Saturday, January 12, 2008

Love Is Even Better to Me Than It Promises

The postings on this site ares my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Inspired by Art

Last night, we used the excuse of iffy weather to keep us from making the trip to NYC for synagogue and instead, stayed home to watch two rented DVDs: "Gray Matters" and "Puccini for Beginners." "Gray Matters" was rewarding ultimately for its beautiful stars, funny moments and good intentions, and "Puccini for Beginners," about which I had a chip on my shoulder after reading the description on the DVD, turned out to be marvelous.

I thought "Puccini..." would be "Chasing Amy"-esque, where the women ended up with men and I ended up frustrated. Instead, it reminded me of my own sexual identity development, which involved pursuing romance both with women and men in my teens and through age 20.

And then this morning, I finished an E.L. Doctorow short story in this week's "New Yorker." It reminded me of a recent "New Yorker" short story by John Updike in the lengths to which it went to demonstrate home-wreckage of particular, upper-middle-class, suburban, opposite-sex couples.

After seeing last night's films of struggles for love, and reading and recalling short stories about damaged love this morning, I felt a surge of happiness for the love I have with Pat. I sang in the supermarket while selecting items that Pat wanted in order to make herself lunch -- Kobe roast beef and a poppy-seed Kaiser roll. Meanwhile, Pat stayed home, chopping vari-colored peppers and throwing them in a pot along with mushrooms, four types of beans, tomatoes and chili powder for me.

The Real Deal

How ironic to be writing this blog entry during football-widow season. And I'm not writing it to score points with Pat either; while she supports my writing, and understands that I need to do it, she never reads any of it.

A friend was telling me that 2008 will be a "monument to fun;" she plans to laugh more often. "I didn't laugh enough last year. My partner's --"

"Profound," I interjected.

"Yes, profound, but not that funny. I need to hang out with people like you and Pat more often --"

"Yeah, I'm so, so lucky that Pat's so funny." And then I gave my friend a recent, delicious sample to help her keep her resolution.

In a Spin

Still thinking of the sweet parts of last nights' films, not long after waking up this morning, I reflected aloud about Pat's and my first one-on-one conversation:

"Pat, you actually made me spin around with laughter; it was so *girly* of me."

"Yes, it was," Pat said with pride in her voice. Pat's comic timing while telling me about a film I hadn't even seen was so good that I spun involuntarily at one particularly funny line of hers. I had never done it before, or since, but she agreed that it charmed her and spurred her on. And here we are 15.5 years later.

Us in India Compared to in the United States

Yesterday, I was speaking with a heterosexual colleague, who looked at my blog occasionally while I was in India, and who asked me how it was to be back.

I began to tell her and she added, "And you can be out again." Coming from her mouth, it sounded foreign at first and then right on.

"Yes!" I agreed. I don't think she knew the half of it, nor did most of this blog's readers, I think, as I don't believe I shared this while we were there:

Pat and I slept in the same room only when we traveled and just a few times back in Bangalore during the whole six months. Prior to going to India, we were told a story of a colleague, who took his male partner to India with him on his assignment, and who was rousted out of bed by the police, who told him, "Bring X money to the police station in the morning or...."

The guys left the country on the next plane. Assignment over.

I didn't want anything to spoil my assignment and both of us agreed that we wanted the experience of living in India, so we opted to stay safe and respect the local norms in parallel by having a daily maid only Monday-Friday, so that we could have the freedom to sleep in the same room over the weekends.

As it turned out, Pat's room was uncomfortable to me, since the air conditioner blew at us directly and since her bed was slab-like. And my room didn't appeal to Pat, since the air conditioner didn't face her, and since she couldn't read against the headboard, which she could do in her room.

For six months, mostly then, we slept apart.

During that time, I worried about how it would be when we returned to our bedroom back at home. Would I have grown used to having no one, breathing next to me? Would I end up, wanting to sleep in the guestroom from now on? What if we couldn't fall asleep with each other upon our return?

Once while in India, I took the opportunity to ride to the office with a senior executive and told him of how I almost had opted not to come on the assignment, since I knew that out of respect for the local culture, my partner and I would need to keep a very low profile, being explicitly open about our couple status only among IBMers.

"It's dehumanizing to have to pretend in front of our maid," I told the exec.

The exec. said, "[His boss] said this would happen -- that talented people wouldn't come to India because of this [inability to be open about their sexual orientation, if it wasn't heterosexual]."

He said that he appreciated that we were being mindful of Indian societal norms and that he wanted to be more inclusive of GLBT people at IBM, but that it "...couldn't be a cookie-cutter approach," where we took whatever worked elsewhere around the world and simply applied it to India. "It has to be done in an Indian way," he said, and then suggested that using the media would likely be the smartest approach. "There has been more and more talk about it on TV here," he said, and that was the angle he thought would work....

Narrating a bit of Pat's and my sacrifice to an influential executive might have begun to inspire further inclusion, which is great, but indeed, what has happened to our sleeping habits, since we've returned home?

Miraculously, there's no sleeping re-adjustment. It's even lovelier than it always has been for our having been denied it for half a year, and I'm no longer lonely when I wake up. And our home-bed has such a heavenly mattress, and I'm so grateful, as my colleague suggested, that we don't have to sneak around -- or feel that we need to -- any longer.

Despite Pat's neglect of me for a football marathon this weekend -- the Packers are playing today, and I'm dutifully wearing a green sweatshirt, sporting the Packers logo -- I'm in a romantically grateful mood about us. Alas, Pat's passion is channeled utterly into the game right now. I just heard her screaming in the basement, "First down!"


Anonymous said...

I am so happyfor you and Pat. How wonderful you enjoy one another so much.

Sarah Siegel said...

Yeah, what a miracle. Sometimes, life feels hard and then Pat often makes it so much easier. I was talking with a friend tonight about what a roller coaster life is. Her cousin's son lost his 29-year-old wife to cancer, and her same cousin's daughter just had a baby. I don't think there's such a thing as pure, or rather, total joy.