Thursday, April 24, 2008

Twenty-five Years

Yesterday marked twenty-five years that Ron and I have known each other. We think of it as our anniversary, although we have a different set of milestones, perhaps, than other couples. We met in one of the apartment houses on Cleveland Ave, NW in Washington, DC, in front of the elevator on our way to a potluck dinner. Ron was facilitator for a group called Washington Area Gay and Lesbian Scientists. The group was having its monthly potluck. He was looking for a scientist, and I was looking for one, too. I guess it was fate.

I impressed him that first meeting. I think he liked the way I smoked my cigarettes. Or maybe it was the hayseed on my lapel. I'm not sure which. At any rate, when the potluck broke up, Ron, in his best facilitating way, was going around thanking the guys for coming. When he got to me, I asked him if he liked to dance, and he said yes. I asked him if he'd like to go out, and he said, "When?" I said, "Right now." He agreed, and we went to the Fraternity House on our first date. It really was a date; we didn't have sex until the following week, so maybe we should celebrate our twenty-fifth next week.

Or maybe we should celebrate our twenty-fifth next year on June 1, the date we moved in together, or maybe a couple of weeks earlier when we signed our living together agreement. Gay couples have a difficult time figuring out exactly when and what to commemorate, so we've stuck with the initial meeting - a night at a gay bar discovering that we had absolutely nothing in common, and deciding over the next several months, that that was quite enough with which to fashion a relationship.

Early in 1984, Ron was notified that his apartment building in Arlington, VA was being converted to a condominium. He didn't particularly want to own a place, so he proposed that we live together. I told him that if we did, we needed a living together agreement, and he was amenable to that. I read what I could about such documents, and had some difficulty with it, because I didn't know how permanent we wanted to make it. After all, we didn't know any couples that had been together for a long time, so we set our time horizon for five years, figuring that it probably wouldn't last that long, but what the heck.

When we moved in together in 1984, we stayed in that apartment in Silver Spring for five years and a month. Because of circumstances in the apartment building, we decided that we had to move, and did so in July 1989. At that point, we decided that we could extend our relationship horizon to ten or fifteen years, and bought a townhouse in Wheaton. Well, it's been downhill ever since, and now it's been twenty-five years, and it doesn't seem like that at all. I clearly remember our fifteenth anniversary celebration. We certainly talked about something for twenty five, but that will probably have to wait for fifty. Time is whizzing by at about the same pace that my nose and ear hairs are growing.

As time has gone by, we've taken opportunities to protect legally our relationship. It's difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to do. At this point, I think we're in it for the duration of our natural lives. And I'm just fine with that. I love Ron dearly and am deeply grateful that we have a life together.