Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How we met

Here in response to popular demand -- okay, in response to a single suggestion -- is the story of how Tom and I met.

In 2003, I was living in the Discalced Carmelite residence in Hyde Park, the Edith Stein House of Studies. One of my friends -- the Michelangelo about whom I have written before -- lived in the parish that the [other] Carmelites staffed a few blocks from where my community lived. It was through him that I met Tom. Tom was also active in the parish, having at one time been director of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program, the one that adult converts take in preparation for admission to the Catholic church. As it turned out, I knew his ex-father-in-law already because he frequently attended events sponsored by the organization I worked for on campus at the University of Chicago.

I had heard him mentioned by another friar as Michelangelo's friend, and I had assumed they were an item. They had been good friends for many years and were very close, although the relationship was not a romantic one. I hung out with Michelangelo and a group of folks in Hyde Park, and Tom happened to be part of that group, but I did not meet him for quite a while. He maintained an apartment in Hyde Park but spent much of his time in Detroit. 

Over time, I got to know Tom well. He was fascinating, a former lawyer who was running his own IT consulting firm with a friend and working full-time on contract at GM headquarters in Detroit. He was recently divorced after thirty years of marriage, had two adult daughters and two sons, one of whom had just graduated from high school and started school in Santa Fe. The older son, Peter, who would eventually live with us in the Dells for a few years, was in California at the time trying to decide whether to go to college or pursue something else.
Perhaps strangest of all, when the Carmelites had purchased the house in Hyde Park a few years earlier, Tom had been one of the lawyers involved in the transaction because his firm represented the Mormons who owned the place. He told me he was distantly related to Edith Stein through his mother's family. Sometimes when they dropped me off at the house, Tom would look through the glass panels beside the door at the portrait of Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and say, "Say hello to Aunt Edith for me."

Over a period of months, we got to know one another better. Our relationship was friendly but that was all. It was only after I left the monastery in 2004 that things began to move in the direction that led to us eventually becoming partners.

So, no meeting-cute, no magic moment to point to, just meeting through friends at church, hanging out and becoming friends, talking about the challenges of being an older gay man  and over time realizing that perhaps we were becoming more than friends. Not the stuff of rom-coms but the stuff, I suspect, of most people's lives.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael for the warm and touching account of you and Tom coming together. I'm sure that all your readers will appreciate what you have written. The photograph must be of your wedding which, I must add, you never mentioned in the blog but another blog (now defunct) did so.

W. F.

Mitchell is Moving said...

This is a sweet, slow, gentle, romantic story. I'm glad you found each other. Say "hello" to Aunt Edith for me.

anne marie in philly said...

what a handsome couple you make!

since I am a fairly new reader, how long have you been married and are you both chicago natives?

Michael Dodd said...

Anne Marie,
We have been married since March 2014, although we have been a couple (or, "a pair" as I once told someone) since sometime in 2004. Tom was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Wisconsin. I was born in Gainesville, Georgia and grew up in East Texas. After serving in Vietnam, Tom went to law school at the University of Chicago, married Helen and they spent most of their married life in Hyde Park. I moved to Chicago in 1998 and met Tom five years later.

Ur-spo said...

Why this is a lovely story indeed.
Most folks I think meet this way, not some star-struck eye contact across a crowded room etc.

anne marie in philly said...

oh my, such a wonderful story! thank you!

Anonymous said...

Yes. It is a wonderful story. I'm glad you shared it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story about how you became a couple. Yes, it's the stuff of real life. I was very curious but thought I would never ask. Have a great day and keep warm 😊