Marriage Project, Day 18

One of the interesting things about this story is that a traditional view of marriage is not about gender or politics. There’s room for all of us. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

I met my spouse almost fifteen years ago. Well, met is a relative
term. We first met in an IRC channel on f-net. For those of you too
young to know what I’m talking about, this was in the late 90s, the
only “popular” place to chat on-line was AOL. And then there was the
place for the true geeks, those of us who could telnet into chat

My spouse was a friend of my best friend at the time. We lived in
different cities, I in Seattle, he in El Paso. After a couple months
of constant chatting and phone conversations, I flew to El Paso and we
met in person for the first time. Then it was a year of flying back
and forth across the country ending with a cross-country move to
Seattle. Because there was no way in hell I was moving to El Paso.

It took another seven and a half years, but we were finally married.
In a big fancy church wedding, full Catholic Wedding Mass. It was, at
that point, truly the happiest day of my life. And it was perfect.
Even the snafus that every wedding has seemed perfect. I was so
overjoyed to be marrying my best friend and soul mate, I sobbed all
the way up the aisle to meet him. Seriously, the photos of that walk
need to be burned. I looked so horrible. Yet I was so totally
overwhelmed with joy.

We will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary this June. Two
months after we celebrate our daughter’s fifth birthday. It’s been
fifteen years of incredible highs and terrible lows. Divorce has been
threatened at the lowest points. We’ve been in couples and then
marriage counseling a few times. We always seem to fight for Us. Even
when it’s so shitty we just want to leave. We don’t. We have to fight
for Us.

I’m “lucky”. My soulmate is a man, and I’m a woman. I’ve always had
the privilege to be able to marry him. I never had to fight anyone for
the right to declare to God and country that he is It. That I will be
with him until our dying days. And honestly, I’m not so sure even
death would be able to separate us. When divorce is threatened around
here, it’s more of a cry of need, of needing more of each other.
Neither of us can imagine ever being with another person. If anything
ever happened to my husband, God forbid, I’m incredibly doubtful I
would ever remarry. Mostly because I don’t think another human being
could measure up to him in my eyes.

But the other reason is that marriage is HARD. I don’t think there is
another human being on the planet I would fight to be with the way he
and I have both fought to stay together. Even at the worst of times,
we’ve known in our souls and confessed in the quiet moments that we
will get through it all.

Marriage is many things. But mostly, it’s something worth fighting for
when you’ve found the right person. I never had to fight for the right
to be married, but I have fought in my own way for others who do not
have this right. When you have found that one person, the one you will
stick with even through the worst of times, the one who can bring pure
joy into your heart, the one who you know you want to be with for the
rest of your life, we should all be able to declare it to God and country and not be forced to defend the state of our soul to those filled with fear and hate.

I am so proud of my State Legislature and our Governor. Making it
possible for couples, just like my husband and me, who love each other
with all their souls, who are willing to fight to be together through
the hard times, who are so filled with joy and peace, to declare to
all what their souls are shouting.

Some think that marriage is just a contract. Just a silly piece of
paper that doesn’t mean anything substantial beyond tax benefits. I’m
not one of those people. Marriage is sacred. It’s sacred because it’s
about our individual soul joining together with another. Souls don’t
have gender. They just are. They are essence. Everyone should have the
right to join their soul with its right and proper mate, regardless of
the body that soul happens to be inhabiting.

I’m thankful that my state finally realized this and I wait, not so
patiently, for the rest of the world to realize it too.

Gwynn Robbins Raimondi
Seattle, WA

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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