I was going through my early morning ritual of coffee, online newspapers, and more coffee when I noticed an article about cohabitation in one of my favorite Progressive news sites, Miccheckradio.org. The article quotes from a recent report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States,” that more people than ever are living together without being married, those who do move in together wind up married within three years, and notably, that between the years 1987 to 2002, the percentages of women between ages 35 and 39 who had ever cohabited doubled, from 30 percent to 61 percent.
Well, this made me think of a few things, two things in particular. One, unless you live in DC, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts, marriage for some of us is a different Proposition all together. And two, if you are a lesbian, this is no great breaking news. My Sapphic sisters have been shacking up since the beginning of time. I’m pretty sure I read recently that the Director of Egyptian Antiquities found a U-haul hieroglyph inside the walls of Cleopatra’s tomb. Had the CDC included in their interview a category of lesbian and bisexual women, I hypothesize the percentages would have been much higher. Is it economics? I doubt it. When my partner and I met, combining our assets did afford both of us greater financial flexibility, and since we are approximately the same size, our wardrobes immediately doubled. Though this fact is a shared economic perk, it is not why we decided to live together. Then why during a first passionate kiss, instead of hearing fireworks in our non-hetero heads, we so often hear the monotone beep of a moving truck backing up? Well, ask a lesbian.
Beginning when I was seventeen, I discovered women wanted to come home with me. Now, this was a wonderful cognizance until I realized they wanted to stay. Though that jazz saxophone player added a nice syncopation to the whoopee spot, I had a difficult time convincing her that though the audition was nice, she was not part of the house band. I’ll admit, for a myriad of reasons, I was a bit commitment phobic. Superficial relationships were a defense mechanism, convincing myself I didn’t want to be the substitute security blanket for anyone. In other words, I was a stereotypical man. Not literally, of course, because I love being a woman, just emotionally the weaker sex. Straight female friends of mine were constantly lamenting the fact they wanted more from their relationships. They would bring their toothbrush on the second date and a change of clothes to the third…just in case. One of my friends admitted she would purposely leave something in a date’s car just as an excuse to call him or drop by. Then it dawned on me…you don’t accidentally leave an alto wind instrument in someone’s car…not in a two-seat convertible! Women…we are all the same.
I joke about the lesbian U-haul mystique, but honestly, I think it’s just a stereotype often perpetuated by my own sarcasm. I don’t think female same-sex relationships are necessarily any different than our hetero counterparts. Women are beautifully sentimental creatures on their own, but when paired together, not only double, but logarithmically intensify that innate emotional desire to nurture, comfort, and yes, nest. I would like to believe that I was immune to such a siren’s song, but I did succumb to that one special woman who breached my independent stream of consciousness and convinced me to book that platinum third-finger house band for a long-term engagement.
As far as the CDC report goes, it comes as no surprise that more women are choosing cohabitation…whatever the relationship. Economic hard times and difficult circumstances tend to encourage a sentimental psyche to do what it does best. I can’t really comment on the report’s conclusions regarding a greater propensity toward marriage because I don’t live in one those six areas of the United States where same-sex unions are legal. Constitutionally, I am no one’s wife. But I have to say, I do love my life…and all that effeminate, emotional jazz.