Posts Tagged ‘partner’

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Real Furniture

March 22, 2008

When I separated from my (now) ex-wife, I tried to take as little as possible with me.  I needed to make sure that the kids had everything that they needed, and I wanted them to feel some consistency, even-though Dad was not living there anymore.  I took my digital piano, the stereo components, my weights and weight bench, and my clothes.  That meant that everything else I had to buy or scrounge.  I was a regular at yard sales, Goodwill, and my parents’ basement and attic. 

I started with a “love seat” that looked like it came out of the waiting room of a doctor’s office in the 1960’s.  It was somewhat Danish Modern and upholstered in a brown vinyl.  It wasn’t comfortable.  My coffee table was from Goodwill and looked like it had been handmade by someone who failed wood-shop in high school.  I painted it white.  It helped, if only a little.  I found an old tv with very little red left in it at my parents’ house.  They also gave me an old chest of drawers. 

Starting over, the best piece of furniture I purchased was the bed. (Read that again, this time with dripping sarcasm.)  It was a twin size air mattress that needed inflated every night before I cried myself to sleep.  Bedtime is not exactly the time one needs to be reminded that their life just fell apart and the future isn’t looking good.  So for that first month of being on my own, I had a constant reminder that perhaps, I had screwed up in a major way.  Sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of my crappy apartment was the nightly jab that would get my mind rolling with doubt. 

It wasn’t long before I was able to find a full bed frame with a mattress and box springs.  The price was just right:  free!  One of my co-workers at school had recently purchased a new bed for her daughter and offered me the old one.  All I had to do was find a way to transport it to my place.  I jumped at the chance to have a real bed.  It has served me well these past few years, although, I did find it necessary to replace the mattress with something more comfortable.  The replacement was a hand-me-down too.

My partner moved in with me six months after I rented the apartment.  We slowly found better furnishings, either as donations from sympathetic relatives, or flea market finds, or even roadkill.  Gnawing persistently at my brain was the thought that we’d never be able to select the style and quality of furniture ourselves; we’d be held captive to the dated styles of others.  They would cast off their bad taste, and we would grab it, proclaiming it to be “not that bad.”

Life did improve.  We were able to purchase a house in 2007.  We moved all our shabby chic pieces into this shabby chic shack.  After we discovered that we could actually afford to live here, I felt the need to have “real furniture.”  I wanted to pick it out, at the store, maybe even have it delivered.  I wanted to look at a couch and say “no, I don’t like the fabric” or “do you have something a bit more masculine?” 

It’s finally happening.  We purchased a sofa back in November.  It’s big, it’s well-stuffed, and it’s a vision of chocolate micro-suede.  I love the big pillows that came with it, as well as the opportunity to pay for it on credit. 

We had seen some beds at Levin Furniture back in November.  We had even returned to the clearance center to purchase a greatly reduced bedroom suite.  As we entered the store, I told myself that if it was still there, it was meant to be.  It had sold a few days before, but I looked at it as being a sign that I needed to wait.  I’m glad I did.  Purchasing an entire set of furniture is not what we needed to do.  The cost of the bed and the mattress set would be about all we could afford. 

Today, we returned to the store because we had seen a television ad offering no interest for 5 years.  We knew that purchasing the bed and mattress set would meet the minimum dollar amount required for the deal.  Sadly, none of the beds on the second floor showroom appealed to us.  I kept thinking “where are all the great beds we saw a few months ago?”  We decided to look in the clearance center, which is just across the street.  As we were about to exit the retail store, we noticed a mission style bed in the window.  We took a quick look before heading across Main street.  I kept looking at the bed in the window.  There was nothing appealing in the clearance center, although we thought the deals on the mattress sets were good.  We wrote down a product number, thinking we could buy the bed in the main store, and the mattress from the clearance center.  Our salesman offered to cut the price of the mattress to approximate the clearance center price, pointing out that we would then benefit from a 10 year guarantee. 

We bought the bed!  We pick it up on Wednesday.  It’s a beautiful Mission Oak style that will work nicely with either a rustic cottage theme, or a clean, organic Japanese environment. Now, we’ll be needing a new set of sheets and of course, a bed spread that will fit a queen size bed.  Now who has a queen bed and might have some old sheets they want to give away?

the bed

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My Visit to my State Representative’s Office

March 1, 2008

Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are about to become protected by law in the state of Pennsylvania.  HB1400 is a bill intended to amend our current Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to prohibit discrimination of these minorities, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog.  I fall into one of those minorities since I am a gay man, but I suppose I could claim another group that has been the target of discrimination.  I do have Irish ancestry, after all. 

So I got my Irish up, (oops, is that perpetuating the stereotype of the Irish being quick to anger?) and made an appointment to visit my State Representative, Deberah Kula, to ask her to support this amendment to the existing PHRA.  I was prepared.  I had my talking points printed up.  I did more research on those points that were provided to me by Equality Advocates PA.  I walked into her office with my head held high, ready to engage in some lively conversation. 

I barely got through the greetings and small talk, when I realized this was not going to be a problem.  When I mentioned the particular bill and its purpose, she replied with “not a problem.”  She indicated to me that everyone should have access to housing and employment.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get to demonstrate my knowledge of the statistics, but I was happy to have a common entry point for the conversation that followed. 

I brought up the bill that has been introduced into our state senate, that would amend our state constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman.  It was at this point that the conversation became more intense.  Rep. Kula explained to me that she just could not see this amendment passing.  It is difficult to amend the state constitution, and this just did not seem like a bill that could pass, in her opinion.  A quick search for a copy of the state constitution, followed by a swift perusal of same, leads me to believe that the last amendment to this document was in 1978.  It is encouraging that Pennsylvania has not seen fit to alter this constitution in the past 30 years.  I would also add here how much I appreciate her willingness to discuss this “Marriage Protection Amendment” when, as a representative, this bill has not been introduced in the House. 

Our conversation continued, and Rep. Kula stated that she would be honest with me, that her personal convictions did not allow her to support same-sex marriages.  I smiled and thanked her for being upfront with me, and decided to dive in and explore those convictions.  She told me that her religious beliefs just did not permit her to support us in acquiring the right to marry.  I countered with my own, rather strong religious beliefs.  I explained how I struggled to reconcile my faith with my orientation, as I was coming out.  Then I engaged her in a discussion of how a person comes to be gay or lesbian.  We talked about genetics, environment, and the complex interaction of both that medical science and psychological research believes to be responsible for sexual orientation.  I talked about choice, and how, knowing that discrimination and violence is a real possibility for gays and lesbians, no one would willingly choose to be homosexual.  Then I asked the question, somewhat rhetorically, “knowing that this isn’t a choice, what is the appropriate behavior for committed, loving, same-sex couples?”  Of course, I went on to answer my own question by stating that it is in the best interest of society that individuals pair up to care for each other so as not to be a burden on extended family or the government.  I spoke of health care, inheritance benefits, as well as hospital visitation, all of which are granted to straight couples within a few minutes at the local courthouse, yet denied to gay and lesbian couples.  My desire to care for my partner, and his wishes to care for me, as any married couple would and should, was also mentioned. 

At one point, she tried to explain her position, and found herself in a spot where she did not want to be.  Rep. Kula started to speak of natural inclinations, like mass murder.  She caught herself, and said, “and I don’t mean to compare you to mass murderers, perhaps I could have found a better comparison.”  To which I replied with a laugh “good, I was going to have to go after you on that one.”

One final, somewhat melancholy exchange came when Rep. Kula told me that she didn’t know how she would vote for such an amendment if she were forced to do so tomorrow.  She said that she would have a difficult time deciding, but most likely would vote against same-sex marriage.  She apologized to me, saying that she knew it was not what I wanted to hear.  I was gracious, replied politely, and again thanked her for her honesty.  I genuinely valued her candor, as I felt no malicious intent from her.  I believe she holds her convictions because of misinformation, a lack of understanding about what it means to be gay or lesbian in our society. 

As I got up to leave, we shook hands and looked intently at each other.  It was at that point she said  “beautiful blue eyes.”  Perhaps I made the connection that I was attempting.  Something that I said at some point in that half hour may have stayed with her, and caused her to think.  I was pleased that I was able to leave her without experiencing “violence of the fist, the tongue, or the heart” as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught.