I've been busy this year, building an addition on our house so that I'll have my own room. And an office, and a second bathroom, and a big-ass shop/storage room where Kristin can store her harvest – row upon row of neatly labeled ball jars filled with goodies from our garden and every stray fruit tree in a 14-block radius. This means I'm working four ten-hour days at work (I love the flexibility at my job!), and spending three-day weekends working on the house. The trusses are finally up, and the roof sheathing is going on. Needless to say, not much time for blogging, hence the erratic and rare nature of my posts. It also means that Kristin has taken over almost all domestic chores, including even doubling up on watching the kids.
Yesterday, however, two events coincided to give me a day off. A day of relaxation – what a concept!
First, it was our local PRIDE day – a party not to be missed. And, second, it was the day that one of my girlfriend's daughter had a birthday party at Skate World. I don't get to see my friend often enough because of our work schedules and the different circles our children usually travel in, so that was a must-go for me, too. Bonus – B isn't Kristin's friend, and Pride isn't Kristin's thing (though she did enjoy it later on), so she got a much-deserved day without kids.
I balanced it all by taking the kids to Pride for its opening two hours, then going to the birthday party, then back to Pride where I was supposed to meet Kristin and she'd take the kids so I could help out for awhile at the Human Rights Commission table – though when I got back, the table was gone and Kristin ended up spending the rest of the time with us there.
It was a good day for the boys. They plucked free candy from nearly every bowl at the festival, and then we found the Balloon Man! An artist with balloons with a big rainbow hat made of them, he rapidly blew up and twisted long, skinny balloons into fantastic shapes. Trin got a fish on a pole, Sam a jester's hat, along with others. Other kids got an alien, or a monkey with a gun or a peeled banana. At Skate World they got to exercise their roller blades and eat a cake shaped like a hamburger; and then back to Pride where we ended up joining Kristin and going around as a family. I got to relax, chat with friends, play with my kids, and reload for another strenuous day on the roof.
Pride is an interesting event. (In the past, certain groups would come to protest – ironically, usually protesting abortion more than homosexuality. For the last two years, they didn't show up. I guess they finally put one-and-one together and got two: I can think of no female demographic less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy than lesbians. But I digress.) There are people of all ages, from tiny babies to bent old folks with walkers or wheelchairs. People of all colors – often brilliant colors dyed into hair or tattooed into skin. Camp and music and grace and vulgarity and humor and talent, and men and women holding hands and kissing their partners with freedom not found in most of society. There is a sense of freedom, joy, almost family. Here, for one day of the year, we are free to be who we are. Tomorrow, we will go back to disguising our relationships, to restraining ourselves, to modifying our behavior to deflect the sneers, the slurs, the abuse, and simply to avoid offending our neighbors, many of whom violently object to the reality of our existence – and especially to any public display of affection, no matter that they smile indulgently to see the same behavior exhibited by other-sex couples with far less monogamy and history than many of the couples at Pride share.
This is the attraction for me. It is an oasis of openness, of truth, where the stress of the need to hide is gone. Here, people do not need to indulge the social conventions that all too often oppress rather than liberate. Yet there is restraint. This is a family event. It is a chance to see that we, and our families, especially our children, are not alone, and that the people with whom we share our conditions are typically honorable, interesting, witty, fun, intelligent, often talented, and widely diverse. It is a place for peace, honesty – far more honesty than I see in most of the circles of those who condemn us – and yes, pride. We are more than okay. We are good.