Friday, December 5, 2014

Frowning Popes

I'm going to take a little break here from the pity party I've been throwing myself to regale you with a tale of an epic battle for women's rights. 

A few months ago, K joined a pool league at the local Knights of Columbus. Our neighbor is running it, and we thought it would be a fun Thursday night activity with cheap beer. The place looks like my childhood home's finished basement, carpeted poles and all. Also, there are lots of pictures of popes on the walls.

I am one of two women who show up to this sausage fest; the other is a wife of one of the other players. We give each other the quintessential vagina nod when we see each other. Hey, you have one, TOO! 

Last Thursday, K's team was short two players. They all take this league pretty seriously, so they were pissed that they were going to have to forfeit. Naturally, I raised my hand and offered to sub. 

Suddenly, the room started moving in slow motion as each man's eyes lit up with fear. They glanced at me in horror, then back to each other. Arms were crossed, feet shuffled. I slowly lowered my hand and glanced around the room. Did someone just walk in with a gun? 

One man spoke up: "oh, I don't know. This is a MEN'S league. We don't allow women to play."

Good thing I'd had a few beers and no fucks left to give. I put my hair up in a ponytail and turned to the guy to my right, a jolly guy who would be my first opponent. "Did you know we can even VOTE now, too?" He laughed nervously, then turned away. I could not believe what was transpiring. Was the alternative of forfeitting the game really a better option than letting a GIRL play? 

Finally, a progressive jokester and my new personal confidant, Jeff, spoke up with a courtesy laugh at my bold joke: "Listen to that! Can you hear the roof shaking?" We shared a giggle, and I turned to him with grateful eyes, thankful to have someone else recognize the ridiculousness of this situation. 

Grudgingly, I was allowed to play. The room stopped and stared as I got up from the bar to start my first game. Some people were curious, some were downright angry. The popes frowned in fury. 

In the end, I lost two games, but won the last--I have never been prouder. 

As an interesting afternote: the legitimacy of this game is still being debated by the elders. This is not a joke. They are in the process of determining whether or not to count my game... because I have a vagina. STUNNING. I bravely returned last night mostly out of curiousity. (Plus, the cheap beers.) It really is amazing who cares and who doesn't. And to be fair, there are a handful of the guys who totally back me and think it's funny, too. I like to think of them as the Frederick Douglasses to my Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

On the walk home, I turned to K. 
"Ow!" I said, rubbing my head. 
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I think I hurt my head when I jumped through that glass ceiling."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Game Genie

Apparently, people go to Walmart for two things: to punch each other over $30 TVs, and to heal relationships. My experience was, thankfully, the latter. 

We had just loaded the car with many bags of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner, which we host with both of our families each year. Happy to have made it out alive and with minimal injuries, we were driving home. I'm not even really sure how the conversation started, but we started talking about getting married/having babies, and K turned to me and said: I just have seen a change in you lately. You seem so sad and it seems like a bitterness has just settled inside of you. It's not like you to not be able to be happy for your friends. He said, I need you to know that I am ready for all of these things, marriage, babies, everything. But I'm afraid it's not going to fill the hole inside of you. I'm afraid you'll get all of those things and it won't be enough, because someone else will always have something more. He said, I want you to be happy with our life now, before we're engaged, and to be happy for our friends. Because that's what life is all about. In true nerd fashion, he likened our engagement to a video game. "It's like when you're trying to get to beat Mario 3 and you can't get past that damn warship. You try and try, so frustrated, and when you finally plug that Game Genie in and beat it, you just feel like... FINALLY. Not like... YAY!" 

I froze in my seat, unable to speak. Never in my life had someone besides my sister been able to so acutely recognize what was going on inside of me. I felt astonishment over everything else, that he was able to see what was happening to me. And everything he said was with love, not out of frustration or anger. It was with a kindness and an ability to view my heart and circumstances existentially, without bringing in his personal feelings. Which I can't imagine is an easy thing to do, when the two things I want most in this world directly involve him. 

I just looked at him, tears welling in my eyes. And for the first time I realized how my feelings have been affecting other people. It felt like someone had shined a light into my heart and exposed all of the awful feelings in there. But it was like a release occurred, and I was suddenly able to see the situation from the outside a little bit. 

We talked in depth for a few hours, and even though my face was puffy from crying, I felt hope for the first time in awhile. Not for getting married, or achieving any of these things that I've pinned my future happiness to, but for choosing the right partner who is able to see me, and help me out of this hole I've dug myself into. Which I'm sure will happen many more times for each other over the course of our lives together. And over this weekend, with both of our families in our house, I had several moments where I stopped talking and just felt a wave of overwhelming affection for everyone... and I started to feel like the old me again. I still have work to do, for sure. I see many yoga classes in my future. But I think this is a very good start. Maybe I just needed someone to recognize what I was going through, and validate it. Maybe it was just that I needed HIM to recognize and validate me. But whatever the case, I know more certainly than ever now, that I've chosen the right person for me.