Tales of a wandering lesbian

Everything but the kitchen chair

These last couple of months have been packed full of life lessons for me. Perhaps the most astounding set of lessons has come from my break-up and friendship with Leigh.

You know the joke about the lesbian second date? Here it is for all the noobs. “What does a lesbian bring to a second date?” You ready for it? “A U-Haul.” (When Leigh and I got together, my mom asked me if I’d brought the U-Haul. Awesome.)

It’s almost as cliche to say that all lesbians stay friends after they break up. I know it’s not true, but sometimes it feels that way. The emotional appeal of staying friends with someone you’ve been close to is strong for two women. I’m not sure, however, that very many take it to the level that Leigh and I have.

After we tried out a traditional break-up (I said I was leaving, Leigh packed my clothes and a kitchen chair – yes a kitchen chair – into suitcases) we had a good long cry and a good long laugh. Then we talked about how important we are to each other, and how much both of us want to make sure that our friendship comes out on the other side, at least as strong as it was before the break-up. We talked about the logistics of who would live where, and for how long, and started through the process of dividing the possessions that we’d merged.

We also did what any other 21st century couple would do: we created a facebook page. We’d seen friends go through tough break-ups and we didn’t want our friends taking sides, feeling awkward (we kept that honor for ourselves), or wondering what was going on. It also helped us start the difficult conversation about what we were going through.

When we got together, we paid a great deal of attention to the practical aspects of being together. We’d known each other for a couple of years and been good friends for about a year. The night we finally got together, Leigh and I spent four hours talking about how much we liked each other, how getting together could change our friendship, and even what a break-up would look like – nobody said anything about kitchen chairs. Only then did we move forward. (We’re both lawyers, so it’s remarkable we didn’t sign contracts that night.)

Our break-up, has given us the opportunity to try something new – to tread a different path from the one we mapped out the night we got together. One of the greatest parts of our relationship has shown itself, ironically, in our break-up.

I live in Leigh’s house. It was our home, but it’s Leigh’s house. While many women might have told me I had to pack my shit and leave, and I might have left and not looked back, Leigh and I have been able to show each other a level of love and respect – and to be gentle with each other in a way we didn’t quite manage when we were together. I’m not sure if it’s because of the new life perspective I have, or the fact that I’m leaving, or Leigh’s new prescription, but I’m very grateful for it.

It’s been about three months since we created the facebook page. I’ve lived at Leigh’s that entire time, selling my house, quitting my job, moving my things to storage. I feel closer to her than ever, though I know that the break-up was the right thing. It’s given me a clear view of what it is I’m leaving behind, and an even clearer view of why I want to keep Leigh in my life. She’s important to me, and I’m very happy that we’ve been able to navigate our relationship and its ending the way we have.

I’m not saying it’s been easy – it hasn’t. It is unbelievably difficult to see someone I care about hurting because of decisions I’ve made – every day – and then to try to comfort her. I’m not saying this could work for everyone. We weren’t always sure it would work for me to stay in the house until I left, but we’ve communicated the entire time, the best we could, and we’ve kept each other informed about our feelings and our plans. We see each other as family, which means we plan to be in each other’s lives for a long, long time, and we want the best for each other.

I’m incredibly proud of Leigh. She’s branching out and lightening-up, and she’s pursuing her dream of being a photographer. (She’s really good.) I know she’s proud of me – even if she doesn’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing.

I don’t know what will happen for either of us when I leave. There have been plenty of tears shed. We’ve both had our good and bad days. Even on the worst days, it’s been an inexplicable comfort to be able to walk through the house and get a hug from Leigh. She’s my best friend. After six years, she knows me better than almost anyone. I think about how fortunate I am every day to have her in my life. I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s not near me, and I know we’re better when we’re not together. That’s a hard place to be sometimes. But, hard places teach lessons.

So, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned how important it is to be honest and up-front with those I love. I’ve learned that there is room for creativity in most everything – even in break-ups. I’ve learned that love isn’t necessarily enough to sustain the relationship I want, but it is enough to allow me to discover what type of relationship is sustainable.

The last three months have been full of lessons and of gifts. I hope that, as I move through my life, I can be as kind to others as Leigh has been to me, and that I remember how important it is to treat those I love with respect, even when I find myself in uncomfortable positions.

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1 big mama { 09.13.09 at 8:07 pm }

Oh my, once again we start with a chuckle and end with a bucket of tears. How wonderful you have someone like Leigh in your life and she to have you in hers.

2 Michele { 09.14.09 at 11:12 am }

Wonderful lessons, wonderful women. And what a wonderful world we’d have if we could all practice being so kind and present with each other.

3 Brandi { 09.17.09 at 7:51 pm }