It was raining when I woke up at 7 a.m. Saturday. My partner, Tommy, was still fast asleep. He’s a night owl, and I knew he’d gotten to bed late.
I was tired, too. I was tired, it was wet and cold, and Tommy was asleep.
Running the YMCA 5K seemed less and less appealing by the moment.
I’d planned it several days earlier while interviewing Jim Kampman for the lifestyle page story on a YMCA program that helps people go from sedentary to running in short races.
To my delight and surprise, Tommy said he’d do it too.
A word on Tommy: He was an Olympic hopeful mogul skier as a teen and since then works out about as frequently as I change my tires. Yet he still has the physique of a college decathlete.
Time and again I’ve tried to persuade him to try a triathlon with me or some other event, knowing that he’d finish in an enviable position, and he always considered it and then declined.
But he’s on a health kick of sorts, and it tipped the scale in my favor. He said he’d do it, and I’d been pretty excited until I woke up tired and saw the rain.
I very much doubted Tommy’s willingness to get out and run that morning would survive upon viewing the weather. So confident was I that I flopped back down in bed, sighed to a half-conscious Tommy that it was raining, and prepared to go back to sleep.
“What time is it?” Tommy suddenly sounded alert. “Oh, gosh, we’d better get ready.”
And so it was that two hours later we trotted up to the registration desk with only minutes to spare, joining about 400 people in Lake Tye Park in a chilly wet wind.
Upon hearing “Go!” I patted Tommy on the shoulder and told him to have a good run, and I shuffled into my 11-minute mile pace that for years has resisted all attempts at training and improvement.
The course went around Lake Tye, down the boulevard and then doubled back on itself to the park again. Just as I headed down the boulevard section, pleased that I was still running, at least, with only a mile to go, here came Tommy toward me in the other lane, headed for the finish line.
We came home damp and chilled and pleased with ourselves. Tommy was refreshing his computer screen every few minutes, waiting for the results to come up. When they did, he found he’d placed sixth in his age group and 30th overall, and ran at a pace just above a 7.5-minute mile. This from a guy of 40 who doesn’t even own a pair of proper running shoes and jogged once all of last year.
I, of course, for all that I’m in the gym doing cardio five days a week, finished solidly in the middle of the pack.
I was feeling a bit like I’d won a prize anyway, though. There’s something truly wonderful about sharing an activity with your partner, reveling in the satisfaction of meeting a goal and making plans to do it again.
And there is really something amazingly great about seeing your partner exceed his own expectations for himself. Tommy is now thinking that, if he trained, he could win a race or two.
I know he could.
I have an announcement to make.
When he and I were aboard the U.S.S. Eisenhower aircraft carrier off the coast of Pakistan this summer, there to play music as part of a USO tour, he did something that made what was already one of the coolest days of my life truly unforgettable.
He had slipped a ring into his suitcase and when we were settling into our cabins, he presented the ring and asked me to marry him.
Anyone who knows me at all knows that you can not do better than to propose to me aboard an aircraft carrier loaded with F18s in the Persian Gulf.
I haven’t mentioned our engagement in the paper because I didn’t know how R-74 was going to go. I have a lot of gay friends and some would like to get married and I would feel like a bit of a turkey celebrating my engagement in front of my friends who haven’t the choice.
But last week’s polls show R-74 as very likely to pass.
So I have every confidence that by the time we get around to getting married next year, some of my gay friends will already be lawfully wed.
They too have wonderful relationships filled with partnership and things they enjoy doing together. Some of them have been together for decades. I look forward to the day when they, if they choose, can say yes to a marriage proposal, too.
Last week, I mailed my ballot with my vote for marriage equality in the state of Washington.
Tommy did the same.
I picked a winner.