You know what bugs me? Well, if you've been reading my blog or twitter, or have ever met me, you know a lot of things bug me. But that's not the point... not today anyway.
I won't talk now about what bugs me (I'll tell ya later), but I'll tell you what doesn't bug me. Couples who are truly, stupidly in love.
I don't know what's been up with me lately, but it seems everywhere I'm seeing couples who really love each other, which, for me, is a stark contrast to the usual "Can't stand him but what can you do?" I hear from women I happen to see everyday. And nothing... well almost nothing... makes me happier than seeing two people (or more, hey I'm open minded!) genuinely crazy about each other.
I have to say, for all their faults, the one thing my parents taught me is that love is possible. They're together still... my mom's first marriage and my father's second. Thirty-four years of two very different people with almost a decade's age difference and still they kiss each other hello and good bye like they mean it. I'm not saying my parents make out in front of me (ew), but their quick kisses are sweet and more than just routine. And that's a good thing. On paper, these two have almost nothing in common other than geographic proximity, but somewhere in each other, they found that connection that kept them going through some hard times.
As I passed through my teen years, I grew more and more convinced I was not capable of that kind of connection. I thought there was something wrong with me. I went to university and dated a bunch of guys -- really lovely guys most of whom are still friends of mine. And still, no real connection. Three years into university, I decided to stop dating altogether. It wasn't working and was a total waste of my time. I threw myself into other things, but gradually my life began to fall apart.
Today isn't the day for my coming out story, but suffice it to say that when I stopped dating men, other things started to become clear... far beneath the surface, and caused several serious crises for me.
The long and short of it is that became very depressed, and then I figured it all out. But in figuring it out, I never replaced my conviction that I wasn't capable of a real connection with anyone. It's as if I simply transfered the idea that I couldn't have a real connection with a man to women. I just started sleeping with girls, with no real expectation that I could achieve true love.
I moved to England, where my coming out process really took shape. Away from family and expectations, I "found myself" in a very non-ironic way. I met some amazing people and was very humbled to be able to call them friends. All of them totally accepted me for who I am. I dated off and on, but for two years, I was pretty much celibate.
After two years, immigration issues caused another move, this time to Ireland. Not far from my new English friends and far enough from my family who were still struggling with accepting my sexuality.
A few months after I moved to Ireland, I met a guy who got me "back on the horse" so to speak. He forced me to talk to some women at the George (THE Dublin gay bar at the time). On the back of that, I met the woman who in 2005, I married. (Thanks Mike.)
She said it was love at first sight... for me it took a bit longer. I guess I didn't believe I'd find love and she was not what I was expecting either. Love totally took me by surprise, but before I knew it, was ready to say, "I love you" and the word "forever" rolled off my tongue... and felt perfectly right.
So seven years on, I've settled into a sweet domesticity. Coming home from work is still exciting. I'm always delighted to see her and to just be in her presence, even if we're both busy with other stuff. I'm really lucky and I know it. I found that connection I never thought I'd have.
So, what brings me to all this right now? Why after four years of marital bliss and the three preceding non-marital blissful years do I find myself thinking on the nature of coupledom and true love?
You can blame most of it on YouTube.
Enter Portia deRossi and Ellen Degeneres. While I'm not a fangirl of either, I'm crazy about the two of them together. Warning: This video will induce happy sighs.
Ellen and Portia have that magic... you can see when Portia is talking that Ellen is simply enthralled. It's all over their faces.
Then there was this, which I hadn't seen when it first aired. It's the video of the Obamas dancing at the Inagural Ball.
Two things about that video.
One: The Obamas have such undeniable chemistry. They're both attractive, intelligent and they dance and laugh as though there's no one else there, never mind the whole world is watching. They look grateful to be in each other's arms. This is a couple who knows they're lucky to have found each other.
Two: You'll hear Rachel Maddow as the sole female voice in the commentary. There are a couple notable quotes from her: "How much of a trial can it be to dance with your beloved?" and "That careful, sweet turn? It's not getting old."
I'd be remiss if I didn't point to Rachel herself and her girlfriend, Susan Mikula as another example of a truly fairytale type love.
From an article in Newsweek from December 2008:
She says their relationship "is the thing about which I am most proud and most protective. And if it made sense for my relationship with Susan that I needed to stop being on TV, and stop being on the radio, and go live full time in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and raise chickens, we'd go live in the Upper Peninsula and raise chickens. It's the single clearest thing in my life."
Bingo. This is that thing of which I speak. Why settle for anything less than the relationship that makes you feel like that?
Ok, getting to the point (because I do have one).
What is the point of me showing you all these incredibly happy couples? What is the reason I decided to rant about how lucky I am to be in love?
Because one of the things I have learned from being in love is that love recognises love and wants there to be more of it.
Since falling in love, I am a far softer version of myself. I see those around me differently. I see people knowing that someone loves them. That in someone's eyes, that person is perfection, home and the whole world.
That worldview shift is massive. And I can see it in the couples I've mentioned and so many others. Unlike lotto wins, or fame and fortune, love is one of those amazing things that is quite everyday and quite within the reach of everyone. Love is naturally egalitarian. Love doesn't understand the boundaries that humans create. Love doesn't recognise race or ethnicity or age or beauty or IQ. And most of all, it doesn't recognise gender.
Yes, this is my point. For those people who really understand how lucky they are to have found true love, the question of same sex marriage has to be a no brainer. We are all invariably improved by our experiences of being in love, and being loved.
To attempt to limit the recognition and encouragement of this experience for a minority group is a hateful, useless and destructive path that I can only imagine is endorsed by people who have such a limited experience and understanding of love that they do not know the massive impact it can have on individuals and then, as follows, on society at large.
Seriously. Love is incapable of hurting us, and is infinitely more capable of improving us than any other force we know.