By Trey Darnell
Matthew and I matched with a wonderful expecting couple more than a month ago. The time had come for us to travel west and meet them. This past Thursday we said goodbye to our cats and flew to Texas. Our flight arrived in Dallas, and we rented a car to complete a three-hour drive to Abilene, Texas. I am sure most of you are aware of our love of In-N-Out Burger. Driving through Dallas-Forth Worth, we spotted several locations, but we did not stop. We were on a tight schedule and needed to be in Abilene for our match meeting early that afternoon.
To be truly honest, Matthew and I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this meeting. It seemed to escalate while driving to Abilene. A counselor from our agency, Independent Adoption Center, would facilitate the meeting. This would be the first time that we would meet the expecting mother and father. We were overly excited and nervous to meet both of them. The moments leading up to the meeting felt like a first date. We had built a foundation of communication over the past several weeks and now it was time to meet each other.
Our counselor had reserved the children’s activity room at the Abilene Public Library Mockingbird Branch for everyone to get together and participate in the match meeting. There was not much about this exceptionally large room that indicated children or activity. It was full of six-foot tables and chairs. It did not have that small quaint feeling that we hoped for. We picked a table in the middle of the room and allowed our anticipation and nerves to build even more. We heard a library representative say, “The activity room is located in the back”. We stopped breathing.
Matthew quickly stated what I think we all were feeling. “I know we are all extremely nervous”. The ice had been broken. Questions were posed to both couples and with each one it seemed to get more and more comfortable. Thirty minutes quickly turned into an hour and a half. During this time, we learned about the expecting mother and father as individuals and as a couple. Looking back on the match meeting, all the anxiety left as we said goodbye to the counselor and began our weekend in Abilene. I am thankful for the anxieties as it allowed us to be aware of this truly memorable moment and prepare us for the spectacular time we would have the rest of the weekend
Over the next few days, we were welcomed into this energetic, funny and loving family. We were able to spend time with parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins. Each and every one of them made an extra effort to spend time with us and show their support for us as a couple and potential adoptive parents of their future daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. We told stories and listened to stories. Needless to say, some were embarrassing. We learned about them, and they learned about us. We laughed a lot. Family members commuted from hours away, and everyone made sure they had ample time away from work to meet and support the mother and father and Matthew and I. We felt so welcome and loved by this family, and we are extremely excited to merge them with ours.
The final night was marked by an epic family barbeque Texas style. Many hours went into the preparation of the BBQ. Cloth napkins, table decorations, a T-Rex and a roadrunner. The menu was overloaded with superb food. The menu included brisket, baby back ribs, sausage, green peppers stuffed with cream cheese wrapped in bacon and then grilled to perfection. This evening was certainly a celebration, a family celebration that we were a part of. There was not a better way to end our visit to Abilene than enjoying each other’s company after a terrific Texas BBQ.
I have to say it was a little emotional to say goodbye to everyone that night. Over the previous three days, we felt as if we were a part of their family. We know that this goodbye is only for a short period of time because in just 16 weeks baby T-Rex makes her arrival. We are extremely excited for what the future holds for our entire family, which has now grown much larger. We have already started talking about future family vacations.
Oh, we did stop at In-N-Out on our way back to Dallas before flying home to Tennessee.
By – Trey Darnell
A very hot topic for individuals going through the adoption process is what to do about the nursery. Get the nursery ready? Wait until being matched? Wait until the baby is home? Will working on the nursery jinx adopting? What if it is a boy? What if it is a girl? Why are there so many questions?
There are many people that have told us not to worry about the nursery until after the baby comes. A common theme is family would have everything ready when you return home with the new baby. No offense to our family, but Matthew and I looked at each other and quickly determined that we wanted to work on the nursery during our wait and make it exactly what we wanted. Being able to walk into what has transformed from an empty room into what will one day be filled with rocking, changing diapers, feeding, laughter, crying and a little spit up, we could not be any happier. Would you like to see the result?
Colors – Choosing a neutral color usually means picking a shade of green, tan or yellow. In my opinion, there is nothing exciting about any of those. Matthew and I are fond of the color gray, and when all else fails, it is the color of choice. Valspar’s Colonial Woodlawn Gray has the record of our go to color. Our two favorite colors are gray and white. So it would be easy to guess that the nursery furniture color would be white.
Glider – The glider is by far my favorite piece of furniture in the room. From the very first moment we talked about growing our family, we would visit Pottery Barn Kids and relax in the various rockers and gliders. In the process of constructing the nursery, we have easily tested over 50 different rocker/glider combinations. Nothing ever seemed perfect. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, the first stop was not to In-N-Out Burger (surprising I know) but rather to Pottery Barn Kids. We vetted all of the options available and shared our adoption story to the staff and everyone helped in making the choice. What an excellent decision it was? Looking back, we should have gotten two.
Crib – The crib was also a result of the visit to Pottery Barn Kids. We had looked at various different baby and furniture stores locally. Everything was exceptionally specific to gender or a certain traditional style. Pottery Barn Kids had that special crib that matched the color, look and style that we had pictured.
Bookcases & Dresser – The bookcases are a neat feature of the room and hold a little personal sentiment. They are identical bookcases from Ikea with a twist. Instead of using the particleboard backing, we repurposed twenty year-old lumber that belonged to my parents. This completely changed the look of the bookcases. With the addition of a little lighting it helped finish the room, once bolted to the wall.
Accents – The accents in the room are neutral and have a variety of different textures. The side table next to the glider is a repurposed telephone pole. We have children’s books that Matthew and I both read in our childhood. We also added books that help show the positive message of adoption and having same-sex parents. Birds have become a popular theme in the room. Maybe it has to do with my love of flight. There are two accent pieces that will have a new color once we know the sex of the baby. A baby boy would produce the color blue, and if a little girl we would repaint purple.
The nursery has become my favorite room in the house. I used to think of the nursery from Father of the Bride II. It was beautiful, soft and warm. I could be biased, but our nursery has all of those feelings and then some. There are days that the door to the nursery is open, and we sit and enjoy what will be. There are days the door remains closed. As I mentioned in the last blog, we are expecting a little one in late summer. This is an exciting time for us and allows us to add the pops of color to match the gender of baby T-Rex.
To see other photos showing the creation of the nursery visit our Pinterest at pinterest.com/mattandtrey
I originally had something else planned to share today, but chose to share something different with all of you. Matthew and I have debated what we want to share as well as to what extent. We began our adoption process in August 2012 and became a “live” waiting family December 17, 2012. We just reached the four-month mark as a waiting family.
In my first post with The Next Family, I shared our excitement and sense of optimism after seeing the number of same-sex families that have matched and placed with the Independent Adoption Center (IAC). The Atlanta, Georgia office has two different bulletin boards. One of the boards portrays the brochures of waiting families that have matched and the other shows the brochures of families that have placed along with a picture of the new addition. The number of same-sex families that appeared on both of these boards was inspiring to Matthew and me.
This past week I received a photo from our counselor located in our agency’s Atlanta, Georgia office. The picture also included this message. “Thought you might enjoy seeing your letter on the match board.”
The past two weeks of our adoption journey have been filled with so much excitement. This picture prompted so much emotion for both of us. We struggled with just the imagination of our letter making it onto the board. This was a special morning for us and for her to take the time to send us the picture helped us both realize that this was actually happening. In this case, pictures speak just as loud as words. Matthew and I have matched with an amazing expecting mother. We will share more in the future as we await the arrival of baby “T-Rex” in late summer.
We decided we wanted to share this with all of you. We will share the blog that was supposed to post today “A Shade of Gray” next time.
By: Joey Uva
Grace just turned seven last week. It’s hard to believe how fast the years have gone. We’ve been through good times, challenges, great times, and hard times but none of that has been able to stop the hand of time.
It has been said that every seven years begins a new cycle within one’s lifetime, and that every cell in your body changes within a seven-year period. The first seven years of life are said to be the foundation for growth and change, where language, concepts, structure, ideas, instincts of hunger, and the need for love and protection are developed. The first seven years of life set us up for the next seven-year cycle.
Grace is now entering the second seven years of her life; lots of changes are on the horizon. The second seven years of life are considered the cycle of continuous growth. The development of a sense of right and wrong and social responsibility starts to really develop. We broaden in our experiences and test our abilities of the outside world, much different than our previous inner world development. The beginning of new maturity approaches as we start to reach puberty and adolescence. We grow physically and physiologically. It is said that the habits learned in the first seven years of life are now part of the character of the growing child.
Grace is changing. She’s more independent, she knows her likes and dislikes and is beginning to develop more self confidence. I know she’ll mature and grow and this I hope I am ready for. This is a new cycle for me too. I have a new experience in life to be had along with her. I pray the habits she takes with her as she grows into adolescence are good ones. I pray that she becomes a responsible, socially conscience and empathetic person as she enters into this new phase of life.
Our daughter is no longer the little girl we knew at three, four, or five. She is changing and growing. She makes me proud to be a father and my love for her will be here for all the change yet to come.
By: Ted Peterson
“What do you want for Christmas?” Santa asked as he gave Mikey a lollipop.
“This?” Mikey answered, referencing the sweet.
“No, I mean what else, besides the lollipop?” Santa replied, with a ho ho ho.
“A Christmas tree for Jimmy, and one for Evan, and one for Bryan,” he said, rattling off three of his best friends at preschool.
“That’s very nice,” the fat man chuckled. “But what can I get for you, little boy?”
“Oh, nothing,” said Mikey.
We have an unvicious circle with our son. If you captured any one moment of his life out of context, you would think he was either horribly spoiled or almost saintly in his altruism, but the truth is a little of both. He gets pretty much anything he wants, and he shares it all, anytime of year, holidays or not.
I myself was raised on a similar philosophy. One of our family stories has my grandfather calling my mom from a toy store, asking what he should do –I was crying about some toy.
“Here’s what I would do,” my mom said. “Buy it.”
Kids are grabby, greedy little things, but their needs for toys, for stimulation, for something to spark imagination and laughter, is as pure as rain water. People talk about education and play as if they’re two different things, but in a child, they aren’t. I am not going to deny my son anything that I would have fun playing with him, and I’m not going to apologize for it either. He knows the word “no” not because we say it all the time, but because we say it rarely, and when we do, we mean it.
Last weekend, we were going to my brother’s house for a holiday party, and Mikey wanted to bring along a beloved wind-up chick he had been playing with. He left it in the diaper bag because there were other toys to play with, and as we were leaving, he asked my brother if he could have one of the small containers of Playdoh.
When he was told he could, he ran to his diaper bag and gave up his wind-up chick in exchange. I wouldn’t have asked him to do this in exchange for a gift. It just seemed fair to him.
For some reason, Mikey’s been empathetic for as long as we can remember. He runs to help when he hears another kid crying, he loves to share, and when he is faced with a baby or an animal, he always assures everyone he will be gentle before he touches them. At his preschool’s holiday show, he stood immobile at the front of the stage with the other three-year-olds, occasionally mouthing the words, occasionally waving to the audience, acting just the same as the rest his age. Then at the end of “Feliz Navidad,” he looked at the boy closest to him, and decided that he needed reindeer antlers. Jimmy started to object when Mikey took off his own antler hat and put it on him, but he realized resistance was futile. He gave his friend a high five in return.
So, what do you get the kid who has it all, who just wants to share and do things for other people?
Mikey has his own idea he came up with after he told Santa that he only wanted Christmas trees for his friends. He was looking at the Christmas card from my cousin’s family who is expecting their third child. I pointed to the mother’s belly and the expression on her daughter’s face, and said, “It looks like she’s saying ‘Look, that’s my baby brother in there.’”
“Oh,” said Mikey, frowning and studying the card more. “Can I have a little brother too?”
Probably not for Christmas, kid, but we’ll see.
By: Ted Peterson
We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of adopting Mikey, which is a pretty significant milestone. We’ve come a long way in twelve months since the judge said that we are his forever parents, Ian and I.
I’m Daddy and my partner Ian is Papa. We’ve been that from pretty much the first day when Mikey entered our home. Shortly after we started fostering him, we heard from some friends who are also gay fathers that they wished they had set up parental names, because they went by “Daddy Charles” and “Daddy Andrew”, until their son was old enough and decided to drop the “Daddy” and dubbed them simply “Charles” and “Andrew”. Obviously some casual parents like being on a first-name basis with their heirs, but not Charles and Andrew.
While everyone knows how it works with an opposite-sex couple -“Mommy” and “Daddy” -it takes a while for the friendliest of folks to know what terms to use. At preschool, Mikey will be in the playground when Ian arrives to pick him up:
“Mikey!” cries his four-year-old friend. “It’s your daddy!”
Mikey looks out and says, “No, it’s my papa!”
Bless his heart, but the man I promised to love, honor, and point out his foibles in a loving way, can never get our names right. Right now as I’m typing this, I can hear him putting Mikey down to sleep, saying, “Okay, now, give Daddy a kiss and say goodnight.”
Mikey, who already gave me a kiss, says, “No, I give Papa a kiss and say goodnight. You are Papa.”
Our names merge into a hypenate. The Papa-Daddies together drive Mikey to school. Mikey has chocolate milk while the Papa-Daddies have wine. There is Mikey’s bed, and there is the Papa-Daddies’ bed. This hybrid-sharing creature we’ve become is not the ideal when Mikey wants two individuals with their own stuff. He is very concerned with possessives right now, always wants to know who owns certain things. When I’m wearing Papa’s shirt, or Ian’s driving Daddy’s car, Mikey wants to make sure we’re still aware of the order of the universe, who owns what.
“That’s my medicine!” cried Mikey while he was in his bedroom with Ian, grabbing some old tubes of ointments for occasional rashes.
Anticipating a disagreement before it even happened, Mikey ran down to see me to ask whose medicine they were.
“They’re your medicine, but only Daddy or Papa is allowed to touch them and use them on you. You don’t use them yourself because it would be very dangerous.”
“My medicine, but only for grown-ups?” Mikey asked.
“Well,” said Mikey, thinking it over. That’s a pretty complicated thing to grasp, that something is yours but you can’t use it. “Okay.”
“Very good,” I say. “Go bring it back to Daddy.”
“I go bring it back to Papa,” he says. “You’re Daddy.”
By: Carol Rood
I have been in a relationship with my lovely Bluebell for 7 years. We are very open about being together, yet we do not announce it to everyone we meet at the first meeting. We feel as though being together is just a part of who we are, not the sum of who we are.
Because, in addition to being a person in a relationship with a woman, I am also a mom to 3 boys, a step mom to a boy and a girl, a college student, a worker, a retired Navy person, etc. Think about it this way, when you meet someone for the first time, they don’t say, “Hi my name is Jane and I am a heterosexual woman who is married to Tom.” With that in mind, I don’t need to say, “Hi, I am Carol and I am a lesbian in a relationship with Bluebell.” Besides the fact that I am more than just that, many people are bigoted and I like to get to know people before I tell them my personal life.
I have always believed that if I meet someone who becomes my friend (or at least has a friendly relationship with me) before knowing my relationship status, but then changes their opinion of me and no longer likes me once they find out, it tells me their character (or lack therof). Those are people I don’t want to be friends with anyway, so I move on.
Once I tell them about my relationship status I get various responses. Most people say, “Oh, that doesn’t bother me. I have a friend, hairdresser, cousin, (fill in the blank) who is gay. I am cool with that.” Sometimes I just get a “That is fine with me.” But the ones I like the best are the people who I tell, and then I can actually see the mental processing taking place.
I will be having a conversation with someone and I will nonchalantly say something like, “Yes, my partner said the same thing the other day.” You can actually see their brain whirring, and almost see the thought bubble over their head as they realize I said “partner” and what that means. Then they blink and respond. This whole process usually takes about 1-2 seconds, but it is always obvious. It makes me smile every time.
Recently I was talking to my 14-year-old son’s girlfriend’s mother. Zack and R were going to an event and I was telling R’s mom that Bluebell would be picking up the kids. I said, “I have a meeting, so my partner will be picking up the kids.” Zack and R have been dating for over a year. I have talked to R’s mother many times. I guess I had never before that time used the word “partner”. The minute I used that word, I saw the mental process taking place. As I watched that happen, time slowed down, (just like in the movies), and I held my breath. In that split second of watching her process, lots of thoughts went running through my head. What if she doesn’t like gay people? What if she won’t let R date Zack anymore because his mom is gay? What if she doesn’t want her daughter around gay people? I mean who knows really? The nicest people you meet may be prejudiced. You don’t know until they make themselves known by saying something or doing something that shows their prejudice. After a couple of seconds, R’s mother completed her processing, blinked and said, “Ok, no problem.”
And then she smiled! Whew…crisis averted. R’s mom is okay with me and now I won’t be the cause of heartbreak for my kid! My heart stopped beating staccato.
Our kids are growing up. I am sure that was just the first of many more “unveilings” in our (and their) futures. I can only hope that all the other parents will be as open minded as R’s mother.
By: Heather Somaini
I’ve been thinking lately about people. Our people specifically. We have people in our lives that we rely on in varying degrees. We have a small inner circle of family and friends that are our constants, the ones that we keep very close. From there, the circles get bigger and expand to include all the other people that we spend time with.
But one day we had kids and everything changed. Our family stayed in the same circle, clearly they had to – they’re FAMILY. I started to see our friends in different groups – friends with kids, friends without kids, gay friends with kids, gay friends without kids, single friends and friends in relationships. The list went on and on. There was always a disconnect between what we were doing and what our friends were doing. Something easy to point at but difficult to fully appreciate.
Soon we were spending time on Saturdays with new friends who all had twins. These people were necessary. They understood what we were going through right then. We all spoke the same twin-dom language that everyone else misunderstood. Our problems were the same. Our highs and lows were similar. The time we spent with friends without kids dwindled immediately.
Two years later, we found ourselves spending a lot of time with the parents at our kids’ pre-school. Their kids were the same age as ours; we were learning the ins and outs of the pre-school together and tackling the challenges of our own kids realizing there are rules out there in the world. We all banded together and I realized we were spending less time with our twin friends. These new pre-school parents seemed to fit better for some reason.
Of course more time has passed and our friend configuration seems to have adjusted again but this time I’m seeing a real pattern. I’m realizing that none of these groups in their entirety works for our family. They all come with their pros and cons. The people I’m finding we are more and more drawn to fall into a very particular category – they’ve all had some sort of struggle, just like us. I’m going to call it “my kind of weird” which seems really terrible at first but I use the term affectionately because I think I’m weird too.
I called my mom this weekend and asked her when she realized I was a little different (or weird). I wasn’t necessarily different because I was gay, I had no idea back then. But instead I think my thought process was different, I read different books than the other kids and I was interested in music from my parents’ generation, like the Beatles and Elvis. My mom says I wasn’t different, but then in that New England sense of humor she said “No, I didn’t think you were weird because for an entire year when you were 10 you refused to go out without your blue baseball hat and blue sweater. No, you weren’t weird at all. Or that you always had your nose in a book or headphones on. I didn’t think you were weird when the only dress you ever wore was to your Junior Prom and then your brother wore it in a show two years later. No, there was nothing weird about you guys at all.” Ya gotta love Mom.
I’m realizing that my struggles, my “weird”, has made me who I am and it makes me very much appreciate it in others. Struggle gives us a different perspective on life and compassion for the human condition. I’m happy that in the past year we had our first real challenge with one of our kids because it’s given me the skill set to handle the next one. The people that are closest to us right now have also had challenges. They’re going through divorce, loss, medical and developmental challenges. They are rebuilding their careers, rehabilitating their personal lives, and nurturing their children.
They’re struggling just like me. They’re my kind of weird.
Coming through a challenging pregnancy, birth, and recovery for everyone created new people in all of us. We took away a few tricky qualities that we’re still working on, but overall both Tere and I came away with a new sense of appreciation and gratitude that we hadn’t understood before. It was a tough lesson to learn under very difficult situations but we eventually got it. If there is anything I try to encourage for new parents or anyone undertaking large change in their life, it’s patience, because in time all things become clear.
I read once that great CEO’s have a keen knack for knowing when to make a decision. It’s all about time and information. If they wait until they have all the information they need, the time to decide has passed. If they rush a decision without enough information, the odds of making the wrong choice are high. So the key is to wait, gather just enough information, and act at exactly the right moment when these two worlds meet. I think there is a good bit of “art” to it. Patience.
I saw something once where this guy gives away “gratitude rocks” which you’re supposed to carry in your pocket so that every time you touched it, it would remind you to be grateful for all that you have. This is a tricky lesson. In our 21st century, high-tech world, we are all moving at great speeds climbing the corporate ladder in our ever quest for more. More of what –I’m not sure, but we all want more. We had a great evening last Sunday at our house when a young singer-songwriter came to do a mini-set for our friends. We had lots of food, everyone loved the music and I poured lots of wine. It was a lovely evening. One of our friends found Tere and me in the kitchen to tell us how important we were to her. She took each of our heads in her hand, pushed all three of our heads together and leaned in close to tell us that we were loved. Right then, I was grateful for all the people in my life that support me every day even if I don’t see them. Gratitude.
For us, patience and gratitude produced a need to give. We realized quickly that there were lots of people around us that gave of their time, their expertise, their love and somehow we needed to give back. We loved going back to the hospital to visit the nurses who took care of Tere while she was on bed rest and soon they asked if we would talk to a patient. We agreed and soon we were visiting a number of soon-to-be moms, all on bed rest at Cedars-Sinai’s Maternal Fetal Care Unit. We met some great women and I hope we inspired them to tough it out through those agonizing months of nothing but online shopping, hospital food, and constant wake-ups to be poked and prodded. We’ve even stayed very much in touch with one family now with twin boys living in San Diego. In fact, our son Free pretty much peed all over their house on one visit as we were beginning to potty train. Oy!
My point is that sometimes the best way to get what we need from the world when we need it most, is to give. When we’re stressed beyond belief and think we have no more energy, give. When our patience is thin and we want to hide, give. When I’m angry and want to have a pity party of one, give. When the world is spinning and feels ready to cave in, give.
I hear it comes back tenfold.
By: Heather Somaini
I was with my family this past weekend for the 4th of July – hopefully you were with yours. On the way home as I watched our babies sleep on the plane, I started to think about how much I miss my family, how much I need them and how much I want them around more.
We’re an odd bunch, our clan. My grandparents were products of the Depression and had an unbelievable work ethic matched with a strong sense of humor. They believed that you could be anything you wanted but hard work was the only way to get there. They passed down a strong sense of self, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. They all picked themselves up by their bootstraps and when they made mistakes, they picked themselves up again. They suffered. They fought back. They came from hearty stock.
Growing up in this family had its fair share of knocks. I always knew I was loved, deeply, and that every single one of my relatives would kill for me. We can pick on one of our own but if an outsider even looked sideways, let alone had something critical to say about one of us, the wagons would circle. My family is an impenetrable force that no one can pierce. I know that when we’re together, we are a force – probably a force to be reckoned with (as I say with a grin).
Families are sort of amazing when you think about it. In my family, we’re all stuck with each other no matter what because blood means a tremendous amount to us. My mom and I were talking about a family that disowned one of their own for being gay. She was in shock because to her, blood is blood. You don’t get the option of rejecting your own. You’re stuck with them for good or bad, and you’d better start figuring it out because they’re not going away. I mean if you could reject a relative for being gay, why not reject the one that drinks too much or makes bad financial decisions or the one that got pregnant way too early?
Oh wait; if we did that, then we’d all be rejected! The beauty of my family is that they accept me. It has not always been easy and that’s probably more my fault than anyone else’s, but as I’ve come to accept who I am, it’s been easier to see that they’ve always been there for me. They’ve always wanted the best for me. They’ve always accepted my choices, even if they were looking at me sideways the whole time.
As I watched my baby boy and baby girl sleep next to me on that plane, I thought about what I would do for them as they grow older. How I am already so fiercely protective of their future selves, how I want them to experience life in all its complexity and make decisions that in the end they will be proud of. I want to be there to watch them fail and then pick themselves up again. I will whisper in their ear all the encouragement they need to stand up again and when that doesn’t work, I’ll bark at them until they get up just to make me stop. I can only hope they are the best parts of me.
My wife Tere was out of sorts as we prepared to leave my parents’ house in Tennessee for the trek back to Los Angeles. She seemed mad or upset at me. Eventually she broke down and told me she was sad about going home, how my parents feel like family to her and that gives her hope. Hope that she has a place in the world, a place that is bigger than she. Hope that her children will have those same people around them to make sure they are loved with big, all-squeezing arms. Hope that in this odd clan of ours, she will be as fiercely protected as I was. Hope that she will one day be whole. I think that’s all we can ever hope for – being whole…or maybe just a little less broken than we are today.
I wish I could convince Tere that she needn’t worry. No one gets rejected in our family – even the ones that marry in. We have a number of in-laws that are still with us long after the marriage ended. Her place is secure. My family has actually confided that they’d probably keep her over me in a divorce. See, that’s how they keep me on my toes, right when I was getting comfortable. We’re an odd bunch.