This I Believe

Christine - Berkley, Michigan
Entered on January 15, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe…. Perfect love casts out fear.

On vacation, we visit aging relatives in a variety of living situations. Soon after, while walking around Ann Arbor, we notice the Senior Citizen High Rise advertising available apartments for those age 55 and up! That is Susan’s age! Being in my mid-40s, I hadn’t contemplated life as a senior citizen until these two events. How do we want to age? Where would we want to grow old? We live in a tiny house in a subdivision with no sidewalks and long commutes to our jobs. Everyone drives everywhere, after all, we’re an outlying suburb of the Motor City. The chic, urbane living of Ann Arbor, with its open-minded university setting and plenty of cultural advantages is a draw. The price of housing and the fact that we both would have to restart our careers is a drawback. We continued looking, pondering.

We settled on Berkley: A quiet, suburb of neighborhoods of ranch houses and sidewalks built in the 40s, with a quaint little downtown, complete with a grocery store, post office, antique malls, used book store, bank, salon, dry cleaners, restaurants, yoga place and a massage school. The senior center offers van services, for when we can no longer drive, as well as trips and programs. The house we fall in love with is just the right size: a bit bigger and recently remodeled, with a nice yard to grow flowers. It’s two blocks from the hospital where Susan already works and two miles from my private practice. We can safely walk to work, save gas and benefit our cardiac health. And several friends live nearby. Perfect!

At first we wonder: will we be accepted? Two women living together: lesbians. Are these people homophobic? We didn’t check this factor out. Did we make a mistake? For two weeks, no one talks to us. Finally, one by one, the neighbors become neighborly. We swap stories about our pets. Most have lived on this block for 20 – 60 years! I’ve moved every couple of years for the last 20, so this continuity of community amazes me. August brings the block party, complete with kids games and barbecue, conversation and fireworks. Halloween brings streams of costumed kids begging for candy. As a witch, with my black cat at my side, I dole it out.

The November election comes and goes. Michigan passes Proposal 2 defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. I fear bigotry. I ask Susan to marry me, again, believing love is the only way to banish fear. She says yes, again. This is our third ceremony: a non-legal wedding in Detroit, a Civil Union in Vermont and this time a legal (in Canada) wedding in London, Ontario. With relief, but by now not surprise, I learn that Berkley defeated Proposal 2. Our friends and neighbors rejecting fear, embracing tolerance. Perfect love casts out fear. We live in love. We live in Berkley, Michigan.