Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Folks Who Live On The Hill

I was asked not to write about our wedding. And I haven't.

The requirements we met to satisfy the state, the traditions we chose to uphold, the words we selected to say to each other are all sacred to us, now even more so as our very right to be together in this manner is threatened.

This past election day I sat teary-eyed and hyperventilating, watching the results of democracy in action. My fellow countrymen had spoken with their collective hearts and minds in a way I'd never seen before and I was completely bowled over by the outcome. The man who inspired this avalanche of emotion spoke eloquently, accepting the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead of us, and attempted to make sense of the events of the day.

I listened incredulously as he attributed his election to the:

"young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled; Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals...".
When we first met David, the gentleman who joined us together, he asked our reasons for wanting to get married. I explained that the two of us could not have been more committed to each other. A ceremony and a piece of paper with an official seal would not change that or make it any more so. What we wanted was our place at the table; and here was our chance to take that seat, no more, no less.
Now I'm a fairly basic man; my wants and needs are simple. There's an old song I know, written way back in 1937, sung by people as diverse as Irene Dunne and Nina Simone, and then forgotten. It has always brought tears to my eyes and longing to my heart.
Many men with lofty aims,
Strive for lofty goals,
Others play at smaller games,
Being simpler souls.

I am of the latter brand;
All I want to do,
Is to find a spot of land,
And live there with you.

Someday we'll build a home on a hilltop high,
You and I,
Shiny and new a cottage that two can fill.
And we'll be pleased to be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Someday we may be adding a thing or two,
A wing or two.
We will make changes as any fam'ly will,
But we will always be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Our veranda will command a view of meadows green,
The sort of view that seems to want to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us,
We'll sit and look at the same old view,
Just we two.

Darby and Joan who used to be Jack and Jill,
The folks like to be called,
What they have always been called,
"The folks who live on the hill".
It seemed a dream I could never take part in. Until now.
I will never forget the way Tim and David held me as I struggled through my marriage vows, fighting in vain to stem my tears. Nor I will forget the way Tim looked at me as he bound his life to mine.
These are things that no one can ever take away from me.
Let it be known:
I am prepared to fight.


Frank H said...

Here's Peggy Lee singing the song. It's gorgeous. I have loved its melody and meaning for a long time.

But — more importantly — I believe that regardless of recent attempts to keep us in our place, you and your husband can continue your life together and you will be known to friends, family and neighbors as that loving couple "who used to be Jack and Jill," "the folks who live on the hill."

Supreme11 said...

Well done! I dont know that song.....could u send me an mp3 file....xoxo Erik

Mark said...

Here's Johnny Hartman:

And here's Peggy Lee:

Paul said...

i am ready to fight WITH and FOR all of my friends!

here's some links to my friend's popmuse and bloghungry's posts on the subject. They were recently wed in LA:

bryce said...

way to make me cry at work Mark!


iain said...

As moving and eloquent as ever Mark. I cannot believe how out of step the USA is with the rest of (Western) liberal democracies on this issue, and somewhat ironic given that the Pilgrim fathers sought freedom from religious oppression or did that package include the paradoxical desire to impose religious oppression on others?

Paul said...

i was talking with a friend about this yesterday and she thinks that they should make this a federal issue and have the federal government make EVERYTHING.. both gay and straight.. into civil unions. so you go to city hall to get your civil union and then you work it out however you want with your church for the marriage part. separate church from state, yo!

screw this crap about having voter referendums on the rights of minority groups... THAT'S the unconstituitional part!!

rangergeek said...

A wonderful song, but Jo Stafford's version is my favorite.

Jeff said...

What a great post. And I agree with Paul's comment -- Make ALL unions Civil Unions, and let the churches handle marriage. If Civil Unions are "just as good" as marriage, then there should be no problem, right?

Or is the problem really with giving us equality? Hmmm.

David said...

I'll be manning the barricades tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

I love your soul

Caddy Jean

Will said...

The passing of Prop. 8 seemed like a defeat but just maybe it was a gift, a gift that has given us back our common sense of activism, outrage and determination to beat back the forces of ignorance and bigotry.

May you two be blessed with many [more] years of happiness togetner.

Sebastian said...

A beautiful post. May God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mark... I don't know if you'll ever see this. I'd have loved to send you a personal e-mail, but unfortunately, your address isn't posted here.

I stumbled onto your site from another gay blog I was reading today. I saw your picture posted on his and thought, "Oh my God -- I recognize this guy" and I had to follow the link to your blog. You and I exchanged intense glances perhaps a dozen years ago in a funky card store in the flatiron district and I never got your handsome face out of my head. You see, I was married at the time and not at all out and I found it hard to look you in the eyes. Man, were you sexy. (And I see from the photo posted here that you still are.) It kind of unnerved me and I apologize for not being able to fully reciprocate your stare.

I've seen you a few other times over the years in the Flatiron district -- you were always with someone -- and never dared to approach you, but I wanted to just let you know that you really grabbed my attention in a big way.

(Good luck with your marriage. I'll check back sometime soon to see if you've read this post and have responded.)

Anonymous said...

Funny that I should stumble upon your post while trying to track down the lyrics to "The Folks Who Live on the Hill." As it turns out, it is one of my favorite songs and my favorite version is sung by Mel Tormé on an album called Mel Tormé and Friends: Live at Marty's, New York City. In fact, it was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding. We even lived in a little house on a hill for a spell . . . before she came to realize that she was a lesbian who had been living in denial into her mid-30s.

Needless to say, that changed our relationship, but it didn't destroy it as some expected. While many thought I would be enraged and never want to speak to her again, I couldn't understand why I should not be happy for my best friend who was now more at peace with herself and her life. Sure, the transition was difficult, but it was important for me to maintain our relationship and support her new self-definition.

I am still considered part of her family (perhaps even more than before) and we have become more like siblings than anything else. I even share a rent with he brother, attend family reunions, and spend the holidays with her, her partner, and her family. And while all this seems perfectly natural to us, it is amazing how many find it disconcerting because it doesn't fit into their definition of "family." I imagine that — in some small measure — this is what you face everyday and it disturbs me that people can be so short-sighted and narrow-minded.

When confronted with the question of how I can be okay with this arrangement, I tend to co-op the "Love Makes a Family" slogan and them that love knows no bounds and relationships are dynamic in nature. Labels are so trite and superficial and yet so rudimentary to the way most people understand the world around them. I wish you well and hope you will one day enjoy the acceptance that most take for granted.

— Michael