JB and I were together for over a year when the roommate he shared his apartment with got engaged to his girlfriend and moved out. It made sense for me to take over the lease and move in with him. And I got scared. It seemed like such a huge relationship step to take. More like a leap really. But pragmatism overruled my cold feet and I moved in with JB.
A few years later when we decided to invest our rent money into a place of our own, the decision seemed like a no-brainer. Logically, you would think buying a house together would be a much more stressful commitment than renting an apartment together, but it wasn't. I remember considering the irony of this as we set up house in our new condo.
Six years later I found myself laid off and looking for a job. While I could continue receiving health benefits with a COBRA, JB offered a more affordable option. His company recently extended employee health coverage to "registered domestic partners". The application process was stringent, but nothing beyond what we could easily prove. We'd lived together for many years and our day-to-day finances were demonstrably linked.
We assembled the forms and required paperwork and sought a notary public. Suddenly, while signing the forms in front of a witness, the reality of what we were doing hit me. This was the closest we could legally get to a declaration of lifelong commitment. And I got scared.
JB and I were having relationship issues at the time, most of which boiled down to a lack of consensus over the definition of "commitment". I momentarily considered putting a stop to the proceedings. But once again, pragmatism overruled my fear and hesitation and I added my signature to the forms. And there at the counter of Mailboxes Etcetera, to the sound of one fax machine negotiating a connection to another, we officially became domestic partners.
A few weeks later I moved out. I'd reached the breaking point and was determined to get back on my feet on my own terms. That was five years ago today.
Three months later I came home, not even sure I still had a home. He didn't have to, but JB took me back. It wasn't easy, but with counseling we learned how to negotiate trust and over time things got better. I found an even better job and domestic life gradually resumed a comfortable routine. It wasn't exactly the same as those days we first moved in together, but in some ways it was better. When JB went into the hospital for a hip replacement, and again a few months later when his body rejected the implant, I couldn't imagine being anywhere in the world but at his side.
Last Saturday I was having dinner with my buddy, Gilbert. We were discussing this week's Supreme Court hearings regarding DOMA and Proposition 8. Suddenly Gilbert asked a question I wasn't expecting. "Would you guys get married?"
My lack of hesitation surprised myself.
"In a heartbeat."