Happy Pride Month!

I was sitting at my desk in Georgetown, an overpriced salad to my right and my mortal enemy (the office line) ringing to my left. It was my first stint in an administrative role, and I was settling into complacency nicely, passing the time on Gchat with friends sitting in similar desks in similar eras of complacency in New York and Charleston and Nashville. It seemed to be the same everywhere—we were all stuck, and we were okay with it.

An old roommate of mine popped up on my screen, and we chatted for a while covering the basics: current events (engagements and weddings), finances (whose credit card debt was higher than whose), politics (which friend said this about that), and then the meat and potatoes: relationships.

I had just made the move to Washington, DC, after doing long distance with my then boyfriend for over a year, and we were experiencing the standard highs and lows of learning to live in the same city for the first time. My friend had just made the move to Austin, Texas, pursuing an elevated path in her career and a new Southern city to place her roots.

Both in new cities at new jobs surrounded by new friends, we were in parallel worlds in many ways. We started to reminisce on our glory days in Charleston, years of hazy nights out on King Street, days at the beach that turned into fierce sunburns and even fiercer hangovers, and more late night heart-to-hearts than empty wine bottles in our kitchen. It was glorious, as most things are when seen through the rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia.

As I began to ramble on about life in DC and a void of girl friends I was experiencing that left me lonely and flailing socially, she was tiptoeing out onto a very shaky plank, and I almost didn’t notice. Almost.

She started gushing over a new friend she had made in Austin: a beautiful girl with awesome hair, really great clothes, an annoying dog but an endearing devotion to it, an amazing sense of humor, a huge heart, and an important-sounding job to boot. Everything in her life revolved around this girl. If I was slightly more narcissistic—and focused on the fact that she had made a new friend in her new city and I had not—I may have missed it.

I thought, this sounds a lot like love.

I kept my mouth shut during the next few episodes of Today on Gchat, wondering if my novel-driven brain was just creating plot lines out of thin air. But a couple days later, the plot drew breath and materialized into reality. One late night, after multiple bottles of wine that led to extreme bravery on both sides, an undeniable shift happened for both parties. My old roommate had fallen for someone over the weeks and months prior; it just happened to be a girl.

She needed a safe place for this news to land, somewhere secure but open and compassionate. She needed an ear, and she chose mine. After making me promise not to tell a single soul, she signed off into her 9-5 and I signed off into mine, stunned into a silence that was slightly victorious (I knew it) and slightly terrified. What exactly did this mean for her? Was she scared? What would her parents say? What would our other friends say?

A few months went by, and things progressed quickly. The Gchat episodes seemed to be on fast forward, just like their relationship. There were trips together and weddings and dinner dates and weekend brunches and weeknight leftovers and Sunday afternoons and Friday nights and deep conversations and comfortable silence. And she told me every happy detail.

And I thought, this sounds a lot like love.

In true relationship fashion, the tides would turn and dark clouds would roll in. There were illnesses and tragedies and cancer and injuries and work stuff and missing support and bad reactions and hurtful words and selfishness and the ever-present family stuff. And she told me very painful detail.

And I thought, this sounds a lot like love.

As realization set in that this just might be the real thing, her shock mirrored my own just a few years before. Love was not on my to-do list when it found me again, or I should say when it tracked me down in the kitchen of a friend who was out of town, while I was grabbing a beer out of their refrigerator at 3 AM, the sound of Macklemore music videos playing in the next room, trying to hurry so I wouldn’t miss a second of the last late night party of Fourth of July weekend. I turned around quickly and ran smack into the lips of my best friend’s guy friend who was visiting for the weekend, who wore an American Flag bucket hat on the beach and funny crew socks with his shoes. While I did lock myself in a room that night to hide from him, I ended up marrying that guy who showed up in the kitchen and caused the trajectory of my life to pivot in that one, infinitesimal moment in history. That was five years ago. You just never know.

So when my friend entered panic mode and said “I can’t believe this is happening, I didn’t plan this, I didn’t see this coming,” I totally understood. I saw the sharp turn she was headed for, another road forming where before there was nothing.

And I thought, this sounds a lot like love.

As their relationship grew and the veil was dropped and phone calls were made and tough conversations were had, they stood firmly together through awkward introductions and nasty rumors and lazy judgment and harsh criticism and tangible fear and aching hurt and sinking disappointment. It looked like any other relationship braving rough waters, just with the added detail of it being two girls in the boat.

All love comes at a cost. You’re essentially saying yes to one person, one life, and no to every other person, every other life. It doesn’t matter if it’s two girls or two guys or a guy and girl. What it looks like from the outside is not the defining factor. The defining factors are on the inside: the patience, the commitment, the devotion, the care, the promises, the forgiveness, the acceptance, the yes’s when you want to say no and the no’s when you want to say yes. It is a million tiny choices every single day that add up to one four-letter word. A word without room for judgment or condemnation. A word without space for hate.

“Love is love is love”—the type of hand that holds another can’t change that.

My friend planned a trip to Europe for her girlfriend’s 30th birthday this summer. The plan was to spend a few days in each country, starting in Iceland, then Germany, then Amsterdam, and ending in London. A few days ago I got a text from her that said she had royally f*d up.

“We were supposed to leave Iceland today…until I realized that I booked the wrong flight. A big mess, a pissed girlfriend, and $750 later, we are rebooked for tomorrow. My anxiety is through the damn roof, so I am eating lobster soup and drinking again. Patty’s forgiven me…we will see you tomorrow, Berlin.”

And I thought, this sounds a lot like love. 

Because it is.

Love,

V

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