Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Wife

I’ve tried referring to Rose as my wife occasionally, but it feels…off. Granted, we’re not married, but mostly because we can’t be, legally. Calling her my “partner” makes me feel like we’re incorporating a business. “Girlfriend” is what we usually use, but it seems inadequate in light of the 12 years we’ve been together. I want to use “wife” in a normal, casual way; but “wife” means both more and less for us than it would for your traditional heterosexual setup.

Laurel Hechanova has articulated the calculus over what word to use in ways that I’ve attempted to but never really completed or bothered to record. Trying to run this calculus on the fly is difficult. Do read. Words mean things.

From an outsider’s perspective, say, from the purview of a citizen whose great-great-grandfathers were land owners, voters, arbiters of the unamended Constitution, we spend a lot of time lamenting. We deflect our own savagery by blaming it on their ancestors. Our hearing turns conveniently selective when they insist that they are not their ancestors. They know full well that, after our brief exchange — wherein they will glumly wonder, How can black people be so unforgiving? — they will go home and turn a key in the lock of a house they’ve either purchased outright or will pay off before the age of 30. They know how easily they qualified for their low-interest mortgage. They know their parents’ pristine credit, ensured by their grandfather’s investments and assets, inherited from their great-grandfathers dividends, insured by their great-great-grandfather’s land ownership, made that possible.

And that’s just the beginning.

How the 3/5ths Live.