Before it was Cool

In high school, I was lucky enough to be the vice-president (or was it secretary…I legitimately cannot remember) (or Treasurer, was that a thing?) of the Honor Society at my school. A close friend of mine was the President and somehow we were tasked with the very important job of putting on a school dance towards the end of the school year. This dance was called Tolo.

Our school, and maybe only schools up in our county call it that, but really it is a dance where historically, the girl asks the guy to the dance. I have recently learned that many other schools call this concept Sadie Hawkins. Or something like that. Honestly, none of that matters. It is a school dance, more commonly known as the dance where girls would look glam-awkward and the guys would look dapper-odd. I’m clearly talking about the good ole days, where young adults hadn’t learned how to contour and do amazing makeup on YouTube and Pinterest. I mean, my grandkids are going to look so great! And they will look back at all my school dance photos and cringe like I do. ACK!

Anyway, all the other dances were put on by very reputable groups. I know you’re probably thinking that the FRIGGIN HONOR SOCIETY must be the most trustworthy group, but you would be wrong. Children that are all-knowing should be supervised. I’ll say that forever and ever, because I was that child. Anyway, I digress. The all-esteemed president and I convened, which is what I call the planning party where I convinced her we make the theme Hawaiian Luau (I KNOW) and she listened to all my crazy ideas that were very pineapple-centric. I should add that I recently took the Strenghthfinders test, where they determine your top five strengths. I think my number two was Woo. I thought that referred to my very common WOO I will yell at random occasions. No. It is my power of persuasion. Awesome. It was in full force on this senior year night.

So I got what I wanted here. A Hawaiian party where we could make a ton of decorations and not have to wear a dress and still have fun. Definitely win-win.

I asked a friend to go with me, but not as my date. I had zero interest in him and told him I would take him to McDonalds for dinner. I was that serious.

We arrived at the party and the prezzy and I went off to handle a lot of logistical, background tasks. At least, that is what I told my friend. Really, I could see he had some hopes up and I wasn’t about to encourage that. Besides, we did have some actual duties, like reminding attendees to vote for the dance royalty. I was dreading this part.

Now, yes, I recognize that our spring Sadie Hawkins dance, or whatever you want to call it, pales in comparison to football homecoming. There isn’t a float parade or special assembly for it. There is, however, still a high school hierarchy that decides the winners. You know the one I’m referring to, if you’ve ever been in high school. The pretty and cool (those are not independent of each other) kids in the fun clique all vote for whoever is next on their list. I was never in this clique so I especially saw it and the effects it had on the very large population of students who continually feel left out or unseen.

We did our announcement, reminding everyone one last time to come over and get their votes in. As we waited anxiously for the time to run out, we chatted about who our money was on to win King & Queen. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t the preppy group. I mean, they are always good looking kids! We just knew the possibilities were a small group of people. When it was finally time we grabbed the box from the rando that had been manning that table and headed back into a private room to “count them.”

Now, you’re probably wondering why that was in quotations. It is because this wasn’t the most popular dance, and even with a pretty decent number of students there, not everyone voted. The whole process could have taken us less than five minutes and we could deliver our hula girl prizes (I might not be remembering that correctly, but this was in a recent dream so let’s go with it) to the winning couples. It felt sort of exhilarating, to know the outcome before announcing the winner to a group. I can only imagine how the committee who knows Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winners first feel. We decide (it was her, the president, because she’s a math wizard) to make piles first and then count, in the event a count was needed. You know, in case that group couldn’t pick one clear winning couple.

As we started creating the piles, I got this sudden urge to rip them all up. I didn’t, but I recognized it was there. I was seeing popular after popular and realized this was probably my only chance ever to be a part of something revolutionary at this school. I mean, if you didn’t count the recent stint of suspended days I had recently served because I had “caused too much of a scene when a fellow classmate had made racist comments to a friend.” After I continued to cause said scene I also yelled for justice. How could I be suspended for defending her and he not be defended for making the racist remarks? Right? Right. End story? We both got suspended and I was 100% fine with that.

“You know,” I said to my friend, “do we really have to count these? Who would it hurt if we picked our own winners?”

She turned to me and smiled. “Did you have anyone in mind?”

I sure did. This dance was the first time, in my high school years, that I had seen a same-sex couple attend. Two ladies, looking super cute and semi-uncomfortable, had bought their tickets and shown up. There had been whisperings for the two weeks leading up to it because it was scandalous and amazing and unheard of. I was a big fan. I wanted to tip the scales and announce them Queen and Queen.

There is something to be said about growing up in farm country. You see, over and over, the normalcy of hetero relationships was prevalent. You are raised with this confusing rhetoric that you will grow up and marry a man, but not before you get some sort of post-secondary education’ you will have children but not before you buy a house, etc. Not everyone follows the rules and they suffer harsh judgement from it, however short-lived that may be. Seeing these two ladies take each other to this dance was so brave and encouraging. It also showed that our little corner of the county had more diversity than just ethnic differences.

My co-conspirator was in my corner and it made me so happy. Not that we had to help these ladies too much. If I’m being completely honest, we only “helped” them with less than ten votes. That was what helped me push my integrity aside so fast! I wasn’t the only one who wanted so desperately to see this change! My president just had one request, that I gladly accepted.

As we took the stage to announce all the winning couples, including prince and princess, my heart began to race. I was sure everyone could hear it through the microphone, that familiar boom-boom of not following a rule. The agreement had been that I would announce the two lesser royalty and she would announce the queens. And queens they were! Amidst the looks of shock were many of happiness. They came up so gracefully and danced so beautifully right after, It was amazing and we very non-discreetly high fived as we walked off the stage.

I will forever call this my greatest achievement of high school, very equivalent to fighting against racism. The thing is, nothing ever changes unless you break some rules, I suppose.

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These clearly aren’t the Queens. I don’t have a pic and even if I did, I would have to find them and get permission. This works. You get the gist of it.

 

 

 

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.