We are two middle aged lesbians with two small non-shedding dogs. That is how it began. I was half way out, half way in and this would be my half way house; a place where I could transition from a fraction of a person to a whole.
When I began my apartment search after the end of a twenty two year marriage, I was looking for less of a place to live, and more of a place to begin a new life. Fearful of discrimination, I discarded potential apartments because of many perceived defects. The owners lived next door and would question why men stayed overnight, or the landlord was homophobic because he spoke of nothing but sports or the neighbors were so close they might hear me with someone. I must have anticipated a much more active and promising sex life than what came to fruition. In the end I was discriminating against myself. If I didn’t accept me, how could I expect others to?
Then I saw the advertisement for a basement apartment posted by two middle aged lesbians. It was close to the city, the price was well within my range, and if this was not an accepting environment what would be? I crafted a reply that summarized my life in four sentences. I was married with children. I am now separated. I am gay. I am homeless. These were not the exact words, but it all basically boiled down to the same.
“Do you like dogs?” Nancy asked amused.
“I love them,” I said as I looked down at Rusty’s pink tongue darting in and out of his mouth never taking his eyes off of my face.
“Apparently they love you. We think Rusty is gay,” Nancy said and let out a laugh. That was the beginning of our friendship. Within a month, I moved in the few remnants of my ex-wife’s unwanted belongings, cast-offs from friends and items bought from a yard sale. Somehow, it all worked. I was home.
Many times I would come home from work and find a plate of food, wrapped in plastic with a note from Nancy “chili verde, nuke in the microwave for two minutes” . I would devour the food; knock on the door at the top of the steps to return the plate and spend the better part of the evening sharing beers and stories with Nancy and Brenda. Just as I devoured the food, I devoured their lives and their experiences. They were my link to the history I had ignored and the future that I embraced. I learned that they had been together for twenty five years, Nancy was an accomplished cook, and Brenda was a social worker who passed up a degree at MIT. They consoled me when life became too heavy and celebrated my milestones, no matter how trivial, on the path to recovery. Their love for each other and for me was unconditional.