I’m continually amazed at how wonderfully, yet unexpectedly, my life has played out. When I was a kid, I thought success in life, love, and career would be immediate and noteworthy, with the ensuing years spent merely enjoying the riches those achievements would inspire. Instead, on the day I turned thirty, I checked my then-partner into the hospital, where he would die from AIDS just two weeks later. My next relationship, I told myself, was “the one,” a reward for all the pain and heartache I’d endured, but it proved to be anything but, challenging me in a myriad of ways.
I’d always believed that if you were a good person, good things would automatically happen, but given how off-script my life was playing out, I began to think otherwise. The dissolution of that last relationship, however, did leave me with one source of pure, unimaginable joy: a son Mason, just a year and a half old. Providing for him kept me moving forward, day by day, sanity intact, until I once again began to feel a sense of purpose and contentment.
Only then, in that state, 12 years ago did I meet my partner, Russ Noe. When we first connected, we were not at all what the other had pictured as their “ideal match.” We were so unalike, we initially viewed those elements as opposites, instead of as the complementary factors we’ve learned them to be. Indeed, as the years progress, it is exactly those differences which keep us focused, committed, and thriving.
Today, I’m so happy that my childhood dreams never came to pass. While I’ve experienced my share of pain, that has in turn made me a better, more nuanced person, and also inadvertently lead to me becoming a writer later in life, which—again—I’d never envisioned.
At a time when others are beginning to retire, my life is just getting started… After all, it wasn’t until I was 38 that I ran my first marathon. It wasn’t until I was 46 that I became a published author. It wasn’t until I was 47 that an article I wrote got almost 200,000 likes on Facebook and spawned a meme. And when I’m finally able to legally marry my beloved Russ, I will be 49.
Yes, I’m gay, and yes, I’m becoming gray, but my life continues to just get better and better. It does get better, after all.