Not My Normal Post

So I talk about changing the meaning of ‘manning up’ from being this misogynistic machismo thing to a concept of men taking responsibility for their actions and their lives. I’m working on manning up myself, because I want to be the best man I can possibly be. And I’ve got some really awesome role models to help me fill those shoes. 

Turns out, I’ve got a new guy to add to that list. 

We all struggle with life at times. And, it’s gotta be some kind of Murphy’s Law that kicks you when you’re already down. 

But I know a guy, in spite of all the stuff he’s got on his plate, is manning up in one of the best ways possible. He’s manning up to be a father. He’s fighting for his son. 

My co-worker, my friend, is fighting for full custody of his son.

I wish you could see him talk about his son. His face completely lights up and you can literally see him filling up with pride. But it’s not the sort of unattainable adoration that every son acheives to invoke in his father. This is real. This is a father’s love for his son. I dare you to talk to him about his kid and not find yourself feeling proud right alongside with him.  

But here’s the thing. In order to get full custody, it costs money. Filing fees, attorney fees – my friend and his fiancee have a lawyer ready to go, but they don’t have the money. Now, normally I don’t do this, because I don’t always feel comfortable asking for money. This is different. This guy, this man – he wants to do the right thing, he wants to be the father to his son and give him a life of love and happiness and teach him what being a man is all about. 

My friend has some medical needs, both him and his fiancee, that need taking care of. He’s paying for those out of pocket, so when it comes to money for a lawyer, he’s lacking the necessary funds for the ongoing process of a custody fight.

This is where I’m turning to you, friends. He’s started a GoFundMe to try and raise the money for lawyer’s fees. Any and all donations help.  

He’s working on fixing mistakes from his past, so let’s not punish his son for past ghosts (God knows we all have some). My friend also said any money left over from the process would go to the travelling hockey team his son plays for – to help other families that are struggling give their kids a little something extra.

I really want to see this dad get custody of his son. So how about helping out? I did. You should too. I wouldn’t advocate for this guy if I didn’t believe in what he is doing.


Embracing the Unexpected

Today is a special day. Not for me so much as it is for my girlfriend. It’s her birthday today. I feel really bad that I don’t have any money to buy her a gift. I will though. I’m working on improving myself. And it’s because of her.

It’s been this wonderful whirlwind romance, a beautiful experience in life. An experience in which you grow and learn – not just about your partner, but you learn things about yourself too. They (whomever ‘they’ are) say that if you change yourself, you should do it for you, not for someone else. But she…she makes me want to change, and not just for myself, but for everyone around me. She makes me want to be a better person, not because I’m not a good person now, but because I know I can be better.

I spent so much time in failed relationships, hanging on out of a desperation to feel loved, or at the very least, wanted. And that’s why I found myself back in my hometown, after a failed relationship forced me to make that 150 mile journey back home on New Year’s Eve. In a blizzard, no less. It was like Mother Nature was chastising me for blindly following my heart.

As I celebrated the new year by helping my friend (whose couch would become my bed) build a cabinet for her dry goods, I made a vow to hold off before getting romantically involved with anyone, and to hold off even longer before giving my heart away (which was a difficult vow to make as anyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve).

Fast forward to the evening of January 18th. I was down at my favorite haunt in my hometown with a couple of friends. We were standing out on the back porch, having a cigarette, when I watched this tall woman walk from the parking ramp towards the building. My friend commented on how tall that woman was. I simply nodded. I found myself fixated on her, and felt my heart beat faster as she approached the stairs to the bar.

We all courteously said hello, and I made sure to hold the door open. This woman flashed a gorgeous smile at me and that was pretty much it. I was done for.

Well, my friends and I continued to play pool once we came back inside. There was a group of people sitting near us, and my heart flip-flopped when I saw that tall woman sitting with the group. We kept making eye contact, and she invited me to sit with them.

I did, and I met some incredible people that night. People that I’m proud to call friends. They were part of a group that had met earlier, a group for gender non-conformists. I was sad when the night ended, but I managed to friend several of them on Facebook.

The following day, the woman I held the door open for messaged me on Facebook. We started chatting and immediately I found myself attracted.

But…this little voice in the back of my head started…she’s a trans*woman. Like I’d lose my right to be a lesbian for dating her.

I was ashamed of this voice. Because just the night before I had touted myself as an advocate, an ally, for everyone in the LGBTQIA community, not just a select few. I wasn’t discriminatory. I shut the voice up by ignoring it.

We continued chatting, and this attraction continued to grow. But that voice stuck around. Keep in mind, the voice wasn’t filled with disgust. In fact, there was no disgust in the voice whatsoever. It was more…confusion…than anything else.

You see, while I was a self-proclaimed lover of all people, it hadn’t always been that way. I grew up in a house where Rush Limbaugh graced the kitchen every afternoon and a signed letter from Ronald Reagan hung in the living room. My mom was openly bigoted, and had made it clear that homosexuality was wrong and disgusting, but being…transgender…well that was deserving of a special place in Hell. Regardless of how hard you try to rebel against an upbringing like that, sometimes parts of it stick with you, like subliminal messaging.

But my attraction was undeniable. And it continued. The voice didn’t last too long though. Because on February 8th, we met again, with the same group. I was slowly (ha…) becoming addicted to her. I wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day, while secretly wanting to ask her to be my Valentine. Then on the 21st, she asked me out on a date.

Well, okay, I didn’t realize it was a date until about halfway through. I should have known though, because I was so nervous. Sweaty palms, shaky voice…the whole nine yards. And that was just while I was waiting for her to come pick me up. We went to the same bar where I held the door open for her. Over beers and some bar food, we talked. She touched my arm. And I came undone. When she brought me home, my stomach was full of butterflies, and I was convinced they started a mosh pit in there.

She dropped me off at my friend’s house and I practically ran inside. I was giddy and confused and excited…and I realized I had missed an opportunity to kiss her. I didn’t admit that to her until a few days later. But by that time we had both admitted our attraction, and she assured me I would get another opportunity to do so.

And I did. And it was glorious. You know how sitcoms used to joke about a kiss by showing fireworks going off? I used to wonder what that was like. But when I kissed her, I understood. It still happens when we kiss.

She asked if I would go to a doctor’s appointment with her. It was a particularly important appointment – the appointment that decided whether or not she would start her HRT. I was deeply touched and very honored. This was a big deal. And on March 14th, we made our relationship Facebook official.

She started hormones shortly after that, and while the changes have been subtle so far, I’ve noticed them. I’ve also noticed a growing confidence as she comes out to more and more people, and these people continue to throw their support behind her. And now, she’s celebrating her first birthday as Mira, the woman I’ve seen since I’ve met her.

One of the people I met that night said that of course I saw them as they were, because that’s all I had known them as. But that’s not true. You can put on clothes and makeup and hats and look like a man or a woman, but when you look into someone’s eyes, that’s when you see who they really are…who they’re supposed to be.

And when I look at Mira, I see this beautiful woman who is taking me on this amazing journey. I constantly fall in love watching her…the way she moves and her gestures. Her soft femininity, the strength in her eyes, the way I melt when she catches me watching and she smiles at me. I’m in love. Smitten. Head over heels for her. And it’s wonderful.

That voice? Oh that voice packed its bags long ago. I’m not confused. I don’t think I ever was. I think it was a fear of falling in love again, because I’d been hurt so many times before. Because when I look at Mira, I see the same beautiful woman I held the door open for back in January. And I find myself falling in love all over again.

She’s a blogger too. And she has such a beautiful voice. I know some of you have found her. But here’s a link to her blog in case you haven’t:  She has some really incredible stories to share.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I remembered all the dates? I do have a good memory, but actually…I saved all the messages we’ve sent each other on Facebook. Every single one. Makes me smile to go back and read them.

Anyway…I love you, sweetheart. Happy Birthday!