How do I begin this post? There are so many places I could start this story. I could start with how I spent most of my life thinking I would never get married, because I would never meet someone who would possibly love me enough to want to spend the rest of her life with me. Or how it would never be possible for me to get married even if I did, because a “real” marriage wasn’t ever going to be legal for gay people. Or how for years I didn’t even allow myself to daydream about a wedding or a life of marriage to someone I loved because that (for a myriad of reasons) was a complete waste of time.

Or, more simply, I could begin this story with how I had not a clue that my girlfriend Clay was going to propose to me this past weekend, because she is an incredibly brilliant (and sneaky) planner. And how I broke down sobbing the minute she pulled the ring out of her pocket and handed it to me because everything I spent so many years thinking would never happen is now happening.

I came out when I was 23 years old, the year after I graduated from college. All told, I’ve been living as an out lesbian for 21 years. It took 17 years of those years for me to meet the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, and who wants to spend the rest of her life with me.

And here I am at age 44, with a beautiful ring on my finger making plans already for a 2013 wedding that might actually be recognized as legal in California by the time we exchange vows if the timing is right.

To me, this is everything. It is the sky and the moon and stars. It is my {secret} wildest dream.

I love you, Clay Walsh. Thank you for making my dreams come true.

I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with you.