I have to tell you from the start that I was completely happy being single.
Well into my late thirties, to me, relationships were complications; at least, that’s the way they looked from the outside. My friends worried about how much they were expected to change for their sigs, what plans they had to scrap, what books they had to read and diet they needed to stick to. Then there was the reverse, where they complained that their sigs had bad habits, problematic career paths, and unfortunate family members, all of which needed to be managed. Then they wondered why I seemed so content about not having a boyfriend.
The longest relationship I had ever been in was five months, three of which were spent trying to end it without bloodshed. I was living in D.C. at the time, and we had a blizzard that winter. We probably would have ended it earlier, but it’s hard to run out in 4-foot snowdrifts with the Metro shut down.
The good thing about not being desperate about a relationship, you’re not so eager to please on your first date. Before we were finished with cocktails at the O-Bar in West Hollywood on our first date, I said to Ian straight up that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, because I had never been in one, and it suited me fine. Ian told me that he also wasn’t looking for a relationship, because he had just broken up with his boyfriend of nearly two decades, and he wanted to take it slow and see what happened.
That was six years ago this month, and what happened with us was love, marriage, and a baby.
My mom always told me growing up, “I’ve never gotten what I deserved, and thank God for that.” That’s how I feel every day, well aware of how stupidly lucky I am.
After we had been dating for about a year, we decided that we should live with each other. That wasn’t such a momentous decision, since we lived three blocks away from each other in West Hollywood, and saw each other daily and nightly. We had talked theoretically about having kids, so instead of Ian moving into my one-bedroom/one-bath, I sold it, and we began looking for a house with two or three bedrooms. In Los Angeles, unless you’re a millionaire, that means casting a pretty wide net beyond WeHo. Ours landed in the San Fernando Valley.
We bought a house in Reseda, a neighborhood that was so unhip even in 1984, that Ralph Macchio was bullied and beaten about living here in The Karate Kid. The house we found is at the end of a quiet cul de sac, with a pool, big kitchen, and three bedrooms, and pomelo, loquat, macadamia, and Valencia and blood orange trees growing in the garden. Fuck being hip. It gets better, right?
<span style=”font-size: 12px;”>We got married in our backyard, and my parents flew out for it, together with 75 of our best friends. The highlight was Ian impetuously kissing me before the officiant got to the “You may now kiss” part.</span>
It was a rare moment that was corny, happy, and involved two gay men in love. In other words, gay in all three senses of the word.
About a year later, we started looking into foster-adoption. That’s one of the choices open to gay male couples in California hoping to have a family, and the only choice open to gay male couples who are just well-off enough to have a nice house in Reseda. One couple we know has the most adorable little boy, but we can never look at him without thinking of how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he cost, between egg donor and surrogate, before he even was enrolled in the top preschool in the city, and just so they could say he shares one of the couples’ DNA, a bit. Another couple who went through private adoption got a wonderful little girl, but they had to spend nearly as much taking care of her biological mother through her last trimester as they’ll spend outfitting her in Baby Dior and Dolce & Gabbana Junior.
Foster-adoption isn’t expensive, but it has its cost. Every child in the system has a story that would break your heart, inevitably involving extreme deprivation, crime, drugs, mental illness, and abuse. Ian and I had a couple terrible false starts, but we ended up with a boy who is our son.
His name is Michael. We usually call him Mikey.
This child is a wonder. He makes me rethink my atheism. He’s funny, smart, handsome, and has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. He will share with you things you would never, ever want, like a piece of buttered toast that has been licked clean of butter. I want to grab him up in my arms and hold him and protect him from all the horrors that life will throw at him, but the truth is that he already faced those horrors, from day zero to day six hundred, the moment when he came into our lives. His social worker told us that she had never seen him smile before, and while that makes me a little proud knowing that we helped, it makes me miserable to think how long he was so unhappy.
Mikey had good reasons to be unhappy, but I don’t want to talk about the details of his old life on the world wide web without his permission – which he’s probably a good ten years away from giving me.
I don’t have any problems, though, with talking about my new life, and what it means to have a same-sex household with child.
It’s like what Mikey said last night when we were trying to get him to go sleep. After we thought the boy was down, he came padding out of the bedroom.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” we bellowed.
Mikey burst into tears. “Now I start happy decisions!”
Can I get an Amen?