The Tribal Council


Nearly twice a week the adult members of my tribe, usually at that quiet time once the kids are finally asleep, sit down sleepily with a nightcap in hand and our latest Genius list to amuse and delight our ears. Inevitably, especially after a series of really good days, a collection of horizontal lines creases up my forehead like a tiny, fleshy accordion.

That’s when the male member of my tribe will gently trace a finger over my brow and softly ask “what’s on your mind”? And I will sigh heartily, and muse silently about whether or not to have the same conversation we’ve had about 1000 times already. Then, because I believe communication will be paramount to this relationship, I launch into my familiar litany:

Will I have to remain a secret forever?
How and when do we tell the girls?
When can we stop pretending that I sleep on the couch?
How much do we care about what outsiders think, and how open can we be with our displays of affection when we’re all together?
How worried are you about other people thinking you are having an affair?
If we decide to have another child what/how do we tell the girls?
Will I ever be able to appear at family functions? Will my family accept you at ours?
What will we do when family members start trying to set me up with other people?

At this moment, I have a three and a half year old in my lap who is licking me like a puppy…

Both of my partners listen patiently. Then we talk through possible scenarios and what ifs. We usually laugh together, and get a bit pensive. I apologize for ONCE AGAIN having to talk about all the same things, but nobody is mad at me. My male partner tells me that only through talking about my fears are we all able to address our worry, and put it into context, and take away some of its power. My female partner usually sits silently listening, but will then look up at me and the calm, quiet of her gaze says all of the words that I need to hear.

In this relationship, more than any other in my life, I am positive that I will realize everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Though we three are all very different, we have the exact same approach to life, and we all want the same kind of experience of the world. We love the same things, from music to food, we’re committed to seeing as much of the world that we can, we realize that beyond family and close friends there isn’t much else that’s truly important. When you take the lid off and look inside, it’s a really ideal diorama. However, the problem with lifting off the lid is that the rest of the world can squeak in. Some of the rest of the world isn’t so thrilled for us.

Something that I read last night stated that what we are doing is challenging thousands of years of the tradition of marriage. I think this was worded more like “flipping the bird at” but I really couldn’t disagree more. In my own Schnooie head, we are kicking it WAAAY old school. Like pre-Christian old school when tribes came together and lovingly raised children collectively. People in those days didn’t claim ownership of children. They were gifts from the gods, and a very serious responsibility for everyone. Am I naive to think that this model has a place in our modern age?

I have a lawyer friend who specializes in family law who is near drooling whenever I talk about my relationship. She says proudly that we are setting a new precedent. After years and years of helping heterosexual couples weed through messy divorces and child custody battles, she believes that we are brave and enlightened.

Last week my partners hosted a dinner party for some of my oldest, closest friends. He cooked a truly elaborate and spectacular Thai feast and she assisted, and turned the house into a lovely, tidy little haven. The girls were at their most charming, and everyone was cast in warm light, smiling and laughing together like old friends. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy.

One of my girlfriends, who has borne witness to my last two big relationships, told me last night that she has never seen me so still, so calm, and so committed. Not even to the man who I went on to marry. She doesn’t comment often on my relationships. She usually is a great ear, but will only give her opinion if pressed. Last night she offered this freely.

I think of my gay friends who have had to deal with outside scrutiny for their whole lives. Who move forward with life and love despite the popular opinion that their existence is ‘strange’ or ‘abnormal’. From the time I was very wee, I realized that I wasn’t like the other kids, and only now, at 33 am I beginning to understand exactly what that means. My new realizations, my new choices don’t change who I am. I feel like this is the next essential layer on my path to self-realization. My life feels ‘normal’ now. The restlessness I’ve always fought with has dissipated. Perhaps it will come back, but for now I’m enjoying this great sense of peace, and this near-overwhelming sense of happiness and belonging. I suppose everything must come with a price, and negotiating the judgements and criticism of the outside world is nothing new to me.

On Sunday I planned and executed the six year old’s first official birthday party. It was a huge success, and I met many of the parents of her school mates, who all seemed like warm, lovely people. We offered no explanation about our relationship, and when two of the moms asked my female partner what our relation was, she said “Schnoo is a very, very dear friend.” The both smiled and shook their heads ruefully and said “Where can WE get a Schnoo?”

I like to think they’d be even more eager to acquire one of me if they knew how my love extends well beyond party planning.

The Falling Game

Last week, my partners and I made our first “out” outing. We went to a baseball game, which I suppose is all full of outs, and innings. And switch hitters, and home runs. Anyway, I digress…

My girl was playing, and her whole team seemed to be “in the know” because while my guy and I sat in the bleachers with their darling three year old cheering mommy on, we were getting lots of curious stares. Nothing malicious, a few nervous smiles, some genuine warm greetings and conversation, but definitely more attention than we would have attracted under other circumstances.

That’s not the point of this story though.

While the ball game was being played, I witnessed another game unfold. My partner would scoot his little girl’s feet so her toes were just meeting the edge of the bleachers, and then he’d have her put her arms out, and close her eyes. As she trembled with anticipation, he would then give her a little push, and then immediately catch her as she erupted in fits of giggles. She demanded he do this over and over, and when he asked her if she was afraid she said “No daddy! You never drop me! Not ever!!”.

I was so moved by this.

My father was the kind of dad who, as I imagine was the case with most of his generation, treated child-rearing like it was my mother and grandmother’s job. (I grew up in a three-parent household). He was pretty hands off, and not really very affectionate. We had some good bonding experiences over music, but to the best of my memory, there were very few hugs, or snuggles, or kisses. As a result, it’s always been strange, and perhaps even a little uncomfortable for me to witness modern daddies being as affectionate as mommies are with their kidlets. Maybe my dad was terrified of being perceived as doing something inappropriate?

At any rate, this falling game filled me with such a strange mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy because I realized that this simple, silly exercise was in fact building layers of trust so deep that this little lady would never even really know where they came from; trust in men, trust in other people, trust in her daddy, trust in taking risks. My sadness came from realizing there was no such equivalent in my own childhood experience.

I loved my partner so fiercely in that moment for having such finely-honed paternal instincts.

It’s been almost 24 hours since I hit ‘send’ on the very difficult, very heartfelt email I composed for my dad after my mom outed me to him. I haven’t heard a peep. I thought about calling, but it just feels too raw, and too hard to form the words. We’ve never really been able to talk about personal things, and I just don’t even know where to begin with this. I feel like the reality of who I am, and the choices I am makingĀ  have taken him to a whole new level of uncomfortable where his little girl is concerned.

My mom suggested that I give him space to digest all of the information, and of course I understand this, and respect it. I’m just scared that things will never be the same, and that the special voice that he reserves only for me will be something I never hear again.

I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen my father display a lot of emotion. The first was the week that my Nana, his mom, died. He found her in cardiac arrest in her room downstairs as he returned from his night shift. He attempted to resuscitate her while the paramedics came, but it was too late. After the funeral, we were in the kitchen, and I was in the fridge getting some milk to go with our chocolate chip cookies. He was musing about growing up as an only child, and how his dad died when he was only twelve. He said “I guess your mom and you kids are all I have left now.” The warble in his voice made my throat clench up so hard that I spent an extra five minutes poking around the cheese and condiments to I wouldn’t have to see him cry.

The second moment was when he was about to walk me down the aisle. That moment is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever seen him in relation to me. He suddenly turned to me, squeezed my hand, and whispered fiercely with shining eyes. “I LOVE you.”

I’m still the same me daddy. Somewhere in all of the grown up stuff that’s been layered on is the little girl who used to fall asleep listening to your old records with your giant headphones. I’m still the duck-faced social butterfly who could delight shop keepers with my precocious vocabulary. (A snow-suited six year old me, when told by the variety store lady that I looked adorable declared “I look RIDICK U LEEZ!”) I’m still excited about watching nature documentaries and old Next Generation re-runs together. I still think you’re the funniest, smartest man I know.

I hope you still love me, and will come to embrace everyone else who loves me too.

My Tribe


Everyone I know and love is having babies.

Ok, not EVERYONE, but close. While sharing in their joy and excitement, this also leaves me feeling a little bit like the last unicorn.

The last year and a half in Schnooville has been an incredible exercise in learning my independence, and really growing very happy standing on my own. I’m happy with the woman I am, and satisfied with my life, and I’ve decided that I never want to feel like I need someone else in order to have the kind of life that I want.

As a result, I began to think about how I might complete the rest of the puzzle without anyone else, if for no other reason to stop feeling like I’m waiting for someone to fall into my life. I stopped looking. I began imagining single-parent scenarios, and made a list of all the people I knew I could count on for support if I decided to go down that road.

Then something extraordinary happened.

Is there a “right” way to have a family? Is the conventional two-parent, heterosexual model the only one? In this day of two mommy and two daddy families, can we really believe that only a mommy and a daddy can create a positive, loving home in which to raise a family?

Not in Schnooville. Here, we’re looking beyond the traditional Western model. The vast and mysterious universe has served up an order I wouldn’t have even thought to place, and now I’m turning my world around and examining each corner and each line to see how everything I thought I knew about life and love can be renovated and remodeled for a bigger, better reality.

I hope to be able to share more of this wonderful story here, but first there are big decisions to make, and very important people to share these decisions with. There will be no immediate pitter patter either. A lot of love and groundwork must be laid down first. What I wish to impart is that life will give you wonderful things if you open up your heart and trust in powers that are greater than us all.

Possibility is one of the most exciting things I know. It invites imagination, dreaming, and hope in abundance. The way we embrace possibility tells us so much about the people we are, and the way we move through our lives.

This possibility is just too good to walk away from.