Scarier Than Fiction

My name is Rebecca Alexis Radnowski, my nickname is “Alex,” and I am 28 years old. My father was African-American, and my mother was Iranian. I say “was,” because none of that matters anymore. They went to my funeral long before I went to theirs. Yes, that was cold. No, we don’t discuss it.

My husband is Dr. Gregory Doyle, who needs me to help him get out the door in the morning because he’s so scatterbrained, and will also almost certainly cure cancer. I wish I was kidding. The duality that lives in that man is exhausting. At the same time, it’s kind of awesome that at first when people hear that “Gregory and Alex are coming,” they picture stylish glasses and small dogs. (I love gay people, and in a way, I’m sad I didn’t turn out to be a lesbian. I felt better about it when I realized that I did not have to be a lesbian to empathize and support one. It seems so cliche, but one of my best friends really is a lesbian. My heart bleeds for my gay friends, only because this is a thing that never should have been a thing in the first place.)

As for my actual love life, Gregory and I met at a sci-fi convention and connected because we were both the same level of weird. Neither one of us was dressed up, and neither one of us was carrying anything except an amused-yet-terrified expression. We spent the day together, wandering through layers of humanity unthought of by God, and gave thanks that we each had an ally in the best sense of the word… a hand to grab so the crowd wouldn’t swallow me as much as I wanted to swallow him… whole, completely, without reservation…. and that was ten years ago. We worked so well on the first day that we decided, “why stop now?”

For some people, love creeps up like a plant straining toward the sun. For others, it is a proton rubbing directly against an electron. It was right from the first collision, because we are each stronger when we pool our resources than trying to go it alone. I thought when I got married that I would have to give away my strength. I didn’t realize that marriage wasn’t supposed to *take away* anything. That I was missing out on the gift. I had to realize that I wasn’t longing to be owned. I was longing for a companion.

Gregory swept me off my feet with his mix of oddity and charm. For instance, there’s the name thing. Don’t call him Greg. He won’t tell you he doesn’t like it, he’ll just save it up after you leave and yell at me inappropriately. I don’t mean that he’s mad at me personally. He’s just yelling in my direction, which is understandable and also annoying. Sometimes I want to smother my husband with a pillow in his sleep to collect the insurance money. I wonder every day about my skill level and whether I’m good enough to get away with it. Because the only way you really know that you love someone is that these fantasies are what give you the strength to work on your relationship for another day. I keep telling myself that every time I mentally cut off his penis and throw it in the trash can when he forgets to set the coffee pot to go off at 5 AM. Hell hath no fury like a woman forced to walk to the kitchen to press the “on” button and wait for sustenance. Dear me. “This is coffee, not NAM. There are rules.”

At the same time that Gregory is snippy about his name, he is also one of the most loving men I’ve ever seen. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then video is worth millions. His brother-in-law died in a car accident a few months ago, leaving his sister stranded a week before Lamaze. Of course they were both overwhelmed in their grief, but there were also logical considerations. She couldn’t just not go because her partner was dead. I watched my husband stand up. His eyes flashed, and he became a co-parent in an instant. Gregory and Leila (his sister) named the baby “Kermit,” because neither of them were religious and the only thing that consistently brought them to their knees spiritually was the Sesame Street News reporter singing The Rainbow Connection.

Leila and I have come a long way over time. I really had to sit with how I felt about her, because even though their relationship was not and could not ever be sexual, I still felt threatened. I did not necessarily want to get pregnant as well, but I knew that I was losing my husband’s time and I felt sad about it. I was trapped between knowing he couldn’t be there for me right now because Leila was taking up his time out of necessity, not greed… and knowing that just because he was gone out of necessity didn’t mean there wasn’t room for me to have feelings about it. I finally confronted him, and I’ll never forget how he did it, because it was one of the kindest ways I’ve ever seen anyone set a boundary. I hope that when I have to say something this emotionally charged, I can do it with this much grace. He said:

I am so sorry that you need more than I can give right now, but know that you do not have to be jealous. Eventually, there’s going to be a time when you need Leila in the same desperate way, and she and I will come running toward your danger, too.

There it is. Boom. I knew I was being an asshole, and instead of stuffing everything in and taking my complete bullshit, he opened his heart wider and offered me more love, not anger that I “wasn’t cool with everything.” Instead of continuing to need him, I threw myself into things that encouraged my creativity. The aforementioned lesbian friend (nicknamed Daria because she’s not out to anyone) and I became companions. It worked out rather nicely, actually, because I had all the fun of marriage without the pressure to ever have sex. If you don’t have a lesbian friend, get one. They’re so different than my straight girlfriends, because when we get together I can wear whatever I want, drink whatever I want, smoke whatever I want, and there is no snippiness later. It’s as easy as hanging out with dudes, because dudes forget shit and move on. If you do that shit in front of straight women, they’ll remind you of your behavior at least every chance they get for the first ten years, and then annually until you die. Women do not live on bread alone. Gossip just about covers it, though.

Wow, that was snarky. Not all straight women are like that, and sometimes lesbians are worse. I mean, what is more dramatic than the epic bar fight that occurs when two women love the same woman? It is vicious, and there are often scars because there is more emotional attraction to a one night stand than can ever be handled appropriately, because women aren’t typically wired that way in the first place. Lesbian marriage is a poker game of emotion, and you can tell what’s up by how things go down (as it were). With marriage, though, when it’s good… you know. You never want to leave that person’s side, because you can’t live happily ever after without the other half of your stories.

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And that is the beginning of my first thriller. Stay tuned.

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