May 17th, 2004


historic moment

I was always certain that I would see legal same-sex marriage in my lifetime. And here it is. It's not quite the moment of triumph I thought it would be, because of the cloud of the possible 2006 constitutional amendment. But regardless, nothing can take away the fact that these people are married now. It's such a beautiful thing.

I'm not reacting with the visceral joy and excitement that I did to San Francisco's same-sex marriage weekend. That was amazing -- the line that stretched around City Hall, the pages and pages of wedding photos. If only I had known at the time that my aunt and her partner of 28 years, now wife of three months, were in that line, my happiness would have been complete. We drove past the building to get somewhere on one of those days, I think Sunday, and I just wanted to get out of the car and hug every single person in that line, I was so happy for them. It's not the triumph for the issue that Massachusetts is, because the legality of the SF licenses are in question but the MA licenses are definitely valid. (A surprising, but somewhat heartening, quote from an MA anti-gay marriage activist, criticizing the protests at Boston City Hall: "What's going on down there is legal, and as far as I'm concerned, give those people their happiness for the day.") But they were the first performed with the legal blessing of the county, and that's something special. There's also the surprise of it -- all I had heard was that Mayor Newsom had given his people instructions to look into the possibility, and all of a sudden here's pictures of the first same-sex marriage. It was unexpected and exciting. Massachusetts has been building up to this day for months, so getting to today is almost more of a relief than anything else.

But any way you look at it, it's still a victory. A huge victory. Now people can finally challange that damnamble "Defense of Marriage Act" with unquestionably valid marriage licenses in hand. Approximately 10 years ago, I predicted that gay marriage would be legal across the US within 15 years. I still don't know if we're on track for that timeline, but wouldn't it be beautiful if we are.

they were there for us (but only in reruns now)

Now that the finale has been over for a week and a half, I'm starting to feel the loss of Friends a little bit. I didn't get to watch the final episode until a week after it aired -- I was visiting my brother at the time and they don't watch television at all, and then I was worried that I hadn't extended the recording time enough to catch all of it, so I was waiting for A to send me the last 15 minutes on CD, and the US mail took a day and a half to get the overnight shipping here, and then it turned out that I had the whole episode after all so I waited three extra days and made A wait in line at the post office for nothing -- so I missed the communal aspects of seeing it at the same time as everyone else, and I never really got a chance to dish on the end. Today I finally got around to deleting the season pass from the TiVo, and I couldn't help but feel a little pang as I did so.

I was something of a latecomer to Friends. Except for two or three episodes I caught while visiting A, I didn't watch the show at all until the fifth season and wasn't a regular watcher until midway through Season Six. Season Five was the year that the show went into syndication, and I'd heard so much about the show that I decided I'd start watching the reruns. The local UPN affiliate showed two episodes a night -- one from the first season and one from the third. I liked it well enough to want to see the new episodes, but I didn't have cable at the time and over-air network reception in the Bay Area is abysmal. I got something like three channels and NBC was not one of them. So A would record the episodes for me and send me a tape every month or so, and I'd catch them in marathon format.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that I fell in love with the show. It was a first season episode that I caught in reruns; I think it may have been one of the first episodes that I saw, but it can't have been the very first because I already knew a fair amount about the characters. It was TOW the Blackout, when Chandler is on the phone with Monica muttering that he's trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre. After several tries she still has no idea what he's saying. When he snapped "Put Joey on the phone", I burst out laughing. When Joey understood exactly what Chandler was trying to say, I think I fell off the couch. Because that captures so perfectly a dynamic that I have with my best friend -- the shared brain phenomenon. I was reminded of the time senior year when A lost her voice for a week and did her best to communicate with us using gestures and a notepad. At every dinner that week, I was the defacto translator, because I was most likely to understand whatever it was she was trying to get across. Then I went off to spend the weekend with my boyfriend, and I found out afterwards that everyone else had a hard time understanding her. It wasn't that I'd learned her sign language -- I could just make a pretty good guess at what she was thinking based on the gestures and the topic under discussion. And we still do it. Not always, but often enough one know exactly what the other is thinking, or one of us will reply to a group email with something the other was planning to say.

So anyway, that moment in the blackout episode presented an aspect of friendship that rang very true for me. And even though the show went through its highs and lows over the next five years, I kept watching, because those moments kept coming. Not in every episode, but often enough that the friendships always seemed real to me. It was the best of shows, it was the worst of shows, but it will definitely be missed.