Let's get gay married!
Ok, where do we begin? First, is it legal?
Until June 26, 2015, and the overturning of DOMA, gay marriage was legally banned in thirteen states. Then, of course, there is the question of who is going to propose. Are both partners getting rings? Do you even want rings? Are you sure you want to subscribe to the heteronormative institution of marriage and governmental regulation of love? There are a plethora of questions to consider.
Lindsey and I talked about getting married about 10 months into our time together. After slowly breaking down the emotional barricade I assembled after my last relationship, I was able to see that I enjoyed Lindsey’s company as much more than just a Tinder date. She was quick enough to keep up with me and as passionate about life as I am. I remember the moment in December when I realized that I wanted to ask her if she would be interested in “actually dating”. It then took me a few weeks of staring at her, with the words caught in my throat, to follow through.
Call me, beep me, if you want to reach me.
My flight back from the Christmas holiday landed in New York on December 31st. Lindsey was on Jeopardy, which despite the name, is not a fun trivia game, but a trick where doctors have to keep their pagers on and might get called into work at any moment. Even with the circumstances, we still decided to spend New Year's Eve together.
New Years Eve, 2016:
Biking to friend’s party in Brooklyn, we belted off-tune Spice Girls at the top of our lungs. The night filled us up with wine, cheese, and warm conversation. Shortly after midnight, feeling satisfied with being almost thirty and with no desire to venture to any Bushwick warehouse party, we headed home. Curling up together that night holding each other, I felt as if Alex Trebek personally congratulated me for winning.
Lindsey experiencing a mild cheese coma.
The next morning, I woke up before Lindsey, and as the sun from my bedroom spilled onto her face, that familiar feeling in the back of my throat came back. This woman is remarkable. She is brilliant, funny as hell, and the only one wild enough to challenge me to a chugging contest within an hour of meeting me. How could I not say something?
I nudged her awake and said, “ Lindsey, when we're old, it’s going to be hard to remember stuff, will you go out with me?”
“What?” she said.
The words stuck in my throat did a backflip and came out as a grade A case of word vomit nonsense.
“I mean, today is January 1st, it’s an easy date to remember for an anniversary. In August, we will know we’ve been dating for eight months. November will make 11 months. So when we can’t remember stuff, we can fall back on the calendar to help!” I rambled on.
“You’re a dork, of course, I’ll go out with you.”
I exhaled a sigh of relief. I did not anticipate wanting to be a relationship again. With a Google calendar reminder on my phone for my 33rd birthday to co-parent children with one of my best friends, I was dead set on becoming a 50-year old spinster.
The last week of January, Lindsey’s family visited Brooklyn. We played street hockey together, shared meals, and they sealed the deal by introducing me to code names— my new favorite game. I saw why Lindsey was such a remarkable individual; her family was also wonderful. Headed home in the backseat of an uber from Lindsey’s apartment, I started crying.
Girls vs. Boys. We won.
I love her.
I called up my Mom and Denise, recounting through my tears how this fantastic fireball woman stole my heart. I knew that it would be at least three more weeks before I told her how I felt.
Despite the recognition of my feelings, a roadblock stood in the way— Lindsey was set to move to D.C. in July for her residency. A fact that, when I first met Lindsey, gave me such clarity was now a source of confusion.
“She’s only here until July, nothing will come of this,” I thought.
There was no way that I wanted to be in a long distance relationship, and the vulnerability that comes with moving for someone else’s career petrified me.
In April, I found out that I earned a Fulbright scholarship and would spend spring 2018 living in Amsterdam. This brought even more complications— long distance D.C. to Brooklyn was one thing, but D.C. to Amsterdam— that’s 4,000 miles, and what about after the Fulbright?
For Lindsey, it was simple.
“Why don’t you just move to D.C.?”
“Just move? To D.C.?”
I built a second family in New York with teammates from college, a high school rugby club, and ride-or-die hockey friends here; moving was not that simple.
But as the months passed, I knew the answer.
Lindsey is a force— her fiery hair matches her vigor. We aligned our schedules and spent every free moment together, biking around New York City, playing hockey together, hanging out with friends, and going on weekend trips. I could not ask for a better companion. As my hesitation dissolved, I decided I would make the move.
Surefire way to my heart: come to 11pm hockey games and drink in the parking lot with my team.
Knowing this relationship evolved into way more than just a Tinder date, we started talking about plans for the future. Nothing concrete, but we both agreed that somewhere along the line marriage was something we wanted. When July came around, we packed up a Uhaul and moved Lindsey to D.C. I spent two weeks there, finishing my Master’s thesis and soaking up the sun, before heading back to New York for our first chunk of long distance.
In October, after meeting in Detroit for Lindsey’s sister’s baby shower, she told me, “I’m only going to ask you once— what is your ring size?”
Oh baby, baby.
On the way home, I stopped at an airport jewelry store, tried on a ring, and texted her my reply.
I also started to think offensive strategy— how was I going to propose.
In December, I packed up my life in Brooklyn and consolidated it into a storage unit in D.C. In place of getting each other presents for Christmas, Lindsey and I decided that we would give each other experiences. Lindsey quickly reserved January 1st, because there was an outdoor ball hockey tournament planned for the morning. I laughed, as I thought about how quickly her addiction to hockey developed.
New Years Eve, 2017:
Lindsey was on a 24-hour overnight shift at the hospital. For New Years, my two friends, Michelle and Cherie, came down to visit from New York. We hosted some people at Lindsey’s apartment (sans Lindsey), drank some wine, ate some cheese, and played code names. At midnight, I kissed my dog Chicot (closed mouth to avoid giardia) and headed to bed shortly after. Giving Michelle and Cherie Lindsey’s bed, I curled up on the couch.
New Years morning, Lindsey returned from work around 8 am. She came over to the couch and kissed me, “morning baby, how was your night?” Sleepily, I extended my arms and legs, stretching my body out over the couch. “It was good; we played codenames, how was work?”
“Amber, when we’re old it will be hard to remember stuff— will you marry me?”
She pulled out a hockey puck shaped ring box and opened the top.
“What? What? Is this real?” The words once again caught in my throat.
“Well, will you?” she asked.
“Yes, yes, of course!”
I was astounded. Once again, for Lindsey the path was simple.
“I figured if I did not ask today, I would have to wait a whole nother year,” she said.
She explained that initially, she planned to propose at the hockey tournament, but after learning the organizer cancelled hockey due to the low temperatures, she constructed an alternative proposal, a perfect mirror image of me fumbling for words a year before. We celebrated the rest of the day, calling up family and friends to share the news.
I am a typical Type A planner, I strategically schedule and organize projects down to the intricate detail. How did she manage to stupefy me with such ease?
When I thought about it more deeply, it was no longer shocking. Lindsey lives like she plays hockey, in a blink, she is by you, and without pause, will throw an elbow into your gut in the corner. Feisty and frank, she will tell you exactly what is on her mind, even if she disagrees with you. Lindsey is also extraordinarily compassionate. On trips to Trader Joe’s, she frequently picks up black licorice, a treat that my Dad would always have handy. As I overanalyzed every little aspect of moving to another country, she was attentive to my uncertainty and reassured me that I was a confident, independent woman, and would be able to adapt to any situation. Asking me to marry her was the clear next step, she loved me, I was leaving, and she wanted to lock it down. Simple.
Previously, I planned to propose to Lindsey in November under the guise of a thirtieth birthday party, but her surprise foiled that. There was also the question of the ring. Lindsey is trendier than I am, and selecting such jewelry without her input seemed like an impossible mission.
Lying in bed that night I asked, “Do you want a ring?”
“Yea, I would like a ring” she replied.
Lindsey showed me the rings she was looking at on her hunt and said that out of all of them, the one she was most drawn to was the same one she selected for me. A thin band with a baguette cut stone.
We ordered her a similar model, but in gold and black— trendy, I know.
It arrived three weeks later after I already left for the Fulbright. Knowing that picking up a ring up from the stack of mail and putting it on your hand is a bit anticlimactic, we decided that she would bring the ring when she visited Amsterdam in April.
Disclaimer: not all gay people are white.
I had three months to construct a counter-proposal.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, and if Lindsey and I were going to conform to the institution of marriage— or at least legally— there was no better place for a proposal.
Two key things stood in my way:
1. When I am excited about something, I am awful at keeping secrets.
2. I wanted her to be genuinely surprised.
I knew that if she brought the ring to Amsterdam and gave it to me, she would be on guard whenever I crouched down.
I concluded that if I found a second ring I could propose at Schiphol the instant she deplaned. This scenario eliminated the potential for me spilling the beans, and after taking a red-eye flight, anything is surprising.
Using the original ring as a model, I scoured the Amsterdam antique shops for the perfect replacement. I landed on a hammered band made by two women jewelry designers in Antwerp, Belgium. However, the best part was the stone — a deep red garnet. Following the stamp of approval from Lindsey’s two best friends, I purchased the ring.
After some coordination, I finalized my plan. I would stand at the arrival gate with a sign that said “Dr. Migliore” on one side and “Will you marry me?” on the other. Since Lindsey surprised me, I figured that the only thing more shocking than a post-red-eye proposal was a post-red-eye proposal with a flash mob of my friends from Amsterdam. I also knew that it was be essential to include our families. After some lengthy emails explaining my vision, I eagerly awaited April 1st, the day that Lindsey’s flight arrived at Schiphol. I visualized the proposal during yoga, biking through the city, before I went to sleep at night— always smiling and thinking about how wonderful it was going to be to reunite after three months apart.
April 1st, 2018:
I woke up around 8 am, excited the day was finally here. My roommate, Solene, graciously accommodated for my anxiety and we arrived at Schiphol at 11:24 am. Lindsey’s flight was scheduled to get in at 12:38. Pulling out my computer, I tested the free WiFi, calling myself on Google Hangouts to ensure the connection was strong enough for our families to watch the proposal live. As my friends showed up to the airport, I briefed everyone on the events, practicing the flipping of the sign and cue for the music at least a dozen times.
Lindsey’s flight arrived ten minutes early at 12:28. Standing paralyzed by the arrival door, I held the sign with the garnet ring in an antique box in my right hand. With my friends positioned around the arrival gate, strangers were starting to catch on that I was going to propose. A couple of women started filming, as passengers from other flights walked through the terminal.
Thirty minutes passed.
I stood in my place, still frozen. My friend Anchorette was holding my phone and in charge of controlling the flash mob music. She walked over to me, “Lindsey texted you.”
“Waiting for my bags, this is taking forever, people at JFK would be rioting,” she wrote.
With my hands shaking uncontrollably, I tried to text her back, “Just come here now.”
I moved back to my position, just staring at the automatic doors. A couple of other redheads passed through, and I looked around to my friends shaking my head, “not her.” After all, they would all be meeting Lindsey for the first time today.
Finally, over an hour later, carrying her hockey bag on her back, she walked through the door.
She scanned the crowd and our eyes locked. She rushed towards me to hug me, and I pushed her away, flipping my sign over, I got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?”
“What? What? What are you doing on the floor?”
“Will you marry me?” I repeated.
“Yes, yes of course!” she said, tears started to fill her eyes, as I stood up to finally embrace her.
As we held each other close, the arrival terminal became a cacophony of sounds, “Fireball” by Pitbull started to play, and the sound of crepe rainbow pom poms and kazoos filled the air.
“What? What is going on?” Lindsey looked around and started laughing.
“Surprise,” I smiled, “look who is over here.” I directed her to the computer where she waved to family and friends.
We toasted in the airport with glasses of rose and snacked on traditional Dutch stroopwafels.
“Were you surprised?” I asked her.
“Surprised? You scared the shit out of me!” she exclaimed.
“Perfect,” a grin covered my face.
We headed back to my apartment, holding each other the entire way home.
Post-proposal, people congratulated us, but also asked, “Weren’t you already engaged?”
Well, yea, we were already engaged, but we are already changing the rules of traditional marriage by being gay. We might as well shake them up a little more by having a double proposal.
Being queer gives us this unique opportunity to form what marriage means for us. How are we going to walk down the aisle? Are we both going to carry children? How does maternity leave work with two Moms?
We get to decide what pieces of traditional marriage we want to subscribe to and what other parts should we toss out the window or change. On our route to getting gay married, I do not doubt that we will continue to blaze a new path together.
You don't have to be queer to shake up the institution of marriage! Check out this Man Repeller article about women taking charge and proposing.