I am in love with my wife. I love her, and am also in love with her, and those are two very separate things, a difference you'll understand if you've ever been there. We met, we courted, we fell for each other, and it was like throwing the parachute out of the plane and jumping out after it. We caught it, and landed softly in a wedding ceremony an October and a half ago under the blazing canopy of New Hampshire in Autumn, and every day since has filled me to bursting.
I take my ring off every once in a while, hold it in my palm, and look at it. It is a perfect circle, seamless, with neither beginning nor end. So it is with my love for my wife, and her love for me. At my disposal are all the words that are or have ever been, and still I stand wordstruck before the simple task of explaining how I feel about her, and us. It is too much. I am undone before the tremendous fact of my love for her.
She is my last love, but she is not my first.
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There was a girl in high school, who I had dreamed of for far and ever before we finally found each other. I was eighteen, a head-bursting incoherent eighteen, and in that other October (the 14th, to be exact) we were brave enough to kiss in her bedroom one night when her parents were away. She was my first love, and to this day I remember the lines of her face to the decimal. Her smile could undo mountains, and she laughed quite exactly like music. Were I to live a thousand lifetimes, I would never, ever forget her.
There was a girl in college who was a vast, beautiful mystery. She was wounded when I met her, just as I was, and we were well met in the silence between us, because we knew, we understood, and we relished the shared peace between those unspoken words. She was cursed with wisdom far beyond her years, and that knowledge walked with her always. She was voluptuous in silence, an enigma, exhausting, and altogether lovely.
There was a girl in San Francisco, sharp as a blade and beautiful beyond explanation. She was the world exploding, made entirely of rage and passion and blunt force, soft in her way, and entirely unforgiving. She had the worst poker face in all of human history, and was helpless to avoid letting the world know her thoughts, because she wore them on her sleeve and on her unutterably beautiful face. Her presence bent the very light.
And there is Cailen, song of songs, my love, my wife. I defy the whole world to find eyes of a more glorious blue than hers. Her hair, her face, her way…oh, I could sing her song from here to the end of the world, but sufficed to say, she is my beloved. She is my breath. I am, because she is.
It is my privilege to tell these stories in the broad light of day, and that privilege has everything to do with gender. Were I to spin similar tales of my love for Mike instead of Michele, Larry instead of Laura, Carl instead of Cara, or Chris instead of Cailen, I might get my ass kicked for my trouble. But I'm lucky. I am a man attracted to women. Thus, I am spared from Biblical damnation.
For lo, it doth saith in Leviticus 18:22 that “You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” This is the same Book that saith, and I quote Exodus 35:2, “Six days you shall do work: the seventh day shall be holy unto you, the Sabbath and the rest of the Lord: he that shall do any work on it shall be put to death.”
I live and die six months a year by the NFL calendar, being the sinner that I am, and it seems Tom Brady and the rest of the New England Patriots – along with every other NFL player, coach, broadcaster, stadium vendor and parking lot attendant – need a good stoning to show them what's what. The same, according to said Book, goes for anyone who plants different crops side by side or wears clothing made from two different threads. Slavery is fine, as is the total subjugation of women, but God help you (literally) if you plant your beans next to your tomatoes on a Sunday afternoon.
As best as I can fathom, therefore, the Bible is for the most part a nest of savage, cruel gibberish with a few nuggets of genuine wisdom salted throughout. It is hardly the best basis for the establishment of a code of social conduct, and yet here we sit, eleven years into the 21st century, telling good and decent people they cannot love, they cannot marry, because Leviticus says so.
Well, maybe not. For the first time, a majority of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage, which may simply be another way of saying they don't give a damn one way or the other. The turgid culture war issues of the last few decades don't appear to be high on most people's priority list anymore, now that wars and unemployment and economic calamity have crowded them out. Jim Daly, president of the holy-rolling Focus on the Family, recently said the fight over same-sex marriage is all but over, and his side did not prevail.
My home state of Massachusetts enjoys the honor, thanks to the 2004 ruling in Goodridge v. The Department of Health, of being the first state in this union to legalize same-sex marriage. In Cambridge, just across the river, they lined up around the block at City Hall to make the oath and take the plunge. There were so many smiles, so many hugs, so many tears of pure joy on that day. It was magical, and far overdue.
They love each other, you see, and that is all that matters. I think there is something about love in that Book, too.