Together or Separate?

I love when it snows. I love the change in routine, the shared annoyance with the neighbors whom I’ve never met. I know all the reasons to dislike it, the interruption to commute, the inability to get things delivered or find the groceries I prefer, the lack of reliability on the bus schedule. Yet, I think it’s so beautiful to watch the quiet that happens as Seattle completely shuts down, becoming an insolated prisoner to icy roads and thermal underwear. I like the challenge of trying to figure out getting to work, bundling up to walk down the street, and the feeling of fresh powder as it molds itself to the rubber soles of my boots. I’m sure I won’t feel this way next weekend when my Justin Timberlake concert is canceled again, and the grocery stores are still not stocked due to trucks not being able to deliver. Seattle is due to be blanketed with cooler than 35-degree temperatures and snow for the next week. I have coffee, a book, and my work laptop. I’m not sure what else I could need.

Katie and I spent most of yesterday watching snow melt as cautious drivers waded through slush on their way to wherever. Our dear friend shaped Katie’s eyebrows for the first time in-between the tedious task of layering bleach and toner on Katie’s inordinate amount of hair. Katie is blonder than she was before, her face becoming more feminine as framed by perfectly shaped eyebrows. These two things are monumental in their ability to signal for others correctly identifying her pronouns. Our next step is glasses. Glasses will be a game-changer.

After the hair appointment and dropping off our friend back at home, we decided to get burritos for dinner. We had tickets to see The Favourite at Majestic Bay, which, by the way, I would strongly recommend seeing if you haven’t already. While at dinner, I watched as bundled humans waddled on icy sidewalks from one bar or restaurant to another. The wind was strong, blowing snow off the powerlines and from awnings, creating that animated Frozen-esque look, making me wish snow really sparkled the way it does in cartoons.

When it came time for the bill, the server asked if we were together or separate. I’ve noticed we are asked this question more since Katie started transitioning. While it’s polite to not assume any two people at a table are together, I find the shift in formality unsettling. I mentioned it to Katie, asking if she had noticed it also. She beamed back at me in total excitement. She hadn’t really considered it but affirmed my observation and talked about how good it made her feel. I was immediately annoyed that she didn’t notice my own disconcertment on the subject. While part of me can see how cool it is that Katie passes enough for the server to ask at all, why is it that two people of the same gender sitting together are less likely to be assumed together on one bill? This is a very small detail in the grand scope of problems in this world. I know that. I’m still struck by the difference and as Katie observed my deflation while explaining how good she felt, I could see her excitement transform into worry while attempting to guess what I would do next.

I’m still not sure why I feel the way I do. Is it the loss of my assumed hetero-normative relationship? Is it the subtle reminder of the loss of my husband? Is it anger at our cultural training to define “normal” check-etiquette in the binary? Maybe being asked “together or separate?” is a sign of our future, a sign that we are moving towards not assuming anything about two people eating together. I think the part I’m unsettled about is the fact I even have to wonder. Katie squeezed my hand and we got up to leave. I left a large tip and thanked the server for serving me dinner, going to work in a city with less-than-stellar road conditions. Having worked in retail so long, I know what it’s like to still have to go to work when everyone else is huddled inside, to wait on the late busses, to wonder if you can get home. Whether our server knew the questions inspired by their service, they could still be thanked for showing up.

Picture of Sunset last night. I wish my phone could do it more justice. It was really beautiful.




4 thoughts on “Together or Separate?

  1. Kim

    YES!!!! This started happening to us early on as well. Now I just find it comical. I think it says a lot about our society that two people of the same gender are not assumed to be a couple, but if I went out with a male friend they would most likely just bring one bill. It used to really bother me and make me sad. I do miss just being accepted as a couple and it definitely is a reminder that we aren’t seen as a “normal” couple anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s funny you call that out: as I was editing this post I realized I used “waiter” instead of server and “he” instead of they. Caught myself this time, but I’m sure I’ll continue to make that mistake. 🤦🏻‍♀️


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