I was by myself and listening to music so I was just able to watch people walk around me. For the most part there were a lot of groups or at least couples participating. It was a big mix of age and race and orientation. I saw some of the most fantastic tattoos and outfits. It was a pleasant day, the walk wasn't that long and the party before hand was very warm and inviting. Even being by myself I didn't feel out of place. Well, that much anyway. The mac-n-cheese BLT went a long way toward making me feel better.
Despite the reason for the event, despite the need to raise money and consciousness about a disease that destroys lives, the folks at the park were full of life and happy to see each other. It felt like a family reunion. So many people knew each other from past walks. You could tell that they knew each other outside of this event as well. They would meet later. I can't believe it's only been a week. Call me when you're back home. People had come in from all over the country. I overheard a couple from New York talking about how nice the weather was here. The main speaker was from San Francisco. Dozens of people up from Houston. It was friendly and it felt safe.
It felt right being there.
Last week while at a local bar participating in trivia and karaoke, I met a couple new people. One guy sat and talked with me for a while after the trivia ended. He was with a group but they left; he was waiting to meet up with his boyfriend later. During trivia they were giving me a hard time because I was beating them. They kept saying I should join their team so we'd all win bar money. It was good playful banter.
So after a while of making small talk with this guy, I realized that I can't make small talk without telling someone the last 15 years of my life. It's really awkward for people I'm sure, but I just seem to figure out how to talk about my family without giving an intricate blow-by-blow of at least the last decade. And, I mean, it comes up. You meet a new person, they aren't a pyscho, you seem to hit it off and you want to get to know them. You ask questions like, "How old are you?" "Do you have any kids?" "Are you married?" "What do you do for a living?" Basic questions. Most of those lead to me explaining what I was doing in 1996 and how it led to me being in this bar on a Thursday.
This guy was pretty stunned. Most people are. But he asked something no one has yet. When I told him about how I knew Cheryl was gay before we got married he asked, "Why did you do that? Why did you set yourself up to fail?" It was my turned to be stunned. I really didn't have a good answer. I fumbled about a bit saying things about the timing being right, her having previous relationships with guys, us having a connection neither could explain, etc. etc. But I couldn't shake the fact that despite how seemingly good our weird little family dynamic seems to work, someone went all the way back to the beginning to ask why I would even go down that path.
Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets. (Well, maybe a couple, but not in regards to this.) Even in light of the events of the past couple months, I wouldn't consider the last 15 years a failure. There have been hardships and heartaches, but there have been moments of real happiness. The kind of happiness that makes you focus on the moment and become hyper aware of your surroundings so you can use that memory later. What happened recently was devastating to me, but that doesn't change what happened the four previous years. There were times when I was so happy, so in love with life in general that I didn't think it was possible. I thought it was a joke. That kind of joy can be found again. That kind of warmth and happiness is always just around the corner. All you have to do is be open and willing to see it, even if it's small amounts.
Those people at the march had it despite the losses they may have had. My family has it despite dealing with the day to day tragedies. To me there's no setting yourself up for failure, there's taking a chance. Sometimes those chances pay off.
at 9:25 AM