I guess I’ll see you next lifetime…

Moving back to a place you’ve lived before comes with a lot of peculiar experiences. One of which is running in to people you’ve known before. Today, I ran in to someone I knew in my early 20’s, when we were both different people.

She was someone I crushed on so hard. I went to the coffee shop she worked at every day, just so I could see and talk to her. I was so young, and in such a strange time of my life. I didn’t understand the world the way I do now. After several months of coffee shop talk, she invited me to a party and I went. I was introduced to a world I’d never known, and while I was trying to make small talk (hell for an introvert) I was trying so hard to fight the urge to run.

I didn’t make any new friends, or get folded in to the social scene, but after the party I decided to ask her out. She said yes and we hung out a few times but nothing ever came of it. I met my ex wife, and moved away. A few years later I ran in to her again at a club. I was dancing, and was really excited to see her. When I said her name, she immediately corrected me and gave me a new name, new pronoun, and a huge hug. I was also given an apology for the weird/abrupt way our dating had gone. In that moment, I understood. He looked so happy, and I was happy for him.

Today, I went out to breakfast with my family. Sitting in a small (amazing!!) bakery across from my husband with my daughter on my lap and my son outside with the puppy and his best friend I saw him again. He came in with what I can only presume is his wife (rings, matching tattoos, public displays of affection) and they were both smiling. I looked at him, and looked at my husband, and realized how my life has changed. It also brought me back to a conversation I recently had on social media.

I live a hetero normative life, yet I do not identify as heterosexual. Outside looking in, I am presumed straight. I have to fight for acknowledgment as a member of the LGBT+ community instead of being relegated to “ally”. My sexuality is fluid and I haven’t identified as straight since I graduated high school. I have had girlfriends, boyfriends, a wife, and now a husband. I am attracted to men, women, and trans-gendered individuals.

As I sat in that bakery this morning, so much was clear to me. One thing was that I am incredibly happy in the relationship I am in right now. I love my husband, and am incredibly loved by him. I love our children, and what we have worked so hard to build. I love how far we’ve come, and while we’ve not always had it easy, it has been worth it.

As I looked at the man who I’d once known I realized that we’d both lived entire lifetimes since we knew each other. I could have said hi, and said “I knew you when”, but really…while a moment of connection would have been nice, it was great just to see the light in his eyes when he looked at the woman he was with. The strength and confidence he carried himself with. Which lead me to wonder, do people see that in me? Do they see the love I receive when I move through the world, and if not, what do I need to do to make sure it shows?

I kissed my daughter and looked at my husband as the boys and puppy appeared near the door. I felt calm. There is so much chaos in our world, and I embraced that years ago. I thrive in chaos, and show up as my best self when I feel useful. I am learning to allow the peace to permeate my soul. I am growing.

 

You’ve got to stand for something…

…or you’ll fall for anything.

I don’t know where the original quote is from, and I’m feeling Google-lazy in this moment. I’m actually hearing the country song by Aaron Tippin play in my head. Oh how I thought he was amazing when I was young. I think I actually fangirled pretty hard when I met him. Youth…I miss it.

I was asked recently where I am showing up small in my life. I found it easier to answer where I am fully showing up. One of the areas I certainly show up small is in my writing. I am so afraid of offending anyone (and I realize there are many people on the internet who LIVE to express that they have been offended) that I don’t express myself. I recognize that I am not for everyone…and I actually like that because it means I’m authentic. Having typed all of that, I still haven’t found my niche in the world when it comes to giving/helping, which is something I am sensitive about.

At any rate, last week I attended the preview of the video they will be showing my son for his “Family Life” unit at school. There is no actual sex ed involved, but I went to the preview to make sure there were no negative statements made about masturbation or LGBTIQA identity. The video itself was almost 11 minutes long, and even with out any specific sex education, they still found a way to make a hetero-normative statement. After the preview, the teachers opened up the room for questions, and I bit my tongue. All I could think was “How many kids in the 5th grade and this school will see this and take it as a knock against who they are? Will they offer ANY education about LGBTIQA at all? What am I risking by bringing this up? Is it even relevant if the parents would kvetch anyway? Do I want to fight this right now?”

I did not. I did not say anything, and in my silence, I feel ashamed. I *did* have a conversation with my son when we left where I discussed that the video was all stuff he already knew (proper anatomical names, changes he’ll go through, etc) as well as the line that was hetero-normative. My son has two moms, a known donor/Papa, a step dad, and his mommy’s girlfriend. He has heard the term hetero-normative before, and he has been told all his life that it is perfectly fine if he has a boyfriend, a girlfriend, both, or neither. A few months ago we read the book George (if you have a late elementary/early middle school child, I cannot recommend this book highly enough, or even as an adult) and discussed what it means to identify as transgender. We discuss this stuff in our home because it is important.

When I was given the opportunity to discuss it in public I froze. I wasn’t in front of my kids and I choked. I was in a room with people I knew would disagree, and I didn’t feel like fighting. I say that because I recognize it, not to excuse my silence. In our home and in our lives as a family, we bring up real issues. We talk about race, privilege, socio-economics, sexual and gender identity, intersectionality, kindness, love, and compassion. We have to talk about these things if we want to change the world. As a mom, I believe parenting is Guerrilla Warfare on society. I change the world by putting conscious, compassionate, and contributing individuals in to it. Last week, I failed my own mission.

I can accept it, because I can learn from it. I can examine it and adjust. Like a sailor who has found themselves off course, I can realign myself to ensure arrival at my destination. I cannot have that moment back, and that makes me feel a little sad. As David Gibson says, “Daily gradual growth”, and that is what I’m committed to. So, here is to standing up, taking up some more space, and expanding my “offense” field. I will not apologize for who I am anymore, or for my beliefs, though I will say that I am 100% open to learning and hearing other opinions/beliefs/ways. I will not even say “no offense, but…” and have taught my children not to do so either.

When I express something, if it makes you want to talk, know that my “door” is open to respectful discourse. I welcome conversation. Comment, email me, engage with me. I will not tolerate disrespect, to me, my children, or of any one else, so make sure to keep any comments/emails on the up and up.