JD and I didn't quite know what to expect, on one hand we knew that our spirits were high, and we expected Bev's to be as well—after all, today marked a major victory in the forty-four year battle towards equality—but on the other hand, we both knew that Steve had just lost his father and was not really up for socializing yet. Bev had forced his hand a bit in coming to Dallas in the first place, and he had, unbeknownst to us, requested that dinner be kept to a minimal amount of people. In fact, he had just wanted Bev, whom he adores, and JD and me. So there we were, walking into lavishing zen space. JD, being too tall, was ducking to avoid the slender, vibrantly green bamboo that was defiantly rustling in the stifling Texas heat. The crunch of our flip-flops on the meticulously cared-for gravel rock garden. We actually haven't had a moment to speak during the day. Earlier we had been glued to our iPads, laptops, TV, twitter feeds, SCOTUS blogs, and every other social media outlet that you could imagine, all whilst trying to be productive at our respective jobs and fight back hot, wet, sticky tears that welled up unbidden as the waves of emotion crashed over us both. At one point I had to excuse myself upstairs to the office, of course I muttered something about having to get some work done, but it was really to hide the fact that I was barely in control. It had all seemed so distant—so…academic until then. Suddenly, there was a real chance. An honest to god, real chance of not only being able to marry, but of it being in my lifetime, and in Texas! Obviously there was still a fight, but it was suddenly tangible, and I was overwhelmed. So I grabbed his arm and waited for him to look me in the eyes as I stood quietly in a rock garden, guarded by defiant bamboo in the Texas heat. I paused, very aware of the now, kissed him and told him how much I loved him.
Dinner was a blur of office gossip and catching up. Poor JD was subjected to a litany of names he didn't know, products he didn't care about, drama he wasn't invested in, but, as usual, he was magnificent. Steve warmed throughout the night, truly happy for us, his pain palpable but salved by company and conversation. Life does that I've noticed. The desire to be alone and lick your wounds; it seems like a good idea, but the real, lasting cure, is exactly opposite of what you want to do. After the first Sapporo Bev started talking about her wife and their life together, about their redneck friend that comes over and grills them grouper "cause at the end of the day…lesbians are okay." Laughter and smiles infused everything. I had my coffee. Then it started. My phone wouldn't stop blowing up. Everyone was asking if I was going down to the strip. Wednesdays are almost never a real going out night. It's the hardcore alkies and service industry folk out, the random out of towner or the guy just "had a rough day." I do mean everyone too, the most random assortment of people texting. I pause the conversation at the table and present what's going on, also throwing out that we could swing by Sue Ellen's since Bev's with us (and we NEVER go there). Steve immediately gets the RCA dog look on his face. Sue Ellen's? The rest of us look at him…JR's, Sue Ellen's? What town are you in? The cliched ton of bricks hits him. At that point it's a done deal, we're headed to the gayborhood.
You may or may not know this but I have a convertible. I bought it on my lunch break one day at work when I worked at Texas Instruments. I'm typically not rash about large purchases, but sometimes, just sometimes, you need to make a statement. I'm still not sure what I was trying to say the day I bought it, but it got said! But having a convertible last night allowed us to experience something that I never really thought happened in real life, but only in film. You know that effect on the screen where the cinematographer slows the action and there is slight tunneling effect, where, on the screen the world is moving in slow motion usually focussed on some unnaturally pretty person doing something ridiculous like holding a sparkler on the beach or running through the woods or some nonsense like that? In real life, the world is clearly moving normally, but your brain is processing so quickly that it appears as if world is almost standing still—stupid pretty people and sparklers and everything. If it weren't so cool I would have been annoyed. We turned onto Cedar Springs and it was evident immediately this was not an ordinary night. Cue the special effects…the street was packed and possibly for the first time that I recall, it wasn't drunken stupidness, it was genuine, tear-laden, joy. People were dancing, hugging, jumping, and embracing. There were LED signs spelling out EQUALITY, LOVE, 6-26-2013, and all sorts of slogans. The Matthew Shepard memorial was surrounded and I thought about what difference fifteen years makes. He was born the same year I was. We kept driving and everywhere we looked we saw people we knew, people that almost never came to the strip, people that usually don't smile. We got caught at a red light and people were swarming around us. Have you ever been engulfed in happiness? I can now say that I have. It's humbling to say the least. There were impromptu church services celebrating our victory on the street and, we found out later, at one of the bars! Churches! Celebrating FOR us! My years of animosity melted instantly.
We finally got to Sue Ellen's and waited for Steve and Bev to park and join us. The night of office gossip was now mostly abandoned, replaced with a steady stream of people that JD and I knew finding us, hugging us, sometimes with a lot to say, sometimes with the inability to say much but the remnants of tears speaking for them. To say last night was a celebration is an insult. There was no planning here, no organization, nothing so paltry or petty as mere celebration. Last night was a manifestation of pure zeitgeist.