When I was little, my favorite TV show was “Leave It To Beaver” (1957-1963). The show focuses on young Theodore Cleaver (also known as “The Beaver”), his brother Wally and their parents, June and Ward. The Cleavers’ life is perfect in that white picket fence sort of way: Wally loves sports, June and Ward never fight and Beaver gets to run around their small suburban utopia. I always found it very comforting.
I know a few things about my future: I know I will always have at least one dog at home. I know I will have an NYC apartment with giant windows. I know I’ll make brunch for my friends on Sunday mornings. I know I’ll either teach or work with animals. I know I’ll buy a bright-red racing bike with a wagon-attachment on the back so I can drag my dogs, a beagle and a wheaten terrier around the loop in Central Park.
I know I’ll get married, though I don’t know to whom. I know that if my wife tries to bring a cat into our apartment, I will divorce her in 30 seconds flat. I know I’ll be a mother and I know that I’ll adopt my kids. I know I want to be a foster parent, but my mom says I don’t have the emotional strength to say goodbye to a foster child I’ve come to love. I know she’s right about that, too.
I know that I am a competent young woman, but I know that I will get fired from at least one job in my life. I know I will take it personally. I know I’ll still talk to some of my friends in 20 years, but I know I have some friends with whom I’ll lose contact after graduation. I know losing touch with them will make me sad. I know my kids will hate me sometimes and that it’ll hurt me. I know that marriage takes compromise, so I know I might have to move out of the city or, God forbid, get a cat.
I was in the ninth grade when it occurred to me that I wasn’t destined for a Beaver Cleaver cookie-cutter life. I was at the NYC Gay Pride Parade when I realized that this was not “the plan.” I was not supposed be in the East Village. I was not supposed to be holding hands with a girl. I was not supposed to have condoms thrown at me by some guy in a choke collar and a sequined Speedo.
The realization that I am not destined for a “normal” life was a crushing and depressing one at first, but I have come to embrace it wholeheartedly. It took me quite a few years to get to this point, but I have experienced enormous growth since I got to college.
So if my picket fence is an ugly shade of beige, I know I’ll have friends and family to sit by me while I repaint it.