Bad News/Good News

Hello, dear readers! I apologize for the late blog this week – the holiday at the beginning of the week threw me off a bit, and also I overslept this morning. Whoops.

Y’all, it’s been a WEEK. Last week’s blog happened right before things started getting exciting. There is bad news, and then there is good news.

So, first, the bad news.

My partner got a call Thursday morning from the museum where they’ve worked since we moved to Chicago almost eight years ago, with unfortunate news – they were laid off (they helped manage the team that handled field trips and tour groups coming to the museum, so not too surprising, but still).

This, of course, was sad and anxiety-inducing. Thankfully, with my new job, we’re still going to be in a reasonably-okay financial spot for the time being, but health insurance is a major concern (particularly during a pandemic). So, I pretty immediately emailed the HR team at my work and asked what we’d need to do to get them onto my health insurance.

HR got back to me pretty quickly with the list of “Qualifying Life Events” that allow a person to change their health insurance plans mid-year. I didn’t see any information regarding a domestic partner losing their insurance, though, so I emailed back to clarify. They replied with a question: “Do you have any legal documentation of your domestic partnership?”

I turned to my partner, and said, “So…it looks like we should maybe get married?”

Which, if you hadn’t figured out where this was going, brings us to the good news.

After nearly 10 years together, we’re getting married!

We’d talked about it off and on over the years but never felt like we needed to do it – when we started dating, gay marriage hadn’t been legalized yet, so we didn’t even have the option…it was never part of the framework of how we thought of our relationship. I had my own internal resistance to it, too – I felt like it might be the only way to make some of my family members see my relationship as “legitimate,” and that annoyed me. I didn’t want to do it for them. But we’re at the point where we really do want to do this for us. We’re both committed to making this work, and it’s going to make the legal bullshit so much more straightforward…it’s a win-win all around.

So here we are, unexpectedly planning a wedding in the middle of a pandemic. I can’t say I ever had super clear dreams about what getting married would look like, but I definitely never pictured it would be just us on our couch in front of a computer!

I hope you’re all staying safe and that our happy news can bring some light to what are definitely weird and frequently dark days. Keep hanging in there, friends.

Thinking of Spring

We have once again reached that delightful time of year when I am frequently overcome by the beauty of nature (read: watery-eyed, sniffly, exhausted, and allergic to every blessed thing outdoors). As obnoxious as spring allergies are, though, I am thoroughly enjoying the warmer (but not-too-warm) weather, the sunlight we’ve had so far, the longer daylight hours…perhaps it’s just a function of the enthusiastic reproductive efforts of the local flora (and fauna, I suppose), but there seems to be a renewed sense of vitality after the drabness of winter.

I am finally getting around to dealing with some personal things that I have been avoiding for several months. I haven’t had a huge increase in energy, but some things that seem impossible during the grey and dreary times of year become possible when the sun and the green start to come through again.

This weekend, we have a friend coming to visit us from Minnesota. They are one of those friends whose company we don’t get to enjoy often enough, one of those rare souls who leaves me feeling emptied, renewed, and refueled after contact. The weekend promises to be intense and exhausting in some of the best ways, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

I’ve been thinking about relationships lately, and the defining characteristics of the various relationships I’m in with people, from my partner to my friends to my family. This season of renewal and rebirth has me contemplating a sort of social spring cleaning – not necessarily cutting people out of my life completely, but working on strengthening healthy boundaries when dealing with dysfunction, and taking stock of where I am most supported and most relied-on for support, so that I can balance the two. I think I spend too much time wondering how in the world to make new friends, and not enough time cultivating the friendships I already have.

I guess changes in weather bring out my contemplative side. There’s a lot of planning going on, and some big things coming down the pike this summer. It seems it is time to come out of hibernation so that I can enjoy the relative calm before life picks up again. If only I could do it without sniffling…

This Week in a Five-Item List

On Monday, we laid Grandma to rest after a service that paid great tribute to her life and character. The surrounding circumstances have left me feeling uncreative and exhausted, but make for some decent stories, so that’s what I’m going to tell you about for this week’s installment of the blog.

  1. Finding reasonably priced flights at the last for Mother’s Day weekend leaves you with few options. The only real option there was, in the end, was Spirit Airlines, which still felt exorbitant for a flight lasting just over an hour and thirty minutes, but was reasonable enough that my dad was willing to fund the trip not only for me, but also for my partner, who graciously agreed to take unpaid time off work and come with me for moral support.
  2. Spirit Airlines is…interesting. We’d flown Spirit before, but this was a flight to remember. While we waited at the gate, we were entertained by a couple of year-old babies who were becoming fast friends, their interactions narrated by the boisterous grandmother of the smaller-but-older child of the pair. Once we were on the flight, we found ourselves behind a couple of men who appeared religious and looked like they’d fit right in on the youth ministry team of an evangelical megachurch somewhere (one of them was reading a slim volume entitled Jesus Christ: The Real Story)…and who also appeared to be completely stoned out of their brains. The one who wasn’t reading was extremely chatty and spent the entire flight talking with the Russian woman across the aisle. At the end of the flight, he tried to tell my partner and I that we should stay on the plane and continue on to Vegas, which prompted the following exchange:

    Me: This isn’t that kind of trip.
    Him: Why not?
    Me: Grandma’s funeral.
    Him: Oh, man, I didn’t know that. That sucks…You should smoke some weed!

  3. I have really wonderful family with whom I share no actually biological ties. My dad is an only child, but he’s known his two best friends since kindergarten and junior high, respectively, and I think I was well into my teens before I realized my Uncles weren’t actually related to me in any way. As we gathered to remember Grandma, I was struck by how wonderful it is to know that the chosen family members I was handed as a child have truly chosen me as an adult.
  4. The trip home was…an adventure. We were supposed to fly out of Minneapolis at around 6:30 Monday evening. Our flight was delayed five times (I’m not even exaggerating when I say that) before ultimately being canceled. Not wanting to deal with the airline any longer, we decided to get the tickets refunded and rent a car to drive back to Chicago instead. We slept a few hours at my partner’s parents’ house before heading out just after 3am, which mostly meant that Monday felt like the longest day ever and I think we skipped Tuesday entirely. When we finally stumbled into our apartment, we literally kissed the door frame, we were so happy to be home.
  5. I have the world’s best support system. From a partner who was willing to travel with me at the last minute, giving up paid days at work to be my moral support, to the friends who were willing to be our transport to and from the airport at all sorts of hours, this whole trip really drove home the fact that I have been blessed with a strong, unbelievably wonderful network of support. If I had needed to make that trip home by myself, I don’t know what I would have done. Probably cried and screamed and possibly done someone bodily harm. As it was, I had my partner with me, who remained calm (cheerful, even) for the entire airport experience, and who was loopy and exhausted with me all the way home. I’m one seriously lucky human.