Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"From this moment forward, as in days past"

I've read five books so far this (new) decade and I've been pretty pleased with them all.

These include:
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Atul Gawande)
  • The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
  • A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir (Edie Windsor)
  • The Testaments (Margaret Atwood)
  • Blowout (Rachel Maddow). 
Today, I want to talk about Windsor's memoir, primarily because I cried about a million times during it, but also because parts of it were pretty hilarious. Also, if the name sounds familiar, Edie is the Windsor from the US Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, which overturned part of the anti-equality Defense of Marriage Act.

In the book, Windsor recounts a lot of anecdotes about her life as a young lesbian in the pre-Stonewall era, like the following from circa 1950, about being attracted to a woman named Renee and somehow "intuiting" that Renee felt the same way during their flirty tennis matches, where they had a habit of  repeatedly and "accidentally" bumping into each other on the court.
"...[O]ne afternoon when Renee knocked me particularly hard on the elbow and flashed her customary apologetic-yet-flirty grin, I leaned in and said under my breath, 'Do that again, and I'll kiss you on the mouth.'
She looked a little startled and a little shocked, but after class, she came up to me and asked, 'Did you mean it?'
'Yes,' I said, feeling impossibly bold.
'Where can we do that?'"
Windsor then proceeded to clock two Women's Army Corp vets as being a couple and immediately began renting apartment space from them from her hookups with Renee.

Circa 1950! 

Anyway, after 40+ years of being together, Windsor was finally able to legally marry her partner Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007, when Spyer had advanced multiple sclerosis. During their ceremony, their vows included the lines, "With this ring, I thee wed.... from this moment forward, as in days past," acknowledging that they had spent virtually a lifetime together before their relationship and commitment were acknowledgement by a government (even if not their own, yet).

Spyer died in 2009, and shortly thereafter Windsor was hospitalized for stress cardiomyopathy, or what is sometimes called "broken heart syndrome."  Windsor later became more active in the LGBT rights movement and eventually passed away in 2017. I'm glad she lived long enough to experience the win in US v. Windsor, which was a highlight in her life, as it was for so many of us, as well.

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