Happily Ever After

First published at 365gay.com on June 25, 2010

Three years ago I wrote a column “Young Love, Older Love” about a couple I called “Bob” and “Jim.” At the time I wrote [http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/31405.html]:

“My partner Mark and I introduced ‘Bob’ and ‘Jim’ at a dinner party at our place. Bob, 31, is recently out of the closet, and Jim, 27, just returned to the U.S. after living overseas for four years. We weren’t trying to play matchmaker when we invited them, though the idea occurred to me as the party approached, and we rearranged the seating right before dinner to maximize their interaction. That was two weeks ago. They’ve been inseparable since.”

Well, that was almost three years ago, and they’re still inseparable. And this weekend, they’re getting married.

I toyed with the idea of putting “married” in quotation marks in the last paragraph. Their wedding will be in Michigan, which constitutionally forbids same-sex marriage “or similar union for any purpose.” The Presbyterian Church hosting the event calls it a holy union, and some of our friends are calling it a commitment ceremony.

But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a wedding: an event that will turn the partners into spouses; their relationship into a marriage. Not in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of Bob and Jim (real names: Boyd and Josh) and their friends and family.

I don’t believe in fate, and I particularly reject the notion that for every individual, there is a single “soul mate” that you’re destined to be with. Rather, there is a range of people with whom you’re more-or-less compatible, and if you’re prudent and lucky you connect with one.

Still, the number of improbable twists in Boyd and Josh’s eventual meeting certainly feeds a more romantic, “stars aligning” narrative.

I met Josh in 2002, when he was an undergraduate at Cornell and I was there to give a talk. He actually missed the talk, but recognized me at a nearby dance club later on. We exchanged hellos, and that was that—or so I thought.

The following summer Mark and I were at a local Detroit pizzeria when a young man approached us. I only vaguely recognized him. “You won’t remember me,” he said, “but we met last year when you visited Cornell.” Josh had recently graduated, and he was home in Michigan visiting family while preparing to move to Japan to teach English.

Coincidentally, Mark and I were planning on visiting Japan that August, so we all exchanged e-mails. But we never did follow up, and we fell out of touch.

Meanwhile, over three years later, Boyd joined our circle of friends—a Southerner transplanted to Detroit.

Then, in fall of 2007, Mark set up a Facebook profile. Without intending to, he triggered the “Friend Finder” feature that uploads your entire e-mail address book. Josh’s address happened still to be in there, so he got a request. At first he didn’t remember Mark, and he almost rejected the request. But then he looked at his photos, noticed my picture, and put two and two together.

As it happened, he had just returned to Detroit after spending four years in Japan (three more than planned). What’s more, he was working in the same office complex as Mark. They met for lunch, we invited him to dinner, he and Boyd “clicked”—and the rest, as they say, is history.

When I wrote the 2007 column, I contrasted the giddiness of young love with the quiet security of more mature relationships:

“Part of the reason [Boyd] and [Josh] are so giddy right now is that they mutually wonder ‘Does he really like me?’ and then thrill at every affirmative indication. How joyous to expose oneself to another and have the risk rewarded with tenderness.”

Now Boyd and Josh don’t have to wonder anymore. They know. And this weekend they will pledge before their friends and family “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

A simple hello at an off-campus dance club, another—miles away and months later—at a pizza place, a never-realized Japanese rendezvous, an accidental Facebook friend-request, a dinner party, a courtship, a wedding, a marriage. I don’t believe in fate. But I do believe in love. Congratulations, guys.