Dear Daddy

 

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Photo taken by: Shannon Sasaki Photography

Dear Daddy,

I got married last Sunday, the 2nd of July. It was the day after my grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, which meant a lot to me.  I know you didn’t go and I know why, but  I wanted to share the details with you, because you haven’t asked yet and I really wanted to tell you about it at lunch the other day, but I would have ended up crying, and nobody likes a sad lunch.

From the moment I woke up, I could tell it was going to be gorgeous. The sun was shining and so was my heart. I didn’t think about whether you would change your mind or not, like I had for the last few months. I just felt excited and ready for all the memories. Ana and I went to get some decorations done first thing, which was a great idea. You remember Ana, right? She’s played cards with you at the restaurant before and she’s my best friend. She thought you would come even though I kept telling her it was a lost cause.

The weather could not have been more perfect. There was a slight breeze and so much light. Light in everyone’s eyes, in their hearts. This wedding meant a lot to many, especially me, and I wanted you to see that. I know you don’t understand homosexuality and gay marriage, but I know you understand love. I wanted you to see it. None of us could stop smiling or laughing easily at everything. I remember looking at all our friends’ faces and thinking, this is how I want to live every day for the rest of my life. Smiling and laughing this easily. It was a jovial sentiment and it was catching. I just know your heart would have felt lighter. You just had to make it there.

On our way back to the hotel, Ana and I, we had a deep chat. About being perfectionists and how to let things go. I think somewhere in our mix of wise words, I decided I wouldn’t fret about you on my day. I was going to practice letting go and I felt at ease. She wanted things to be just right for me and I think in a way, she was being what I would have wanted to see from you. Kulia talks a lot about how her parents will be there for me when you guys aren’t and sometimes I think that’s unfair. Except, not this time. Her father is not a fill in for you but he was so full of love and excitement. He clearly wanted nothing but happiness for her on our day. For us. I know for both of us. Ana filled in for you.

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We got to the hotel and started getting ready. There was a mimosa bar and food. Hustle and bustle and constant movement. I didn’t have it in me to think about you anymore, from that point forward. I was practicing letting it go, remember? Either way, I was having my hair and makeup done and chatting about Kulia and I’s crazy last five years together. How far we have come and how unstoppable we seem. It’s undeniable, Dad. We.are.good.together. We make goals and meet them, we push each other to keep growing. We bought an amazing house that we built, together. The boys, who I know were your biggest concern, are thriving. They have never been better. I know you see this. We all do.

I was thinking about that chat we had, our first serious one-on-one, when I moved back from Hawaii. I remember calling you on the beach, to say words to you that I had thought about sharing for over a decade. I was in an abusive relationship that I had finally left. I told you how he had treated me and you said, “You gotta respect yourself and do what’s right because you haven’t been living.” And then in the living room, that first night, you told me that divorce wasn’t the end of my life, but rather the start of a new one. Daddy, this new life isn’t what you imagined but I think it’s bigger than we could have both thought up.

I know it bothers you that I married a woman. I don’t see it that way. As I walked down the aisle, and saw the smiling/happy crying faces of those who love our love, I thought about math. Daddy, 3 + 1=4. I know that’s how you see it. But so does 2 + 2. So does 4 + 0. The thing is, there’s more than one way to answer a problem. All of those equations come to the same ending. That is love, for me. I didn’t fall in love with Kulia because she’s a woman. I fell in love with her soul. I feel like that’s more important than gender.

As we said our vows, I saw my Momma, Berta, Emily, Grandpa and Grandma sitting there and realized my wish hadn’t come true. Even in the midst of my own fairy tale, I couldn’t bippity boppity boo you there. And Berta was crying so many happy tears, full of love and joy for us. I almost lost it, in that moment. I almost cried.

We said our I do’s with the sun in our eyes and in our hearts. I am sorry you couldn’t be there to hear Kulia promise to respect and love me until her last breath. Isn’t that what every father wants? Someone to love their daughter almost as much as they do? Someone to help raise his grandkids to be gentlemen, to be life changers, to love and to respect? This is what I have, Daddy. And the thing is, I know you love Kulia for how she is with me. I know you can see it.

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The night ended as it should. With a beautiful sunset, deep hugs, fun photobooth pictures that I know you would have had no part of, and silly dancing. Everyone was floating on a cloud of love. Mom looked so happy, so full of excitement for our family. Berta and Gracia were loving on us and the boys. Everyone was there for the right reasons and while I’m not judging you, I think you weren’t for the wrong ones.

It reminds me of when I was around 10-11 years old. Working at the restaurant taught me so much, and sometimes without trying to. I was working with Uncle Louis one day, may his soul rest peacefully, when these two ladies came in. One had short hair, the other didn’t. I was bringing them their chips and salsa when Uncle Louis pulled me aside, laughing. Those are marimachas, he told me. I had no clue what he meant, so he explained to me what lesbians were. He defined that slang, offensive word. It was the first I had ever heard of them, and I got awkward. You pulled me aside and asked why I was being rude to our customers. You told me everyone was equal and you wouldn’t tolerate that behavior.

Where was that guy on Sunday? Did you think of me at all?  You told me, after lunch, that you love me no matter what. Did you mean, even if you’re gay and married to a woman? Is that my biggest travesty in life? I didn’t start this blog entry to be upset with you, but a part of me is, Daddy. I know I’ve taken you for quite a ride with my life. This is by far the least offensive; I feel that deep down. Loving her is more right than so many other things. At the end of the day, I will never regret it.

I love you, Daddy. No matter what.

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These five locos

 

In the throes of teen angst

I often share stories and insights from raising my meanager. People ask about it, reach out to me, thank me for it, you get the gist. Most times, I’m questioned if he really is mean and while the answer may vary depending on how he’s been the day I’m being asked, for the most part, he is not. He has teen moments, has begun his hand at trying to be sarcastic and witty, is becoming slightly moody, and sometimes is just downright pissy. More often than not, he is kind. He is caring. He is reserved.

Raising our meanager has not come with ups and downs, as I’m sure it is for anyone else in our shoes. Every time I was pregnant, I wished on everything and anything that I wouldn’t have any girls. I remember when I was in my adolescents and let me tell you, I could NOT handle myself if dealt the same cards. I was by no means the worst kid ever; I wasn’t a teen mom or became addicted to drugs, I didn’t have loose morals or party all night long at random houses, but I wasn’t an angel and I always thought I knew more than my parents. I had an attitude, I was miserable and made everyone else suffer along with me. No part of that made me want a daughter. Except, having boys hasn’t been balls easy (pun intended).

Having small men is constant energy. They are loving, curious, problem solvers (for the most part) but challenging. Raising boys has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Throw in the mix that we are raising them in a two female household, where neither of us has experienced wet dreams or random erections. Where we don’t understand the voice changing and giggle when the meanager speaks. We ask him questions in front of friends so they can hear the differences also, except he has caught on to that and is refusing to appease us. There’s the new fuzz above the upper lip and the increased body odor smells. We don’t physically and emotionally understand any of these things and yet we are balls deep in them, too.

For the most part, my meanager has been withdrawn. He spends most of his time in his room, where we let him escape the ridiculousness of his younger brothers because we understand he needs space. We ask pesky questions sometimes (read: I do) and from time to time we force him to engage in conversation or time spent with us. If he’s been particularly difficult, like failing a class and not getting his ish together, we might take him to Costco and make him hold our hands (read: me), gush over him and try to kiss him in public. Being a mom can be fun some days, friends. He almost always takes it in stride and knows we love him. We have each taken a role. He talks with Ku when he has girl questions or topics he feels I’ll blow out of proportion (as if that’s even possible). He comes to me when Ku isn’t around, because he’s convinced she’s more chill than I am.

I know, it’s damn frustrating.

And then there are times he sits down and asks me in his serious, sounds like he has a big loogie sitting in the back of his throat voice if he can ask me something. And I see a storm in his eyes that carries some emotional anguish. It could be something silly and yet it’s not for him so I take it serious and brace myself. I never know what’s coming but I know it has to happen.

“Mom, have you ever had suicidal thoughts?”

And there it is, a sucker punch to my side. I’m always on the fence with how real, how honest we should be with our kiddos. I mean Ku and I, because I fully understand every parent will have their own opinion of what is best. Sam is fourteen and I’m not so sure how in depth and raw I can be with him yet. Yes, I feel my chest tightening but I have to say something that makes him feel heard, understood, listened to. I decide to be real for a moment, because I don’t want to lie to my children, ever.

I tell him yes. That I remember being upset as a teenager, feeling like my parents didn’t understand me, didn’t care about me, that I was second to their business and their time. That I was fat and got made fun of, that I never got invited to sleep overs or parties. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t good at sports. I was miserable a lot of the time and sometimes I thought about ending it all. I didn’t tell him about how I turned to cutting to feel better and have scars that will never fade from it. I keep it short and simple and then I ask him if he ever has.

“Yeah, after you and Dad split. I was really sad and thought I would never see my Dad again,” he shared. That makes sense. I had a protection order against him, he didn’t know our new address or phone number because he had gone from crazy to psychotic in the blink of an eye when I left. He was only allowed to see the children with supervised visits, which he refused to submit himself to. He went a long time without seeing his children and it was all of out selfishness. He wanted to know what would happen to him and his brothers if I died, where they would go if both I and his dad died. Things were clearly weighing on his mind.

When I think back to my decade of abuse in a violent, toxic relationship with their Dad, I find myself at a crossroads. On the one hand, I’m grateful that he never hit me in front of the kids because I can’t imagine what that would have done to my children internally, except on the other I feel like they still don’t fully understand why the divorce happened. Sam continued with the hard questions last night, asking me if I was sad the whole time I was married to his dad, why I didn’t leave sooner, how bad his dad hit me, and why.

“Why would he need a reason, Sam? Wouldn’t that be justifying doing something horrible to someone when really, there is no excuse good enough for hitting someone you said you would love and honor?” I asked him. And his response was unexpected but reasonable. “I’m not saying a reason makes it okay. I just want to know why he did it.” Except, there’s not always a reason. Often times I think he felt out of control so he would pick fights with me and goad me into answering back to which he would explode. Or I wouldn’t meet his expectations and he would lash out. It was many reasons and yet none at all and so how can you fully understand that?

Sam asked me about his dad’s family and how they treated me, he shared what he witnesses of how they treat his stepmom. He asked what brought me to finally leave and I was careful to be honest without unnecessary details. The whole time we talked he had silent tears slipping down his face and I felt like something deeper was trying to surface. Every now and again Sam does this. Just asks me a question out of the blue, with no notice and I never feel like I answer correctly. I always feel blindsided and yet realize it’s an important moment for him. And I always wish there was a manual I could reference because unless you’re prepared for these things, they just leave you feeling inadequate.

Throw in talking with your child about these deep issues you are still working through. He wasn’t done, though. He had looked over our list of attendees on the kitchen table and had seen that my Dad was a no. “Why isn’t Tan (what they’ve always called him) coming?” And when I explained that he wasn’t okay with our marriage, he asked, “But doesn’t he love you?”

It was hard not to tear up with him. Not only was he asking me some of the hardest questions of my life, ones I’ve asked myself a million times in private, he was hitting on some pretty raw situations. Yes, I know my father loves me and I don’t want to judge him on his not coming to our big day. I’ve accepted he won’t be there. I asked him so many times, hoping he changes his mind. He doesn’t comprehend it and for him to attend, he would have to in his opinion, so he can’t bring himself to be there. I get it, because I choose to. And I love him because regardless of our differences in opinion, my ability to love him isn’t hinged on this one moment. Yes, it’s major to me. It’s monumental to both Ku and I. I am simply choosing to try to see things through his lens and agree to disagree.

Last night was tough. Yes, I found being honest pretty difficult, but I also wanted to answer his questions without projecting my own feelings into our talk because I don’t want him to feel how I do out of solidarity or obligation. I want him to hear me yet draw his own conclusions and thoughts without just being upset with his father or my dad. And just finding the bravery alone to initiate the whole thing with me, the one who is less chill, was pretty awesome, regardless of how much I struggled through it. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be googling how to have difficult yet meaningful conversations with teenagers because shoot me before he surprises me again!

 

When did you know?

 

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It doesn’t get much cuter than this!

 

When people ask me who I am I never think “Lesbian.” I almost always describe myself as a mother, a wife, an aficionado of wine, a lover of fat babies and children in general, a jokester, a wit mcgrit, a rhymer in an un-rapstar kind of way, a smart-ass, a badass, a babe. I dig the Gilmore Girls, Game of Thrones, reading of all sorts, writing; I am a Human Resources professional, I’m a developer of people, curator of ideas, a doer, a shaker. I’m ALWAYS A BOSS.

And yet, I’m asked often times the same question. I’m quite alright with it, so if you’re reading this and cringing because you’ve also asked me about my sexuality in some way, shape or form, don’t think for one moment it has offended me. It hasn’t. I welcome it, in honesty, because I’m also thinking my way through it for better ways to explain what I feel inside of me.

We have somehow become a society of labels. Sometimes those labels fit us so well, like wine-lover, and others we want to immediately throw out the window and not accept, such as overweight. We don’t always want to be just one of them, sometimes we want to add more to our plate and other times we don’t even know we have earned a new one.

I feel like that last one was my case, five plus years ago, when I fell in love for real, for the legit first time, forever. Not once did I stop and think about the gender of who I was falling for. There was no time for that. It was more of an excitement, a rustle in the air of emotions and charged feelings. What I have continually tried to explain is that I never once stopped and said, “Whoa, I’m in love with a girl.” All I could think was, “This is love. This is real.”

I don’t have a coming-out story like some do. Telling friends or family I was gay just never happened. At least not like it did for a lot, who maybe realized their attraction at an early age and tried to hide it. Or understanding how you want to look or dress and then “breaking the news to your people.” I can’t say if it’s because I didn’t know, or didn’t recognize. My sharing of a love story was me introducing her to family and friends. Just pulled the band aid off and did it. I didn’t worry about it one bit. I wasn’t scared. I was so damn excited about turning a new leaf, changing my life, taking a plunge, not in loving her, but in throwing away my shitty first draft and starting over. My loving a woman was the last bullet point on a new outline for life. It wasn’t saying, “Hey everyone, I love a woman.” It was me shouting, “Hey everyone, I AM IN LOVE.”

When the questions eventually started, because they inevitably do, that was when I realized it was a major change for people. Apparently you can’t drink coffee with cream your whole life and then cold turkey go to black (or vice-versa) without having to explain the ins and outs to people. They hit you with a stack of ideas that could make it acceptable. It’s not always the same but can look something like this.

“Ooooooh, it was probably because he was abusive to you. Are you scared of guys now?” No.

“Is this a phase? What if you change your mind again? And is this weird for your kids?” No.

“Was he not good in bed? You just decided to give ladies a try? He was just that terrible?” No.

And the ever perplexing: “That must be really embarrassing for him. His wife leaving him for a woman?” WHAT THE WHAT?!?!! Sure. Let’s all take a moment and have a moment of silence for the asshole that still haunts my nightmares. Let’s hope his miniature man balls can take such a blow. Sheesh.

People want to know what brought it about, they want to find reasons in the chaos, they sit and rack their brain about why you made this choice. And yet I don’t remember ever clearing choosing a woman. I merely let my heart decide. I can’t even say if I would be with another woman if something happened to us. I just know that I have never felt so connected to a man. I haven’t felt this immense, overwhelmingly beautiful pull to a man. What I can say is that the universe knew it was time for me to be happy and placed the PERFECT person in my path. I was luckily paying attention. Sometimes we aren’t, though. Right? There could very well be many of us who had amazing options right in front of our face and we chose to look right through them. It can be a best guy friend who wants to give a relationship a shot but you aren’t up for it, because you don’t want to lose a friendship. It could be the “nice guy” who just doesn’t make you feel butterflies in your stomach. It could be the ex of a friend and you can’t break the girl code. It could be someone of a different ethnicity or your same race who you’ve sworn you would never date because of it. Either way, it comes out in your questions to me.

I won’t say Kulia and I haven’t discussed what this is for the boys. It was really more of a slow process, because they were dealing with the divorce, which was hard for them. There were so many changes with that and a period of time they didn’t see their Dad due to a restraining order. That was the hard part and so we handled them gently. She was there as a friend and a confidant for them. She was around in such a seamless way and eventually, when it was time, we got a place together and they never batted an eye. She was so safe for them and they could feel it and they wanted her to live with us. We never openly engage in PDA around them, minus holding hands and an occasional peck on the lips, but not because we are two ladies. It’s because it’s not appropriate, even if we were hetero. There’s a place and a time for such acts, and we have never thought it was to be in front of the kiddos. We let them slowly understand we weren’t just best friends but also in love. We are respectful to not flaunt our relationship at their school events or outings but we also don’t hide it. We have always operated with 100% honesty, with them, with our family, with our friends, and with anyone who asks.

I promise that. Always honesty because I haven’t felt for one second that our love is not a beautiful thing. I hold her hand with pride, I smile when I call her my wife. I love that the boys couldn’t imagine life without her. I won’t hide it and I won’t shy away from any questions in regards to it. You have any? Hit me with them! I will always answer them. All I’m saying is, love has never been a choice when it comes to her. She was always meant for me and me for her and we had no say in the whole, entire matter.

 

 

 

Love at first…LOOK?

IMG_0375[1]As Kulia and I near our wedding (87 days!!!), I thought it would be fun to share what we wrote on our wedding website, a glimpse into our story, albeit not too intrusive, because sharing stories about love and what it means to us helps those around us understand US more, maybe show others what love can aspire to be and for others, maybe just showcase a different side of us that maybe they haven’t been privy to.

Our Story

(Ku’s Version)

Virginia and I met at the Bank of Hawaii Kaimuki branch. Once Vee saw me she wouldn’t leave me alone. And here we are.

The TRUTH, as told by Vee <—which means it is COMPLETELY accurate

As Ku previously mentioned, we met at our work. I know, typical, right??

It was Sept 9, 2011 . A Friday.

I remember hearing great things about her. “You’ll like her, she’s pretty funny,” a co-worker shared with me. She walked in, pretty cocky right off the bat with her fancy title and her short skirt. Long, luscious black locks and bright smile. We were sitting in a mini-morning meeting and she stood up to introduce herself. After that it was our turn to introduce ourselves, which made me giggle because the whole team already knew her. This was all really for me. When it was my turn, she made THIS FACE that I couldn’t quite discern. A smirk. She says she doesn’t remember. I question this.

The thing is, she couldn’t leave me alone, either. To the point where she drunk dialed me one night and kept saying, “Virginia Vasconcellos. Doesn’t that sound AMAZING?!” How do you not fall in love with an alliteration aficionado? Be still, my heart!

Flash forward to December 2013. I had planned a surprise birthday party for her the night before ALL while she had been planning her own surprise for the crack of dawn on the 28th. She made sure we got home earlier than I had expected. We were chatting with Ashley, Kulia’s sister, having some wine. Ku went to bed early. “Don’t stay up too long, ladies,” she said as she went to crash.

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED WE WOULD STAY UP TALKING UNTIL 5 AM?!?! Certainly not me.

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So, she woke me up an hour later. I may have still been tipsy. It was a sunrise date on our favorite beach. We stopped for McDonald’s coffee on the way and then we made it out there. We sat in front of our favorite beach house on Lanikai and she handed me a present. “You said you would write our story one day, but I beat you to it,” she said. “Turn around and read this and don’t turn back around until you’re done.”

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It was a book full of pictures and quotes of our time together. Short but full of life and adventure, love and learning, ebbs and flows but INSANE happiness. Most of our favorite moments, tons of memories. All in this beautiful collection, with a love letter at the end that ended with an ellipsis, and when I turned the page, three pictures featuring my favorite little men, each holding up a word. “Will you marry…”

And then I turned around. She was sitting in the sand with the word ME? in the sand. I never expected it. Never saw it coming. This was even before we thought it would be legal. None of that has ever mattered to us. Really, it’s more of a feeling of commitment to each other. So, I said yes. Then I said, “I know this is a beautiful moment and there’s nowhere I would rather be right now…except we have to go because I have to poop. Thank you, McDonald’s coffee. It’s pretty urgent.”

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And that’s been the PERFECT synopsis of our relationship. A lot of beauty mixed with bowel movements, silliness and shenanigans, all rolled together. You’re all welcome.