Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's not you, it's D.


What a yucky word, right? But, I had to start the blog off this way. I had to start with this word, this real- ugly word because this is the right way to break the ice.

It's like yelling at a party: "I have herpes!" (I mean, if you do, you should yell it out at a party, because everyone that possibly wants your vagina deserves to know.)

Like divorce. People deserve to know...

That I'm divorced.

Try yelling that out at a party. It's SUPER fun.



The thing is: it's ok. It really is. There was no blood, scandal, closet lovers or anything like that. We're super unoriginal when it comes to anything interesting. We're not a Mexican soap-opera. (Although I wish we were sometimes because that shit is fascinating.) We're Two people that fell in love and then fell out of love and decided to move on.

Sometimes the most painful things we have to go through in life are pretty basic. They are a streamlined, step-by-step journey that we just...get through. I hate to sound like a Hallmark card, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always a silver lining around a cloud. Sometimes you go through something really shitty, but you know it is for the best and you keep trucking and try to drink a lot of wine with you girlfriends to get through it.

And it works.

So this blog is now kaput. I loved doing it. I really did. I loved connecting with other wives from miles away. I loved being a part of this community that was about supporting and loving someone from far away. I got e-mails from wives that had husbands deployed. I had women reach out that had recently become widowed. I had readers in China, London, Australia, Iraq, Ireland. THE MOON. (just kidding,) I mean. I had readers. I had people that listened and cared. This thing...this project...was awesome.

So, while the blog is done, I'll leave you with this. Love is worth it. Ok? Fight for it. Work for it. Try.

I did that, and I'm happy now where it led me, and I'm confident in the fact that I gave it my all.

And he did too.

And life is still funny, and weird, and good.

(And I have a chihuahua that thinks he is a cat. And I moved across the country. And I woke up this afternoon with said chihuahua sleeping ON MY FACE. And I felt loved. So, seriously. Life is good.)

Thank you all.

Goodnight for now.

See you in the morning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I'M TURNING 30 OMG WHY IS THIS HAPPENING. Also, let me tell you what I learned.


I turn 30 tomorrow.

Which is what it is.

The funny thing about 30 is that- it being a milestone birthday- everyone wants in. I've gotten all sorts of advice/affirmations/weird comments. Some of my favorites:

"30 is SO sexy. You just feel sexy all the time. And your consistent sex is just...consistent. And SO sexy. You're going to love it." (helpful, thanks.)

"It's not the end of the world. Shut up. I'm 50, you baby. Stop whining." (Thanks Mom.)

"You're never, going to be, like, in your 20's again. Does that make you sad? They're like...gone." (...)

"You're turning 30?! THAT'S AWESOME! Soooo...when are you going to have a baby?!" (Christ.)

So let's just get a few things straight. I'm turning 30 tomorrow. I woke up this morning on my Mother's couch. With my dog eating my hair, turning my neck into his own personal drooled up slippy slide. wearing pajamas with smiling clocks on them. As far as I know there is no baby in my belly.

And I'm pretty ok with that.

This is why:

The other night I got to thinking about how much I have learned in my 29th year alone. Which is pretty remarkable. We learn things through life, sure. But, the things I feel I have learned just in the last 12 months make me (reluctantly) embrace this new chapter called 30. So, let me share a few of these life lessons with you. Maybe they will help you. Maybe they will help you think that I am a slow learner. Maybe you will find me a genius and ask me to be your personal life coach. I don't know. Let's just go with whatever you feel, ok?

Things I learned as a 29 Year Old

It's Perfectly Acceptable To See A Dog, Fall In Love, And Take Him Home After Paying A Hefty Price To Make Sure He Has A Good Home. With You. (Sleeping Between Your Legs Which Makes It Difficult When You Want To Turn Over. Or You Know, Stretch.)
My dog, Sedaris, was definitely not part of the plan. The fact that I slipped on my flip flops today and realized that they were completely chewed through- rendering them not usable- was not part of the plan either. But you know what? Flip flops are replaceable...the way I feel looking into his cute and weird little face every morning is not. Sometimes you have to take a leap. A very expensive leap. It's worth it.

Also, plans are stupid.

It's Important To Surprise Yourself. And Not Just In The Way That Happens After Trying On Bikinis After Eating Bean Dip.
I surprised myself constantly in my 29th year. I was surprised that I finally mastered a perfectly roasted chicken. I surprised myself by following that up by become a passionate vegetarian. I surprise myself by remembering french phrases that seem to come out of nowhere when I'm tipsy or angry or tipsy and angry or cooking. Or cooking while I am tipsy and angry. I surprise myself by: Hiking the second largest mountain in the Adirondacks IN THE SNOW WITH SNOW SHOES ON. Finishing that book that I felt in the beginning I "couldn't understand." Forgiving someone I never thought I could. Using self tanner and failing at it and still finding it a worthwhile experience. Making that call. Sending that letter. Falling in love. Taking a long drive alone. Being ok alone. Writing something that surprises even me. Taking a chance. Another chance. Getting food poisoning and laughing about it, because that shit is funny. Painting. Not painting. Loving. Not loving.

Bottom line: I learned how exciting it is to find yourself in the middle of something- be it a botched self tanner experiment or the best short story you have ever written in your life- and to sit back, smile, and say: "Damn Girl. That was pretty unexpected. Nice work." 

Own your experience. Whatever it may be.

Your Family Is The Source Of Your Humor If You Open Yourself Up To The Fact That Allowing That Humor In Will Also Bring Therapy.
Anyone who has met my family knows that they are ridiculous. And weird. And conniving. And dark. And judgemental. But they are also the funniest fucking people on the planet, and until I realized this (in my 29th year!) I was never really able to appreciate them fully.

(Because we are all flawed. And dark. And we are all assholes. Stop lying to yourself. It's true. You're totally an asshole sometimes.)

My family are the kind of people that in one day will call me: stupid, lame, annoying, obnoxious...beautiful, incredible, smart, vivacious, and loving. My Mom still tries to call people that I am upset with to "give them a piece of her mind." Like she is Tony Soprano or something. I learned to find humor in all of these moments. And it was the best thing I could ever do.

Because they are funny as shit.

Be Ok With You Even If The Applebees Waiter is Decidedly NOT Ok With You.
One thing I learned:
I am me. I'm loud. I will order things on the menu that do not exist...calm down bro. I'm impossible sometimes. I'm opinionated, and easily get frustrated during Scrabble, and I can't always remember the names of the authors I have devoted my life to studying. (The other day I said I loved Dickens-Dickenson and THAT IS NOT A PERSON OR AUTHOR. IT IS A WEIRD COLLABORATION THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN OF TWO NAMES AND I SHOULD HAVE MY BERKELEY CARD REVOKED.

But you know what: That's me. That's imperfect-little tummy-loud-weird-karaoke loving-chihuahua owning-margarita loving me. I have big boobs, no ass, a big brain, no lips, a big mouth, little restraint, lots of love to give, no filter....and...

I'm just me.

And I'm ok with me.

So this is what I've learned in my 29th year. A year of mistakes, triumphs, personal loss, personal growth, burritos, puppies, family, laughs, tears, scabs, wounds, heals, God, life, death, Vegans, renewal, and roses.

Not a bad year at all.

I'm ready for you, 30.

I hope you are ready for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Day I Stopped Caring What People Think. Because People That Love You Will Support Your Life Choices As Long As They Don't Involve Cocaine. (Or: The Day I Adopted Sedaris.)

I could you NOT take him home?

It might come as a surprise to some people, but a large part of the past 7 years of my life were made up of rules. While I was still a carefree individual, happy to go with my heart on a few things, the bones of my existence were rigid ideas of Right and Wrong. What I Should Do and What I Shouldn't Do. Black and White. Yes and No. There was little room for "maybes", "why nots" and delicious spontaneity. I had a very specific 5 year plan. And I clung desperately to it, blinders firmly blocking out anything but what was in front of me.

But, the blinders were ripped off. The 5 year plan crumbled. And that's how I found myself sitting on the floor of my Mom's kitchen, holding a puppy I had newly adopted in my lap as I bitterly cried and wondered oh my God what did I just do.


The day before I had first seen the puppy in an unexpected trip to buy cucumbers. (Because that happens to normal people all the time.) I saw him. I held him. I found myself asking when he would be ready to go home with me. My Mom stood next to me, and when I was presented with paperwork she started awkwardly giggling. "Uh...Mel..." she sang, trying to gently pry the puppy out of my hands. "You're're going through a lot right now...are you sure about this, sweetheart?"

I looked down into his little face. And his little paws desperately trying to climb into my shirt to be smuggled back with me to my sad little weird life. And I knew I was sure- but I did the rational thing.  I took a million pictures of him on my phone, stuck them on Instagram, and said that I would sleep on it.

I did this because it wasn't "right." It wasn't something "I should do." I was in the middle of a major life change, I was moving alone across the country, and as timing goes- this specific time to go home with a puppy sucked. A puppy was something you adopted with your husband. One year before you tried for a family. One year after you moved into your first house. 5 years after you got married. These were very real ideas I had about life, and I couldn't shake them.

What the hell was I doing in Ohio...alone...trying to go home with a puppy?

I wrestled with these ideas all night, trying to break down the limiting boundaries I had put on my life, and just as I was about to fall asleep my Mom came into my room and sat at the foot of my bed.

"I think you would be really, really good for that dog. And I think he would be really, really good for you. And tomorrow I'm taking you back to him, and you're going to take him home." 

When I tried to argue she just shook her head sadly. "No- Melissa...I was wrong to doubt you. You've been doubted so much. There is no perfect time to do things in life. So, why not make the perfect time now?"

So the next day we picked him up. After I spent about 32749832749 dollars on new things for him. And as soon as we came home, and he sat in my lap and looked up at me...I started crying.

The weight of this decision- my first decision made alone in a long time- really weighed on me. My Mom found me crying into a pot holder and immediately freaked out. "Oh my God...did he bite you?!"

"No." I wailed. "Well, yes. A lot...but...what did I do?! Everyone is going to think I'm crazy. Everyone is going to think this was a bad, uneducated choice! Everyone is going to think I'm impulsive, and destructive, and making wrong choices! Everyone is going to be so upset with me."

"Who's "everyone"? She asked.

"Everyone." I weakly returned.

And then she said the equivalent to: "Fuck them" but my Mom doesn't really use that word, so it could have been some weird made-up swear because that's what she does. But, she did it emphatically. She emphatically fake-swear-reminded me that this was my life and it was up to me to fill it with the beautiful things I wanted to fill it with. And maybe even the beautiful mistakes I wanted to fill it with. And whatever the hell else I wanted to fill it with.

And then she wiped my eyes on the pot holder. And I blew my nose in to it, because I'm gross. And then I took my new little part of my life out for a walk.

It was the first time he had ever seen grass. As he stood, quivering at the edge of the sidewalk, pacing excitedly back and forth...he looked up at me, as if asking for permission to step into the green unknown. I smiled and nudged him forward.

"Jump in, little one." I said.

And he stepped back.

Readied himself.

And leaped forward.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Support You. And Your Oil Habit.

I was sitting in a living room with a bunch of my Mom's friends, watching her nervously stack her notes against her thigh while I nervously stacked cheese into my mouth. We were at an event she was hosting- for a product my Mom had suddenly and passionately attached herself to and wanted to sell. She had discovered the healing benefits of essential oils, and now her house smelled like a Catholic church and she had this new job. I questioned this new endeavor of hers, and was not at all on the slippery oil bandwagon. In fact, I sort of teased her about it mercilessly, even right up until she had dragged me to this party for support where I supported myself with dairy products. She caught my eye mid-cramming-my-mouth and walked over, clutching a machine that looked like a robot hand.

"For God sake put the cheese down and let me read your imbalances."

"My what?"

"Your imbalances. It will tell you what your system is lacking, and then we can find the right oils to balance you."

"I bet Melissa's system isn't lacking wine." My 19 year old sister chirped next to me, as I fixed her with a glare. "I saw you have a glass before we came here, even though Mom said it would throw your balance off." She whispered.

"You never go to a tupperware party, an oil party, or any party that sells glass swan figurines without a glass of wine." I hissed. "Life lesson. Tuck it away."

Mom sighed loudly while attaching the robot hand to me, hooking it to a computer that immediately whirred to life. I admit I sat transfixed as it clicked and sorted colorful looking charts that were apparently reading my cheesy, wine rich sweat. A few minutes later it slowed considerably, before shooting a number across the screen. We all leaned forward to read the verdict...which basically said something along the lines that I was dying, a disappointment as a daughter, and should be covered in oils constantly.

Of course. 

"You need balance in your life, Melissa."

I needed more cheese.

The rest of the party had us sitting in a circle, passing oils around and rubbing it into our temples, the bottoms of our feet, and underneath our tongues. I felt like I was at a massage party gone wrong, and when they passed the lavender oil (for sleep) I accidentally dropped the contents of the entire bottle into my crotch. So, there I sat, with the room getting hotter,  and my warm little body became a natural diffuser. Essentially my vagina began putting me to sleep. My head lolled back on the couch as I struggled to stay awake, and my Mom's face was victorious. "See?! NATURAL. OILS. It works! You're tired!"

"I also smell like a prostitute from the Biblical times." I sleepily answered.

"I wish you wouldn't joke about this. I care about this. Can you try a little?"

It was a weak moment for me. I was drugged out on lavender, I was lubed up like a body wrestler, and I very much wanted to be away from the nonsense that was this party. "Listen Mom- good for you, ok? But, I'm going to go home. This is all...too crazy for me."

I wanted to take it back as soon as I said it, but her face fell as she nodded. "You're right. Ok. Go home. See you later?"

As I drove back home I couldn't stop seeing her face- once so hopeful and then immediately crushed. And I thought oils were crazy? I lived in Berkeley and had pee thrown on me my first day of school! Why couldn't I support her in this one thing when she supported me throughout my whole life?

I was, essentially, an oily douche.


The next morning over coffee, my oily faux pas forgotten, my Mom and I sat on the couch- mapping out my suddenly wide open and terrifyingly empty future. I threw out crazy ideas for the next year: travel more alone, change career paths, maybe revive that once old dream to start a children's theatre. With each idea my Mom nodded and smiled, encouraged and drew up plans. And as I sat cuddled up with her, feeling so supported and buoyed by her love- I realized something.

This was the same woman that LOVED my childhood dream of me being a whale trainer-when I was afraid of swimming. The same woman that published my first poem- which was about a bird that talked to God and then fell out of a tree. This is the woman who high fived me when I told her I wasn't going to college right after high school, but was going to "become a famous actress." Like that's an actual job title or something. She literally stood by and let me do stupid shit all the time because I declared them dreams. 

And I couldn't accept her robot hands and vials of oil.

We can't just let people stand in the wings of our life and cheer us on, only to duck out of the theater when the spotlight swings their way. We have to encourage, we have to rub oil all over ourselves and drink wine after, not before. We have to sometimes support our parent's crazy ideas- even when we think they would be better suited to...oh, I don't know...moving in with us and making us food all day.

Which is why I stood up, rubbed my stomach, and looked at my Mom with a crease of concern. "I've been having stomach problems all day. You wouldn't...happen to have an oil? That could help?"

She smiled at me, understanding my olive (oil) branch I was extending her way, and jumped to her feet.

"I do, actually. And since you're now interested...let's try a few oils! What else is wrong with you?"

"Everything." I answered. And held out my wrists to be anointed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So Today I was Totally Selfish and Stupid but God and Ricky Martin Helped.

This girl. I fight for this girl.

This afternoon Brett found me holed up in the bedroom with a stack of New Yorkers, the air conditioner on full blast, and still wearing my green snowflake pajamas from winter with a hole in the crotch.

"Oh my God. Are you sick?"

"Probably." I whined, before pulling the duvet over my head and slinking deeper down into my little cave of disgustingness. "You should go. There's a hole in the crotch of my pajama pants."

"That doesn't really mean anything...but..." he pulled the covers off my head and attempted a look of genuine concern through what I think was him biting back a laugh. "You want lunch? 2pm."

"I can't possibly think about food right now." I snapped. "My life is ending and for some reason all of my pajama pants are going with it. THIS IS THE THIRD PAIR IN A WEEK."

"Maybe you should wear other pants besides...pajama pants?" (this was said in a half whisper because the look I fixed him with most likely made him question everything from his existence to his short marriage to me.) "Just kidding." He recovered, "I LOVE polar bears and snowflakes."

For some reason this made me cry, and as I choked out an apology and laid my head back in my nest of pillows I struggled to say something more. I struggled to explain to him that my lingering sadness was selfish and unfair and he was being patient and everything a best friend should be. Instead, I wiped my eyes roughly and whispered: "I think I need some queso and a margarita."

"Done. Even though queso is gross. But, maybe after you go for a run? And...shower?" He answered, already pulling me into a sitting position. SO, an agreement was reached and I found myself at the gym 20 minutes later, climbing onto the treadmill and  reluctantly stretching my legs through my first mile. By the second mile I started to get into my groove and relax a bit. Going into my third, I got a sharp pain in my lungs and had to stop- surprised at the searing grip on my chest and also feeling super embarrassed because a hot girl next to me was on mile 6. (I was looking at her screen. Obviously.) I slowed to a walk and started blinking back tears.

Because I remembered something.

A few years ago I attended the funeral of the mother of one of my youth group girls. The mother was flawlessly elegant, sporty, young, vivacious. She was taken by cancer and way too soon. And, as I sat in the church that day, my hand coldly nestled in Brett's, my heart breaking for the little girl in the front row that just lost her mom, the pastor said something that I'll never forget. I guess before she knew she had cancer, she was swimming in Lake Tahoe and suddenly had a sharp pain in her side. Instead of giving up in the middle of the lake, flailing her arms for help or to quit, she simply- (and I quote) "swam on the other side. The one that didn't hurt."

Now, I don't think I have cancer- and that is not the point of this. I think I haven't really run in a few weeks and maybe have been eating too much queso. Why this story resonated with me was because at the very moment I was in bed being a douche bag with a hole in my pajama pants my little sister, with Cystic Fibrosis, was actually going in for lung surgery.

I was sitting there and moaning about my life while she fought for hers.

I begrudgingly went for a run she can never take.

And I do believe God smacked me in the lungs and was like: "What's up, asshole? Who do you think you are?!"

Or something like that.

The story of the mom reminded me that we can't just let life cramp us up and bring us down. While she did eventually slip peacefully away, she sure as hell didn't go without a fight. And Kayla, my sister, was fighting miles away. Fighting for every breath and every moment while I sat down and decidedly did not fight. I whined and hid my healthy body under a healthy duvet in my healthy-ish home.

I stepped off the treadmill to catch my breath. And wipe my brow.

And then I put on some Ricky-Fucking-Martin (my go to running jams, sorry,) and climbed back up. And I ran for Kayla. And I ran for the mom. And I ran for me.

And then I ate queso. I'm sorry. It's QUESO. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't turn out like me. But, if you turn out a little like me, that's ok.

Trust Me

I was distracted yesterday by all of the facebook posts about National Sibling Day. I scrolled through endless declarations of love, pictures of siblings with their arms draped around eachother's necks, and playful inside jokes peppered throughout my news feed. It made me think of my own 6 (!) siblings and how much I love them. And hate them sometimes. I will do, and have done anything for them. They are my Achilles heel. They are my weak spot. I have driven through the night to help soothe a break up. I've seen my sister's vagina pop out when she gave birth. I've told on my brother when he painted weed paraphernalia all over my mother's attic. I held my sister's hand after a heart transplant, and then brought her junk food the next day. I've changed their diapers, celebrated their successes, shut them in the dryer when we were fighting, and locked them out of the house in a  thunderstorm. They are the only people on the planet that undo me at the same time they make me whole.

I'd kill a bitch for them.

Being the oldest, I feel like I'm constantly wanting to protect them and have them learn from the (very, very many) life mistakes I've packed in over the past 30 years. I know I can't though. I have to sit back and let them get their belly buttons pierced and go on dates with "really, really nice, I swear!" guys that wear Ed Hardy t-shirts AND I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING. However, some mistakes are meant to be made by the oldest so the ones that follow don't have to go through the consequences of them. Which is why I drafted up this list- a love letter of sorts to the younger generation- of Things You Should And Should Not Do Because I Did Them And That's Enough.

Enjoy, my darlings. I messed up/learned a bunch just for you.

Don't trust wild animals that are not afraid of you.
In no particular order I have had: a tarantula follow me aggressively before blocking my path- leaving me stranded on a random hill for an hour, a squirrel try to walk off with my water bottle. (It literally pulled backwards with two little paws until it gave up and tried to climb my leg for it,) and a treed baby bear that was all: "Hey!" and I was like, "Hey! Cute!" and then Brett was all : "IF YOU SEE A TREED BABY BEAR YOU RUN BECAUSE THE MOM IS CLOSE AND WILL EAT YOU."

So, love nature. Just be suspicious of it.

Be nice to the homeless man that says "Good Morning" to you every day, but not to the one that jumps into your face and calls you a "stupid Native American slut."
Surprisingly, the latter cannot be reasoned with. And will throw a soda bottle filled with pee at you.

Carry pepper spray. But test it out before you try to use it. Make sure that when you do use it however, it is not in a windy alley and aimed at your landlord.
I don't think this needs much more of an explanation.

Avoid Captain Morgan at ALL costs.
You will vomit. You will vomit like your stomach is getting turned inside out and your body hates you and is on a singular mission to rid you of all necessary organs. You will probably vomit on wooden floorboards that have tiny cracks that will retain that vomit for years to come. You will embarrass yourself, cry along to the song "Everybody Hurts" on repeat, and then fall asleep in vomit and cold fried chicken. You will be 19 and turned off from alcohol until your 21st birthday...

wait. Maybe that's a good thing- Captain Morgan is awesome. Drink a whole bottle now.

Always splurge on underwear, wine, and good shoes.
Not all together in one purchase, because people will think you are a high end call girl/guy.

Learn how to play an instrument.
Or, just learn a few chords on the guitar and then tell everyone you meet you play. Just don't tell anyone at a bonfire because there sure as hell will be a guitar's like a necessity or something- and then you'll have to awkwardly explain that your fingers hurt to not be found out for your lie.

Don't Lie.
Well, you can lie sometimes. For instance: telling people you are a writer at the show "30 Rock" is a funny lie. Telling someone you love them when you don't: Not so good. Lie carefully and always for creative effect.

Always love your sister Melissa because she was a writer on 30 Rock and can probably buy you a lot of stuff.
Just kidding. But know that I made these mistakes for you. And I cherish the day that you all were born. And I'm so lucky you are in my life.

That's totally not a lie.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Once more for Equality. With Feeling.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I grew up in a small town in an even smaller house and went to the tiniest high school you can imagine.  (I'm not joking. I'm friends on Facebook with my entire graduating class. There are about 6 1/2 of us.)
My town had the quintessential makings of small-towness. We had a general store where I would buy chocolate milk on the way to school. We had a penny candy store on the river that was run by the town's beloved Sarge and his son who was, in fact, a pedophile that lived in the back room. I spent many happy afternoons walking along the beach before stopping into Sarge's and picking out 100 stale penny candies that I paid for with a crumbled dollar bill I kept shoved into my sneaker. I rode my bike past boy's houses on the lake. I acted out shows in my backyard with friend. I tested out the electric fence that kept in the horses across the road, sacrificing a bird to see if it was on. (Sorry, PETA.) My fingers were almost always stained with blackberries, my shoulders always sunburned, and I lived a sheltered and idyllic life.

And then I met Justin when I went to high school.

Justin was friendly and fun, a spark-plug who sometimes wore eyeliner to school to match his cape. I was desperately in love and thrilled with the fact that my Mom let me go out with him alone for "dates." She would stand in the kitchen as Justin and I rehashed all the gossip from school that day and raise her eyebrows when I asked if we could go to Friendly's for a soda. "Sure." She would carefully reply, as I wondered why she didn't seem to care that I was going out with a boy. "Just- have fun. Lock the door when you come in."

"What if we're super late?" I'd press, and she'd shake her head, confused, as she patted meatloaf into a pan.

"I'm sure you won't be."

She was right of course, Justin was gay and I had no idea at the time. I had no idea because my town didn't exactly have a community where gay people felt free enough to be themselves. Justin grew up in the same small town and disappeared after a breakdown his junior year. It took me years to realize that he was broken down by the community, by a family that couldn't accept him, and he faded away into the folds of society while we ignorantly (and not so ignorantly) stood and watched.

It still haunts me to this day.

I moved away to Berkeley, California, and quickly was swept up into an environment and culture that was so accepting of everyone all the time. It wasn't even about the gay community. All sexual orientations, all religions, all shades, all walks of life- in Berkeley you were loved AND hated, accepted AND spit on equally. It was nirvana. It was the place that I could walk through campus with a police officer, chatting about the safety lecture I had just attended, and as we were caught in a cloud of pot smoke from a barefoot grad student 2 feet in front of us, the officer gently moved me to the side. "Oh, let's get down wind from this guy, unless you have potato chips in your bag." It was a place that accepted the green-haired angry conservative man that came to rant about the war every day in the main quad. I'd watch bleeding liberals leave him wrapped sandwiches and cups of coffee as he marched around, screaming his argument out on forgiving ears. It was a place that I could hang out with my guy friend Andrew and no one stopped to ask if we were a couple? Was he gay? Was he straight? Because no one cared.

In Berkeley I felt reborn, I felt renewed, and I felt like my Christian faith actually came into play in this city more so than in the small, white, "straight" town that I grew up in. The whole point of Christ's message was to "Love One Another"...and I was getting to see it put into action every day.

My conservative family was harder to convince about this message, and there were many family gatherings that ended in tears and me sloppily trying to illustrate how twisted it was that we were not a "Christian" community that embraced everyone. I have to admit, as an alley to the LGBT community, I did a bad job in my support. I picked fights. I got angry and hurled insults. I did, essentially, the very thing that goes against the message of love. It took me years and quiet, intelligent conversations to finally feel like my voice had been heard. And with my voice the voice of millions. And then today something amazing happened.

My conservative sister offered up her voice in the support of equality. She posted a banner on her Facebook page- on This Very Important Day- that simply said that she was for marriage equality for all.

I immediately commented: "Really?! I am so proud!"

To which she responded: "God, Melissa. I have a gay friend you know. I even have a black one."

It's a small step, but a giant one at the same time. And all we need to do is keep stepping one foot in front of the giant step or small step at a time...until we reach the goal.