Meant to Be, 39 Years Later

San Francisco, 1978: Paul rolls out from under a car at his auto repair shop, Chuck asks “Who’s the blonde?” They spend the summer camping, falling in love. Autumn arrives, Chuck ends it: “I’m 20, too young to settle down.” Paul’s devastated. 2010: they run into each other at an RV park. In serious relationships, they reconnect as friends. Within six months, they’re both single. Chuck’s devastated: “I’m 54, who would want this?” Paul hugs him so tight Chuck’s rib cracks. 2017: 39 years after meeting, they marry. Chuck: “I broke your heart, you broke my rib. Call it even?”

My neighbors, Chuck and Paul, in Cloverdale, California on their 5th wedding anniversary.

Five Years, One Text

A three-year affair. Fiery, dizzying, painful. Sunrise runs, seaside hikes, heartbreaks in parked cars; countless I love yous exchanged in secret. Year Four: drunk, he watched his husband kiss me from another room. Voices raised, explanations demanded, a truth revealed: “I have feelings for him, too.” A throuple formed. We made love, I learned cribbage, future plans forged. Puzzled, our children raised questions, neighbors got wind, rumors swirled. Bitter words exchanged, longtime friendships ended, a house sold. Impaired, we hung on for two years, bleeding hope into the ashes. It ended with a text: “You’re right, this isn’t gonna work.”

The view from our room at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, where they took me for my birthday last year.