By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
Our first date had been in July – the 18th to be exact. By the time we had been seeing each other (non-exclusively, however) for a month, we had had another incredible weekend at the Melissa Etheridge concert in Dallas, which included a night at the swanky Hilton Anatole Hotel downtown. The more time that I spent with her, the more time that I wanted to spend with her. I felt myself wanting to tell her those ever-important three big words, even though I also knew that it was too early to do it without freaking her out. But by the time we had been seeing each other for two months, I KNEW. I knew that she was the one for me. I knew that she was the only one that I wanted to date, wanted to spend time with, and wanted to love. The weekend that marked two months for us came around, and I found myself telling her that I loved her, not expecting anything in return. She didn’t have much of a response when I said it, and it was okay, because I knew that she was the one for me and would come around eventually. But it was that same weekend, on an afternoon when we were lying around being lazy, that she whispered the words “I love you” into my ears and my soul when she thought that I was sleeping. Later that night when I walked her to her car before we both headed home, as we were wrapped in a lingering embrace and sharing goodbye kisses, she told me that despite trying to date both me and another woman, that it was always me. This warmed me from head to toe, and I think that I partially floated home that night.
By the time we had been dating for three months, I knew that this was the woman that I wanted to spend the rest of my life waking up to every morning. Several obstructions had arisen during these first few months, including my mother questioning me about the nature of my relationship with Erikka, and then abruptly moving out upon hearing the answer to her question. My oldest son would shortly leave after my mother moved out, deciding that he needed to go and live with his dad in Ft. Worth, which was devastating to me at the time. Despite these obstacles, and despite Erikka’s offers to break things off temporarily and go back to her house, I knew that this was a make-or-break crossroads in my life. In the past, when I had attempted to “come out,” the results with friends and family had been horrible. Here I was again, faced with great amounts of conflict and ugliness from those who were supposed to love me unconditionally – but this time was going to be different. Unlike previous attempts to come out and just be ME, this time I knew that I could no longer cave to the beliefs and criticisms of anyone else, or I would face losing the woman that I loved forever. So I faced the ugliness head on, and decided that I would no longer allow anyone else to dictate my life to me based on personal biases, religion, or hatred. I asked Erikka to marry me.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and she had gone off for the day to shop with her mother. I had purchased a simple ring to give her, one that had my birthstone in it; one that, if she said yes, would be replaced with a diamond at a later date. I had been working at her house while she was shopping, trying to pack things to move so that she could sell the place. Before I knew that she would be back, I went upstairs to take a nap, putting the ring under the pillow in case she came back before I got up. Sure enough, she came home while I was asleep. When she got on the bed next to me to wake me up with sweet kisses, I rolled over and sleepily greeted her with return kisses, telling her that I had something to talk to her about. She had a nervous look on her face as I pulled out a small, white ring box and asked her to marry me. The grin that broke out was priceless, but not nearly as amazing and priceless as the moment that she said YES. I was thrilled, and I slipped the ring onto her finger for a perfect fit! I knew that I wanted to not only marry her, but I wanted to go somewhere and marry her legally. This was very important to me. We had stood together against some very ugly personal attacks, but we had also stood together for the LGBT community as well, fighting for full marriage equality for ourselves and all of those like us.
On the eve of November 4th, we were lying in bed watching the news as election results came in. I’m not sure what we were talking about, but Erikka turned to me and from out of nowhere produced a white ring box and asked me to marry her – with a simple ring that held my birthstone as well. It was so unexpected and surprising, I think I sat there for a few minutes just trying to wrap my head around it! I, of course,said yes – what else would I say?
I love looking back on moments and days like those. Despite some of the things that we have been challenged with and overcome, these memories are some of my most treasured. It was so very different with Erikka than any of my previous relationships – both with women and men. I had fallen for her so quickly, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the person for whom my heart had been searching all of my adult life. Part of me hated that it took me until I was thirty-eight years old to find her; but the other part of me knows that all of the events that had occurred up until that point were necessary in order to make me the person that I was when I met her. Had I not experienced some of the things that I had prior to that, I may not have been strong enough or confident enough in who I was and who WE were to withstand some of the storms that arose during those first six months or so. I guess me being older in age made me like a tree, weathered and strong when the storms come and try to blow me over. That may seem like a dumb analogy, but it’s what I think of when I think of us, now that we’re on the other side of those things. Was I scared at the thought of getting married again? Terrified. Was I nervous about the thought of marrying a woman and living life as the little family that we were becoming in our very Southern, very conservative red state of Texas? Absolutely.
But I knew that this was the person that had been designed for me. Her hand fit perfectly in mine. Her heart matched up with mine perfectly. Body and soul she was mine and I was hers. I no longer cared about what my family, friends, or the world at large thought about my relationship. This was my life and I was going to live it for ME, and for HER, and for my children. It was inconsequential to me that I was marrying a woman – I was engaged to the PERSON that I loved more than life itself.
[Photo Credit: doug88888]