It’s been one of those weeks when I have so much to share with you, yet share nothing. From blinding snow storms, to nostalgia for the forests of little-known Latvia, to the maddening last days of Christmas vacation with a Paw Patrol-obsessed toddler, to the organizing of the Athens chapter of the Women’s March on Washington.
But as I lay down to (quickly) go to sleep every night, one image grazes in my mind. That of one of my oldest friends, and I’m talking 30-odd years, sitting beside my fireplace, while a woman, now her fiancee, looks at her like we dream for our partners look at us forever. And that’s not even the image. It’s the smile on my friend’s face. I hadn’t seen it since we were young, innocent, easily pleased, naive and reckless in love, watching that VHS tape of Dirty Dancing till it got fuzzy during our favorite scenes and finally snapped. Since she was last truly happy.
My son asks who this other girl coming to dinner is, I tell him she’s my friend’s friend. And immediately regret it.
He’s four, he lives in a country that just like most of the world, has nothing but a few bustling enclaves of acceptance and freedom. I’m just privileged to have lived in some of them.
A battle begins in my mind: I should have told him they are partners, just like mommy and daddy. He wouldn’t have even asked, he’s too young to ask, to unset in his ways, too open, too free, to accepting. And then I thought of his long hair, the clip I use to keep it out of his face, his sometimes bright green marker-painted nails, the sticker his wonderful teacher stuck on his earlobe, and the glances and comments it all evoked and evokes from surrounding adults. I imagine him telling his friends about mommy’s friends, imagine them going home and telling their parents, and tell myself it’s ok I didn’t tell him the truth. Even though the truth is beautiful and the rest is ugly.
On January 21st, hundreds of thousands of people will gather all over the US and the world to protest against racism, bigotry, against darkness, suppression, and hate. They will shout for freedom, acceptance and love. I will be standing in front of the American embassy here in Athens, Greece having gathered as many people as I can, to demand what is ours, rightfully, naturally, irrevocably. Love. And when that day, my son asks me where I am going, I am going to tell him. Because he has to know what is ours before someone or something tells him otherwise.
And after I do that, I will take him with me when I proudly stand next to these two amazing women and listen to them exchange their vows.