Friday, December 20, 2013

Episode 19: On Partners

Nothing reminds me of the complex, ambiguous nature of same-sex relationship language quite like a two hour flight from St. Louis to Tampa:

before the plane's wheels had even left the ground, the kind, gentle, presumptuous woman in the seat next to me turned and asked "tell me honey, what does your husband do?"...Cue my first deep sigh of the flight.

Response option #1: "well, my significant other is a..."
There's something about significant other that just feels cold, lacking least for me and for us.

Response option #2: "well, my wife is a..."
Wife language feels a bit off.  It doesn't fit for Sarah or for me. 

Response option #3: "well, my spouse is a..."
Again, a bit distant, a bit cold....spouse just isn't quite it, not in the "Klaskins" household anyway.

Response option #4: "well, my partner is a..."

Oh partner--I have struggled with this word for such a long time. We do not own a law firm. Sarah is not my business partner. She's not my tennis partner. She's not my partner in crime (well, hardly ever) and she's not my partner on a school project (thank the Lord). This word, partner, has felt cold and distant to me in the past, a little aloof, and still not quite right.

It used to, that is, until we took our first winter hike this past week.  The day was perfect--snow on the ground, newly warm temperatures, no ice to be found. All was well and we were content in our warm and snug waterproof hiking boots as we crunch, crunch, crunched our way over the trails at Rock Bridge State Park. 

For awhile it was picturesque; I'm talking made-for-TV-movie, happy-family-montage, winter perfection... until the moment we realized the bridge across the creek had been closed.  The handy "detour" set up by park officials was a detour through the creek-- a detour through the still-kind-of-icy, definitely-full-of-slippery-rocks,  I-grew-up-in-FLORIDA-and-I-didn't-even-know-water-got-this-cold-outside-of-the-freezer creek. Our crunching stopped; I pouted, and then, as Sarah often does, she just kept moving forward.  Putting her fancy boot on the first slippery rock in the creek, and then the next, she started to make her way across. I was (of course) still pouting. I began to wonder just how I was going to "caulk my wagon and forge the river" (Oregon Trail reference anyone?) when Sarah did the most wonderful thing: she turned back around and held out her hand. She held out her hand and said "watch my feet; just step on the rocks I step on and you'll be fine. We've got this." And, sure enough, with her leading the way from rock to rock, we made our way across. 

In that moment, somehow, partner felt just right; it fit as snug and as comfy as our Smart Wool socks.

Because, after all, Sarah is my we-can-do-this (no matter what "this" is), advent-hymn-singing, soon-to-raise-a-family, gardening, painting, laughing, crying, arguing, silly, sad, through-every-season-and-semester-of-this-life partner. 

And so, on my recent flight from my Missouri home to my Florida home, when the sweet old lady asked what my husband did for a living, I paused for a moment, reviewed my options and then replied: 

"Well, my partner Sarah, she's a community organizer and is called to ministry in all of its vast and varied forms." 

"Oh, that's nice honey" the woman replied. 

Yep. It is. It's pretty darn out-of-this-world fantastic. I have a partner and, for that, I am so very thankful. 


  1. Amen, sung as joyfully as I can sing!!!

  2. What a wonderful set of examples!

  3. You kind of inspired me with this post-I'm doing a sermon on partnership at the wedding I'm officiating this Saturday!