"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...."
I met Travis a little over fifteen years ago on an antiquated website you may have heard of called AOL. This was in its heyday when it was a sensation, one of the most popular internet destinations, before it merged with Time Warner and fell from grace, becoming the prime business case study for failed mergers. Those of us of a certain age remember the screeching sounds of modems connecting to dial-up connections. And then being greeted, if you were lucky, with "You've got mail!" We met in what was called a "chat room" that was kinda like a virtual bar. This was really before the tech boom (and bust), with its subsequent broadband connections, webcams, ubiquitous mobile devices and OkCupid that we have now. Ah, those were the days.
Both of us were turning corners in our lives, me following a different career path and Travis getting out of an ill-fated marriage. We were lucky to find one another and helped each other on a newer, brighter path. I remember waiting nervously to meet him for the first time at a coffeeshop in Houston, where I lived. He had driven the four hours and 250 miles from Dallas to meet me that weekend. We found we had so much in common, from our values and interests to our feelings about commitment and family. Before he left to go back home, he gave me a gift, since the next day was my birthday. It was a book of poetry, which I cherish to this day, as a memento of the beginning of our relationship.
We both came from solid, middle class backgrounds and close-knit families, with two siblings each. We knew we would have liked to start a family, but being gay, resigned ourselves to adoption "one day." After all, I myself was adopted and wanted to provide a home, family and opportunities for some other child in the future. In the meantime, we focused on our careers and building a life for ourselves together. Along the way, our family expanded with the addition of our fur kids.
We got Gracie from the Humane Society, and I feel like she knew she was rescued and was eternally grateful. She was the smartest, most loyal, obedient and loving dog I've ever met. She passed away three years ago. Rest in peace, Gracie, the canine love of my life.
Shortly after we got Gracie, Travis and I began to work longer hours and traveled more for both work and leisure. We decided to get Gracie a sister and play companion, Kiona, which is Native American for "brown hills," though she is actually more auburn.
A few years later, we rescued Cheyenne from a puppy mill. We suspect she was the runt of her litter, as she was the only one left of her siblings and was being terrorized by the breeder's children. She was so timid and afraid of any sudden movements and was startled by any small noises. Since she was so shy, we named her Shy Anne, or Cheyenne. To this day she is still very docile and submissive, but extremely sweet, despite the mischievous look she has below.
Finally, there's Zoey. She's part wolf, part husky (as evidenced from her bi eyes). Zoey joined our family after Gracie passed away. We had fostered another wolf-hybrid, and after reading about the breed, were attracted to their beauty, intelligence, spirit, and other great qualities. Can you spot her in her camouflage vest?
Even though we love our pets with all our hearts, our dogs have limits. While they love us back unconditionally, they do not have the same capacity for communication, development, and growth as humans. So in the next post, I'll talk about our path to surrogacy in India.
Little did we know all those years ago that the burgeoning internet that brought two boys together, would fifteen years later enable us to make our family complete with the help of compassionate strangers halfway around the world, in a country far, far away.