Debbie and I used to live diagonally across the street from each other. We became friends when we were four years old; attended the same nursery school together then elementary school. We were very inseparable. We had the closeness of a brother and sister down to the silly fights over toys and time. It was a strange closeness and behavior given both she and I had siblings of our own. But Debbie and I were connected different.
In 1976 Debbie’s family would move away. I do vaguely remember going to the her house, some boxes in the garage, but that’s about all. I was very mad at her for moving away. I do not remember even thinking or being told it was not her fault or choice.
What I do remember was a sad day for me in 2nd grade. I walked across the hall to her classroom and gave her a goodbye letter. It was what you’d expect it to be… those old childhood “promise to keep in touch” (when it would mean actually writing letters and following through beyond the few months that is a “year” of time in the mind of a second grader).
BUT WE DID WRITE.
Debbie’s family relocated again in 1982 to Pawling, NY, what was then, a small town in “upstate” New York. Our parents would arrange drop-offs and we would spend
weekends at each others houses. We were each others “dates” at school dances and inseparable as we could be at that age and distance.
In 1985 Debbie’s family moved back down to Raleigh when her father became very ill. She then became the “girlfriend” who lived in another state.
In 1988 I came out to Debbie. Not soon after, she came out to me.
We explain simply, that as kids, we knew. We bonded with each other so closely because there was a “safety” we had, all be it why was years from being known.
To my parents, she was always another one of their “kids” (and even more so than I can explain after she came out). My dad knew when he saw Debbie visit him in the hospital room before he passed that his “fourth” child had driven 12 hours just to see him, and he knew what it meant.
Debbie and Pam drove up to see us all in the spring after my dad passed. She wanted to check up on how her family was doing.
Debbie and Pam will be together 19 years this fall! They live in a state where a marriage equality ban was recently put in place. There is still a lot of fighting to do!
Just know, dearest Debbie and Pam, you have two big brothers who will be taking on any and all challengers with you!