The Sig Fig and I have had some conversations about how, at a certain point in one’s life, the world “girlfriend” seems sort of inappropriate. I mean, doesn’t it? It’s sort of a young word, something that brings teenage relationships to mind. (Also I’ve always found it awkward that women over a certain age tend to use “girlfriend” to mean “female friend.” It leads to me wondering if women are gay when they clearly are not.)
And before the whole homos-can-marry-in-select-states thing came up, it was always a question of what you could possibly call your significant other. Partner? Very law firmish. Spouse? Still awkward, even if now it’s a legal reality.
The possibilities I hadn’t considered until recently, however, are “friend” and “roommate.”
Last Thanksgiving when I was with my parents, I noticed that in mixed company my father kept referring to a friend of mine. A very interesting friend, apparently, who just kept popping up in stories. And I was honestly confused for a while–who could he be talking about? My dad hasn’t met a whole lot of my friends, and he doesn’t really know any of them well enough to be telling stories about them.
And then, of course, it dawned on me: he was referring to none other than the Sig Fig.
The same-ish thing happened to me on my recent visit, when I was telling some friends of theirs that I’d just moved in with my girlfriend. A little bit later, one of them mentioned to his daughter that my “roommate” has a greyhound.
At first (and a little bit still, I guess) I was pretty miffed. No one has a problem referring to my brother’s girlfriend as such. It’s not rubbing anything in anyone’s face to acknowledge that I live with my girlfriend. And I’m not trying to engage these people in conversations about same-sex marriage or whether sex toys should be legal or anything like that. I just want a simple acknowledgment that I have a normal, healthy relationship, and I’m not ashamed of it.
And then I went to Oregon for a few days.
My mother was staying with a very good friend of hers who happens to be religious. Now, I’ve known this woman since I was quite small–she actually used to come to Grandparents Day with me in elementary school, because my grandparents would never have come–and she’s a lovely person. Compassionate, loving, all that. But she asked about where I was living, and I said… I live with a roommate.
It was a split-second decision. It just came out. I realized afterward that it was probably the right decision, too. This is someone I see very rarely. She’s not blind, of course–I’ve looked like a lesbian forever–and she’s not stupid, either. But she also doesn’t really need to know about that part of my life. It’s the same way I feel about my grandfather. I don’t have any reason to believe he’d react poorly if he knew, but I also don’t really have any reason to tell him.
This is where the grand point should go. But I don’t have one, so you’ll all just have to deal.