Return with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear, actually twenty years ago this week, to meet Pretty who magically changed from being a close friend and confidante before the spontaneous trip to Cancun pictured above in February, 2001 to a woman who was hotter than the salsa we had with dinner at La Destileria the first night we were there. And trust me, that salsa was hot.
Pretty owned a feminist bookstore called Bluestocking Books in Columbia when we first met in the early 1990s – a small independent bookstore devoted to providing alternative literature mixed with the classics. Bluestocking quickly became known as a safe place for people seeking information on the growing queer community in South Carolina with the extra bonus of an attractive young lesbian proprietor who greeted everyone with a beautiful smile.
Pretty was “out” in a conservative state in a tumultuous era. She was ahead of her time with Bluestocking which closed after three years, but her contribution to the LGBTQ community was recognized and appreciated. She served on the original board of directors for the SC Gay and Lesbian Business Guild formed in 1993 and was the second president of that organization. Her passion for equality was the catalyst for an activist’s life, a passion we shared professionally over the decade that was the 1990s.
At the turn of the century, change was in the air. It was like everyone suddenly realized time was passing faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and if Superman and Wonder Woman were unlikely to intervene in the chaos and/or uninspiring sameness of our lives, we needed to make radical changes ourselves.
Both Pretty and I were in long term lesbian relationships that experienced seismic shifts as the first year of the new century came to a close. Our partners began looking for love in other places. Pretty had the additional drama associated with sharing custody of a fifteen year old son who she adored, an athletically gifted teenager who was the quarterback of his high school football team and the starting pitcher for their baseball team. She mixed her real estate appointments in her new career as a realtor with her tennis league schedules. Tennis had priority status.
The trip to Cancun was the launching pad for the most adventurous ride of my life. I had no way of knowing then that the gorgeous intelligent intellectually inquisitive woman with the wonderful sense of humor who grew up in New Prospect, South Carolina would marry the woman from deep in the heart of Richards, Texas and that we would be together for the next twenty years sharing a life unimaginable to me as a child. Yet, here we are – still laughing at each other’s jokes, still loving, still standing. And yes, still eating Mexican food as often as our older appetites allow; but now with the additional delight of sharing quesadillas with our sixteen months old granddaughter who is perfection personified. Life is good.
How do I love thee, Pretty? Let me count the ways, and let me begin with the spicy salsa you have always brought to our family life together for two decades. Unbelievable. Inconceivable. Somewhere in a distant childhood we must have done something good.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Pretty.
Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.