When Quint came home, I was sitting in front of the computer impatiently reloading Facebook again and again every few seconds. “I know,” I said, without looking at him, “I should be writing papers. But I need to see if they’ve voted yet.”
He walked over and leaned down, and I turned my head slightly so he could kiss me, but still kept my eyes on the screen and my hand on the mouse, clicking the refresh button once again. He straightened up after just a moment. “Hey.”
That was his look-at-me tone, not stern in any way but with a faint undercurrent of authority. I transferred my gaze to him immediately.
“I know this is important, but could I get a real kiss, please?” he asked, smiling slightly.
My own lips curled in response. “Sorry,” I said, pulling him down by his tie and putting more effort and attention into it. “Better?”
“Yes, thank you.” He smoothed his tie and set his briefcase down on the desk while I turned back to the computer.
“I’ve been watching the news feed since I got home. They’ve been debating for hours now. I think it should be any minute.”
He rubbed my shoulder and asked, “You remember what we said?”, referring to the conversation we’d had yesterday when it was announced that the state senate would possibly be voting on the marriage equality bill at nine last night.
I clicked refresh again. “Yes, and I’m trying not to get my hopes incredibly high, but honestly I think you should have more optimism.”
“I’m trying to be optimistic, but I also think we need to keep in mind that we don’t know if the votes are there to pass it, and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.”
Honestly, does he always have to be so pragmatic? “It just means we have to fight harder, I know.”
“And either way, just the fact that they are finally voting is a big step forward, because now we’ll know for sure who we need to concentrate our attention on, rather than all the secrecy of where people stand.”
“Yeah.” He had said that last night, too, after it started to look like the senate was delaying for another day and he dragged me off to bed – ignoring all my very pragmatic arguments, I might add. Which I guess answers my earlier question.
My pulse skipped a beat. There was a new item in the feed. My eyes raced over the words, and then my heart, which had been hammering, suddenly felt leaden. “Thirty-eight ‘no’s and twenty-four ‘yes’s,” I said softly. “It- we were defeated.”
Quint pulled me out of the chair and against him, wrapping his arms around me tight. “We were not defeated,” he said in my ear. “We’ve lost one battle. The war is far from over.”
I sighed into his collarbone, and then quietly said the only thing I could think of to sum up my feelings. “Fucking sons of bitches and bastards.”
“Yes,” he agreed, just as quietly.
I looked at the computer screen. I knew that the newsfeed was probably exploding with new posts, but while before I couldn’t tear myself away, now I wanted nothing to do with it. I disentangled from Quint enough to reach over and put the machine to sleep, and then buried myself in his hug again.
After a moment, he started to speak, a bit hesitantly. “Remember the suggestion I made last night?”
I winced and pulled back enough to look at him. “I really don’t want to get married out of state. It’s only the governor’s executive order that’s making the state agencies recognize those marriages right now. What happens when a new governor gets elected who repeals the order? I don’t think I could go through that…. I’m really sorry.”
And I was. It was clear from the way Quint had brought it up last night and again just now that he considered it a viable option, but for me it wasn’t. I had read the horror stories of the couples in California being caught in legal and emotional limbo, and I was determined not to subject myself to that. New York doesn’t have ballot initiatives, so what happened there and in Maine wouldn’t be able to happen here if same-sex marriage was legalized.
No, once it’s legalized, not if.
Quint said, “I understand, and it’s not as though I have my heart set on getting married right now in another state, I just thought we should consider it. But if you feel that strongly about it, that’s fine.”
I gave him another kiss, relieved that he sympathized, and then said, “I need to write a song.” Quint knew what I meant, of course. Creating new music is one of the ways I vent.
He nodded. “Okay, but after dinner you really do need to work on those papers. The history one is nearly done; if you finish it tonight you’ll have one less thing to think about over the weekend.”
We were coming up fast on the end of the semester, and I was buried in due-dates for the next week. It’s one of the times of year when I appreciate Quint’s guidance with my schoolwork most, because I know without him I’d never get it all done on time. Which is why even though I’d rather be forced to read the entire Twilight saga to a group of 14-year-old girls than write more about the history of Italian opera, I said, “’Kay.”
I got my music notebook and sat down on the couch while he went into the bedroom to change out of his suit.
A couple of hours later, when we had eaten and Quint had done a proofread of the paper (“Theo, no matter how stuffy you think it is, I don’t think your professor will consider ‘snooze-fest’ to be a proper academic analysis.”), we were talking about what more we could do in the fight for equality when my phone started playing Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” – Zeggy’s ringtone.
Her voice sounded harried, a relatively rare occurrence. “Hey, sweetie. Today’s been crazy. I just found out the vote result, and I’m ticked.”
“Me, too. Quint and I were just talking about making sure the Democrats who voted no don’t get reelected next year – especially the ones that got campaign support from LGBT groups.”
“Definitely. Are you going to the rally?”
I frowned in confusion. “What rally?”
“The one in Union Square at six tomorrow night. They announced it an hour ago; haven’t you been watching the websites?”
“No, I thought it would just upset me more. Hang on.” I turned to Quint, sitting on the couch next to me. “There’s a rally being held in Union Square tomorrow at six. Can we go?”
“Sure. I’ll meet you there after I get out of work.”
“We’ll be there,” I said into the phone.
“Great. So will we, and the kids. It says the north end of the square, and to bring candles or a flashlight. I think I’ll bring the signs we made for the National Equality March, too.”
“Sounds good. See you there.”
We said goodbye and hung up, and I worked on the song until bed, scribbling and crossing out possible lyrics in my notebook as I lay with my head on Quint’s thigh and he ran his hand through my hair and watched Discovery Channel.
“Do you, Theo, take Quint to be your lifelong partner?”
I looked into Quint’s eyes for a few moments. We were both smiling. “I do.”
“Do you, Quint, take Theo to be your partner forevermore?”
“You may now kiss.”
We did, to the accompaniment of whoops and hollers from the audience, and then turned to walk down the aisle hand in hand. I beamed as I looked at all our friends and family – my parents and Quint’s, Zeggy, Ike, and the twins, the band, George…
Suddenly the piece of operatic music that had been playing in the background turned into a rock song that sounded very familiar, although I couldn’t think of the name of it.
I blinked and woke up.
My immediate reaction was a stab of disappointment that it had all been a dream, but then the first lines of the randomly-selected song that had awoken me started playing from my iPhone dock, and I abruptly had an idea. I turned it over in my head for a few seconds, and decided I liked it.
Quint walked into the bedroom with the towel from his shower wrapped around his waist, and I propped myself up on my elbows to watch my favorite morning show: him dropping the towel in the hamper and stepping into a pair of briefs.
I started singing along with the song, and he looked over at me and smiled as he pulled on pants. “I need you… to soothe my head… turn my bluu-uuue heart to red.”
He walked over and got ahold of my hands, pulling until I was out of bed and on my feet, and we started dancing as I continued to sing.
“Doctor, doctor, give me the news,
I got a bad case of lovin’ you
No pill’s gonna cure my ill
I got a bad case of looooovin’ you.”
I did a spin on the second long ‘lovin’ and he caught me close, both of us laughing.
“Good morning, angel. Sleep well?”
“Yes. I had an interesting dream, though. We were standing up in front of… oh, everyone we know, basically, and we were pledging to be partners for life.”
He raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You’re changing your mind about-”
I interrupted quickly to explain. “No, I still don’t want to get married out of state. But it made me realize that a large part of what I want has nothing to do with the legal aspect. I just want to celebrate our love with the people we care about, now especially, because it feels like it’s under attack.” I paused to judge his reaction so far, and seeing that it wasn’t adverse, continued, “So I was thinking, what about having a commitment ceremony? Just something simple with maybe dinner at a restaurant afterwards, and then when we can get married we’ll have the huge cake and dancing ’til midnight and everything. What do you think?”
Quint smiled. “I like that idea.”
“Yeah? Good. That just leaves one thing, then.”
I grinned wickedly and wrapped my arms around him before falling back onto the bed, pulling him with me. My hand went to the zipper of his pants, bypassing the button he hadn’t bothered to fasten, and I started singing along with the music again.
“I know you like it… you like it on top.”
He laughed and cut off any further singing with his mouth against mine.