie, “What Women Want.” Lee has lived that movie, without the comedic punch lines. Lee knows too well the woman’s heart and mind. Not only has he lived in a woman’s body, he has been allowed in where few men are allowed or dare to enter. He has been the confidant and safe place, much like the gay guy friend of a group of giddy girls. Perhaps straight men know that and are intimidated by that truth, that Lee has gone where they cannot go and would never have the courage to go if allowed to. Of course they would not be allowed there, though. It takes that gentleness and wisdom that only comes by personal understanding and even experience to gain entry.

With all the harshness of a bigoted world, life is indeed far easier still.

Despite all a cruel world and the insanity a fearful humanity can dish out, life has never been so kind.

Despite all the attempts of religiosity to demonize a loving God and the layers of human love that reflect It, love itself is far greater than their efforts.

I have beside me a most gentle man of strength.

He is my last Valentine.

Life saved the best of the best for last.

I love you Lee.

February 12, 2012 Posted by | The Gay Me, The Straight Me | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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