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Monday, October 21, 2013

Falling in Love, Turning 70, and Getting Married


David Vargo and Me

A lot has happened this year and it’s all been terrific.  As readers of this blog may remember, for the first time in my life I decided to snowbird in Florida, leaving my Ohio home in late December (cats in the car), and moving to Wilton Manors, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, for January, February, and March.  On Saturday, January 12, I went to a event at a gay bar and this very handsome man came walking by me.  Not one to let these adventures escape, I made a funny remark to him, and he turned, gave me one of the most dazzling smiles I’ve ever seen, and made a funny remark in reply.  We’ve more or less been together ever since, first in Florida and now in Ohio.

Barney and Mama Help David Work
His name is David Vargo.  He’s a graphic designer by occupation, but his background is in theater, including acting at a professional level, and, at one point in his youth, moving to New York to study Shakespeare at the National Shakespeare Conservatory.  Born in Miami, he was raised by his adoptive parents in Fort Lauderdale and they turned him into a first class human being.  In addition to that dazzling smile he’s quick of wit, very personable, and for reasons that passeth understanding very much in love with me.  My cats, Barney and Mama, took to him right away in Florida and were delighted when he moved to Ohio to stay with me here until we can sell my condo and return to his native state.  My only concerns about our union are twofold.  He’s only 55, and initially I strongly stated that our mutual passion was to last through only a short term relationship since it would be unfair to him to saddle him with an aging partner soon to turn 70.  He protested, but I was firm . . . until late March when the April 1st deadline of my return to Ohio loomed and the wrongness of parting from him became clear.  At that point I proposed, he accepted, and we’ll see how this age difference works out as the years advance.  I do feel guilty about it and the old codger it might saddle David with.  The second trouble spot is that he was reared a Catholic and, while he isn’t devout about the strictures of the church or even attending mass often, God is very important to him.  I too was raised a Catholic (as readers of this blog may know) but I long ago reached the status of devout atheist.  How to handle this dramatic difference?  The answer so far has been to draw strict lines.  We understand each other’s beliefs (or non-beliefs), accept same, and carefully avoid talking about the differences in any critical way.  He gamely attended a meeting of atheists when we were in Florida and I reciprocated by going to one in which everyone in the room except me was a firm believer.  We’re done with that sort of exchange and now simply agree to disagree.  Since his God is central to him, I’m working hard not to use my persuasive abilities or instincts as a professional teacher to affect his beliefs in any way.

David has met my sister Mary Beth and her husband Rich (in Florida, without me being there!), and my Columbus family group has welcomed him with open arms.  Both during his visit to Columbus in May and recently with his move here, they’ve welcomed him into our circle with enthusiasm, for which we are both grateful. 


David with Mary Beth and Richard Colpitts, July 2013


One major gathering was a party for my 70th birthday.  The actual date of the birthday was September 25th of this year, but the party was held the following Saturday, September 28th.   My son and daughter-in-law flew in from Seattle, my ex-wife Charleyne and her husband John drove from Indianapolis, and other friends came from other cities to join twenty or so local celebrants.  The highlights of the evening were the showing of a DVD about my life that I’d put together, followed by the now traditional singing of the evil Big Birthday song, written by my son Clayton and myself for birthdays that end in a zero [see Related Posts below for more on that].


The First Slide in the DVD Shown at the Party
 
David and I Discuss Cutting the Huge Cake
 
Singing the Evil "Big Birthday Song"

Turning 70 is both a happy event for someone who had a heart transplant almost four years ago, making it a milestone I’m delighted have reached, but it’s also a scary birthday because of what it says about my age.  There’s no way to finesse the number “70.”  It isn’t the “new” anything (like the “new 60,” etc.).  Say it softly or with a smile or through copious tears and it’s still 70.  People who hear my age often comment that I don’t look it, but, in the words of the Big Birthday song, “they’re just being kind.” 
 
The best news is that David and I are flying to New York City next month to get married on Saturday, November 9th at the home of a friend.  The reasons for the marriage are numerous.  Of course there’s the romantic and sentimental side of a marriage, and that’s very important, but in the past I’ve avoided a marriage that would be purely symbolic.  However the Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case this past June now requires the federal government to recognize gay marriages that are valid in the state in which contracted (like New York), and that adds a legal component to the marriage that the lawyer in me thinks vital.  After we’re wed if I were to die David would get Social Security benefits, veteran benefits, etc., and in the meantime we can avoid inheritance tax issues while taking advantage of federal income tax rules favoring couples like us.  Also it’s clear (for reasons I’ve explained in prior posts) that the Supreme Court will soon have to declare that a marriage entered into in one state is valid in all states, which will then make our marriage legal in both Ohio and Florida (states not currently recognizing such marriages).
There’s a final reason for getting legally married.  In the early 80s and throughout the 90s I fought many a battle alongside many others for gay rights.  In those days it never occurred to any of us that in our lifetimes it would be possible for gays to marry and have the government recognize that marriage as equal to those of straight people.  Next month as I exchange vows with the man I love and an official authorized by the State of New York pronounces us “husband and husband,” I predict I’ll feel a thrill like few before in my life.  I want that thrill.

After the marriage takes place I’ll put up a blog post reporting if my prediction was right (and, of course, will put up a few pictures of the wedding).

 
Our Wedding Rings

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Related Posts:
"Douglas and David Get Married," December 20, 2013
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Teaching English to Cats," August 6, 2010
“Catholicism and Me (Part One),” March 13, 2010
“Catholicism and Me (Part Two),” April 18, 2010
"The Evil Big Birthday Song," November 5, 2010
"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010
"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012
“Gay Marriage, the Supreme Court, and the Future,” June 26, 2013
"A Guide to the Best of My Blog," April 29, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Doug, that was truly inspiring and I'm glad you posted it. It truly is a great thing when two people who love each other can fully commit themselves.

    - Your Fool

    ReplyDelete