Finding Gratitude

I wrote this post many months ago - back in August of last year. But for a variety of reasons, I got shy about posting it. This week, after reading about North Carolina and listening to Obama's speech, I pulled it out again. So here it is. 

Navah and I got engaged last April. We looked around at a few venues, talked about our visions for the ceremony; then life got crazy, and we put the planning on hold for a bit.  When we finally started taking steps towards actually making choices, I got completely overwhelmed. Every time we talked about anything wedding-related, I would get panicky - not about the marriage part, but about the wedding itself. Within moments, I would be either hysterical or despondent. How would we make all of these decisions, please everyone, stay within our budget, and still have a good time?! Thinking about planning felt like a waste - there was no way it would be right. 

And then two things happened. First, my fiancée told me she was avoiding talking to me about the wedding because my negativity was hard to take. That was a (much needed) kick in the gut. I had become so cranky about our wedding that my own fiancée didn't even want to talk to me about it. This, after I had pined for these moments?  I knew six months in that she was it for me, and four years later, I was pouting every time we had to make a decision?  To be wallowing in pity and despair seemed like a rather poor use of my energy. 
And second, A Practical Wedding hosted the Yay New York! Party (complete with two weddings) to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage in "the City." I was glad they were doing it, and I followed along as Meg live-blogged the event. But then she started writing about being weepy, how everyone was weepy, and how important the day was.  And I realized that I was totally unconnected emotionally to what she was talking about. 
But why?  I'm a lesbian.  I'm getting married – legally – in a state where I wouldn't have been able to five years ago.  I still can’t get married in my home state of Georgia.  So why no emotions?  Why no connection to the celebration of equal marriage rights in the most known city in the United States?  I rolled the question around in my mind for days, trying to sort out my emotions (or lack thereof). 
Once, I was very invested in gay rights and marriage equality.  I taped the front page of the paper to my bedroom door when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.  I held up signs outside ex-gay conventions.  I stuffed envelopes at PFLAG volunteer nights.  I started law school thinking I would become a gay rights evangelist. 
What now?  I tried to analyze myself - maybe I was avoiding the connection because I was so overwhelmed by my own wedding planning; maybe I just didn't care about New York. 
But a little ugly thought kept nagging at me - maybe I had become complacent.  Maybe my gay life in DC had gotten so easy that I had forgotten to remember.  Maybe I had forgotten about the people in Georgia who can’t legalize their unions, about the non-biological mothers with no legal rights who have their children torn from them by their once-loving partners, about the couples in the few states with equal marriage who still have to go through crazy machinations to file federal tax returns.  Maybe I had forgotten about the suicides and the bullying and the homelessness, about what it must mean to a young teenage girl, afraid of her feelings, to see pictures on television and the computer of lesbian couples happily taking part in the most sacred of our institutions.  Maybe I had forgotten what I felt like before I entered into this liberal haven, where no one bats an eyelash when my fiancée and I walk by holding hands.  Perhaps I had forgotten how lucky I am that next year I will be marrying the love of my life in front of my family and my friends, that we will sign a marriage license and it will take a legal act to end that union. That our children, when we have them, will be 100% mine and 100% hers from Day One. Perhaps I had forgotten to be grateful. 
There will be a day somewhere in the future when gay and lesbian couples will get married and be no more grateful for the day's blessings than anyone else because they won't remember that there was ever anything different.  I hope for that day.  But today is not it.  And it won't be next year.  While there are people in so many states who can’t experience the joy of saying "my wife" or "my husband" without qualification, I’m ashamed that I forgot to be grateful. 
We’re not going to plan everything perfectly, and we won’t please everyone.  It’s the nature of weddings.  But how awesome, how truly awesome that I get to even try with this woman that I love.  That we can plan this celebration and that when we get things wrong, we’ll get them wrong together.  That at the end of all the partying and the festivities, I’ll go to sleep next to my wife.  And if that’s not getting it right, I’m not sure what is.