tagLesbian SexThe Courtship of Rachel Pt. 04

The Courtship of Rachel Pt. 04



In the aftermath of her encounter with Birgit, Rachel takes us to the end of her story, covering her wedding and day to day life with Birgit.

Well it looks like I have some catching up to do! My daughter has surged ahead with her account while I've been doing other things, all good things I might add. We had a dinner party with Anna and her partner Astrid because we won't see them for six weeks, they're going to Europe and the U.K for some sightseeing and quality time together. When I told them about what I was writing about Anna chuckled.

"I've agreed to write about my encounters," she told me.

"When?" I asked her.

"Soon enough, it's not like I'll be too busy to write."

Anna and Astrid are heading off to the UK and Europe for six weeks, so somehow she'll find time enough to write. And now back to the story. I reread one of Tess's earlier accounts this morning and decided to take a leaf out of her book and compress as much time as possible and just write in detail about certain events and things.

I got to reminiscing about our honeymoon and while that was a wonderful holiday and yes we did get some private time, there was another honeymoon that Tess only hinted at because everything happened out of sight and out of mind. It's a mum thing, if you want time alone with your partner you devise all kinds of methods to get the kids out of the way or suitably engaged with something else so that you can do your thing. Granted we never put Vaseline on the doorknobs but we certainly found some inventive ways to keep Paul and Tess happy. All that fizzled out by the time Tess turned three though, by then I'd realised that all the great ideas about spending time alone with Lewis were all coming from me, he was just playing along.

That was not the case with Birgit though, she was definitely the one who chased me, not that I needed much convincing to duck over for a few wines or just to 'help' her out. After so many years playing with Mrs. Palmer and her five daughters while Lewis was out playing with other women I was like a woman unleashed. I'd broken the drought and there's nothing like that feeling of being wanted and desirable again. It isn't just the sex by the way, anyone with half a brain can masturbate to their heart's content, it's opening yourself up for another human being and trusting they're not going to hurt you.

Prior to getting together with Birgit I'd had homoerotic crushes on women for years but the bonds of marriage and my pride kept me from taking things further even though my old neighbour, Paula would have taken me to bed. I'd dropped quite a few pounds and with that came renewed energy and vitality. My mind had opened and I felt like someone stumbling out of a desert into a green oasis filled with wondrous delights.

One of my standard excuses for spending time alone with Birgit was the desire to learn Danish and as anyone who has tried learning Danish can testify, it's one of the hardest languages to learn. You do unnatural things with your mouth and feel ridiculously stupid when your Danish partner repeats the same sentence with ease. Birgit however was a very patient teacher and I was soon able to master some of the basic phrases. It would take another three years though before I became fluent in Danish.

Nevertheless, telling the children I was going across the road with Birgit to speak Danish did look somewhat suspicious considering that I was getting changed into different clothes. I had to fight the urge to put on a nice dress and just change into smart but casual clothes. That did change when Lewis had his access visits and I came to look forward to them because we had the whole weekend to spend with each other. I'd find myself planning for it a week in advance, deciding on what to wear and what we would eat. I would make sure the house was spotless Friday night because I wanted to spend as little time doing housework on those weekends as possible.

I discovered to my delight that Birgit was also on the same page although she was decidedly more efficient with housework, but she didn't have kids to look out for. She used to come up with suggestions of what we should do together or where we could go. One weekend we drove all the way to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade and another weekend we went up to the snow. Birgit thought it a novel idea to actually visit the snow instead of having the snow visit us the way it does in Copenhagen. I'd never been to the snow before so I truly was a virgin in that way, my God I was so bloody cold.

"How do you put up with this for months on end?"

"We cuddle," she put her arm around me, "eat cake and drink coffee, winter is a time for staying indoors and relaxing whenever you don't have to work."

That weekend we stayed in a chalet because Sue had agreed to have Sam stay at her joint for Saturday night and speaking of my sisters, they did know something was going on but I was so convinced that they were unaware. Sue later told me that they knew I was with someone because they could see it in my eyes, and in the absence of any men in my life it had to be Birgit who'd stolen my heart.

All honeymoons must come to an end though and mine came to a sudden halt the night Lewis blew his brains out. I'd been over at Birgit's house for one of our regular girls nights, a few glasses of wine, a little bit of food and a session in bed. The pinafore I wore that night was part of an ongoing role playing game that involved finding clothes to create a certain look. That night I was a naughty schoolgirl and she was my schoolgirl crush. Role playing was one of those things I'd always looked on with the same disdain as bondage. Sex was all about getting naked and the big O but with Birgit I felt as if I'd ascended to a higher plane.

The night Elke came around to tell me that Lewis had committed suicide I felt as if a part of me had died too because indirectly my actions had led to his final action. I know it's not my fault but even in the cold light of day it's hard not to blame yourself. I used to think that it took guts to end your life but I've come to believe that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness. When you factor in the simple fact that humans naturally reach out to those in pain, and if we are able to help another through a crisis it makes us feel better. However taking your own life is virtually saying to your friends I don't need you, I don't want you and to make sure you can't help me I'm going to end my own life. I know that's an oversimplification as there are other factors at play too, the mind is a delicate thing, what makes some people stronger destroys others and vice versa. As much as I hated Lewis I would have reached out to at least guide him to get some help.

Birgit's presence in my life was what pulled me through my own grief and guilt. She never once tried to reason with me or offer up timely advice. She just said, "I'm here for you, lean on me and we'll walk through it together." When I was getting ready for the funeral she was in the bedroom and did my makeup for me because my hands were shaking.

"This is the worst day, but you're stronger than Eileen."

"You haven't met Eileen."

"I know but I've heard all about her. She's typical of the older generation. She comes from a land torn apart by hatred and religious fanatics. I've seen it for myself, they'll cross the road to avoid getting too close to someone from the other side."

"That'd be Eileen, she wanted a Catholic wedding and I insisted on a Protestant one," I stared at myself in the dressing table mirror, "she's never forgiven me for that one."

"You're not there for her," she told me, "you're there to support your children, they're the most important people in your life. She's just a transient who stayed too long. Stop giving her free rent in your head, you need the room to fill it up with other things."

It was sage advice because as much as I hated to admit it I had given Eileen free rent in my head for far too long. I could stew on something she'd said or done for days and then suddenly blow up over some minor thing that had nothing to do with her.

"You and I need to talk about us."

"I know," she sat back to study my face, "but not today and probably not this week, but we can't keep hiding it from the children, they're too important."

"I wish you were coming too," I blurted out.

"My place is not there it's here," she took my hand, "go to the funeral and I'll be here doing the housework for you. They're going to a wake afterwards but you can drive away knowing you did the right thing today."

In that moment I knew I loved Birgit in a way I'd never loved anybody and as I stared at Eileen at the cemetery I felt a tiny surge of hope because for the first time I looked at her not as my mother in law but as an ordinary woman. Stripped of that title I saw her for what she was, a bitter old woman who used her love like a weapon to keep her kids close to her breast. Eileen was a master at emotional blackmail, she'd threaten to withhold her love if her children defied her and that made her all the more pathetic. When she confronted me after the coffin was lowered into the ground I knew then that she was not long for this world, and that was months before she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I know it sounds like something out of a paranormal story but she had the look of death about her. It's why I never responded to her, I felt her fading before me even as one of her sons led her away.

I know after the funeral I became decidedly less careful about being discovered by my kids, I had faced a bitter test and emerged on the other side stronger and more determined to stand my ground and thus the night Tess almost walked in on us I actually laughed when Birgit looked back at me and mouthed the name, 'Tess.' There I was, lying in my knickers while my daughter stood on the other side of the wall to tell Birgit that Paul had hurt himself. I remember sitting up in bed and looking down at my legs and remembering Ned Kelly's supposed last words.

"So it's come to this," I murmured and then sat up and reached for Birgit's dressing gown. I made no attempt to get dressed while Birgit stalled her. You can only go so far before just becomes a bloody farce and I was damned if I was going to lie to Tess, she'd been through far too much and that night as we went over the road a few minutes later I outed myself to my daughter. A part of me, the negative part actually thought she might reject me for it but when she practically insisted that I keep seeing Birgit but perhaps I should do it openly I found the strength to out myself to Paul an hour and a half later as we sat in the car at Maroondah hospital.

"So, you and Birgit," he fiddled with his bandage.

"Yeah," I opened the glovebox and took out a packet of cigarettes that had been there for the last three or four months. Back then I was one of those social smokers, I could have one and not have another for months.

"Go on, take one if you want," I pulled out a cigarette, "I won't tell anyone."

"Do you love her?" Paul stared straight ahead as I lit the cigarette.

"Yeah, I do," I wound down the window, "I love Birgit and she loves me."

"I wish you'd give up smoking then, you know it causes cancer."

"I smoke now and then," I inhaled and coughed.

"Birgit doesn't smoke, what if you get cancer and die?"

"You want me to give up smoking?" I stared at the glowing ember, "I haven't even started."

"Then stop before you get addicted."

"So, you're more concerned with my nicotine habit than the fact that I'm having sex with another woman?"

"That won't kill you, I like Birgit but if you and her are you know, going out can you at least do it front of us, not the sex part," he held out his hand, "that's just gross but if you want to be together then why not be together at home instead of her place? If you'd both been in your bedroom tonight instead of her bedroom then I wouldn't have been sitting in agony for so long."

I stared at that glowing ember. Smoking was one of those things that pissed Lewis off, he smoked like a bloody chimney but he hated me smoking. At parties and barbecues if I botted a fag off one of our friends and he saw me, he'd take it out of my hand and either butt it out or finish it. I used to get in a huff about it and to be honest I sometimes lit up a fag if he was getting too friendly with a woman at the party.

"All right, you win," I butted the fag out and flicked it out the window, "I'll give up," I grabbed the packet and flung it out the window as well.

"That's littering, mum."

"No, it's leaving a present for some poor junkie who gets discharged in a few hours time," I wound the window up, "but on the subject of Birgit and I," I started the engine, "I need you to keep this to yourself. No telling Kelly, no telling any of your friends, I know it's going to come out in the end but that's up to Birgit and I to work out for ourselves, okay?"

"Okay, you win," he stretched his foot out gingerly.

The subject of Birgit and I coming out however was one thing that did play on my mind, Birgit was their teacher as well as their mother's girlfriend. I didn't want to risk her job for me but when I raised that matter with Birgit she simply smiled.

"I have a contract with the Victorian Education Department," she told me, "if the principal decides that I am breaking some protocol then I will request a transfer to another school. Lilydale is a very convenient school because I do not have to drive far and in the warmer months I can ride my bike but perhaps we should look at the bigger picture."

"I'm listening," I replied.

"I have found a woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, I love her and I love her children. If the price for that is transferring to another school then it's a small price to pay. I would never ask you to out yourself but if you do then I am with you one hundred percent and if you decide to keep this a secret then I am with you one hundred percent."

In the end though it turned out that the principal was actually okay with Birgit dating one of the school mums, she wasn't breaking any laws and he could see that both Paul and Tess had improved since Birgit came into my life. Which left the ball fairly and squarely in my court and Tess has already written about my 'outing' at Christmas, which left me feeling rather bemused and somewhat relieved. The only person who was surprised was dad, because he was told the day before and so we began to lay plans for a civil ceremony. Gay marriage was not legal in Australia back then after the Howard government declared that marriage was only permissible between a man and a woman, which angered Tess and Paul more than us. I mean I couldn't give a stuff about a priest or minister blessing our union. A Uniting church minister had blessed my wedding and look how well that turned out, we didn't need some man or woman of God to bless our union.

One of the things about our relationship that most intrigued me was Birgit's insistence that we keep nourishing friendships with other women. To Birgit it is as necessary as breathing and I understand more of the Danish culture now than I did back then. At the time it seemed somewhat quaint that trust is part of their DNA, so to speak. But like a patient learning to use their legs after a long time in bed I began to feel somewhat easier with this new concept. Over the years I've had women, some of them well meaning, ask me how I can trust Birgit going to see other women and my answer is almost always the same.

"Because I want to trust her, it's a conscious choice."

It sounds trite and perhaps a little simplistic but I've found that it works for me and her. Her network of friends certainly came through for our wedding though, we had a steady flow of offers to help out in any way possible. Birgit may only have been in the country for a few years but she'd gained quite a few friends and now I come to the honeymoon itself, finally!

The decision to take the children was never mine, I went along with it because it was Birgit's idea to bring the children with us. When she came out with it we were lying in bed after making love when she rolled over on top of me and stared into my eyes.

"I would like to take the children with us."

"On our honeymoon?" I reached for my glasses, "isn't that a bit back to front?"

"We have a lifetime to get to know each other, but I am not just marrying you, I am helping you to raise your children. This is a big thing for me and my family should get to know your children as well, if you cannot afford it then I will pay for their tickets."

"I can afford it," I put my glasses on, "are you sure you want to take them?"

"I am sure," she kissed me, "it is a Danish thing, I am part of your family and you are part of mine, we value family and friends, besides my mother would think it rude if we showed them pictures of Paul and Tess instead of bringing them along."

"I'm nervous about meeting your mother," I replied, "my first mother in law is a complete bitch."

"You have no need to worry on that account," she reassured me.

And so with that in mind I got passports for Paul and Tess, they of course asked questions but I fielded them off with standard answers like, "well one of these days we're going to visit Birgit's family in Copenhagen."

What I didn't tell them was that they were going to be in Copenhagen with us on our honeymoon, it was my surprise gift to my children.


And now onto the wedding. You thought I was going to skip over it. How little you know me! There were several glaring differences between my first wedding and the second and I'm not talking about the two most obvious ones, such as marrying a woman and doing it out in the open instead of inside a church.

Tess has already mentioned one of them. It was a very communal affair, the reception dinner was a blatant nod to the Scandinavian smorgasbord tradition, everyone brings something to the table no matter how humble the offering, it is placed alongside the finest dishes as a symbol of equality. I think we had the most eclectic selection of food I'd ever seen. The starters ranged from Aussie party pies and sausage rolls through to crepes, croissants and Japanese nori rolls. We did splash out on several large chickens however but they were all cooked in various kitchens the night before and reheated on the day.

However it wasn't just my mother and sisters who put out the word that if you wanted to come to the reception you had to bring a plate, they certainly told as many people as possible, but we did our share too and the word spread quickly. One of the things I was determined to avoid though was the Aussie tradition of making it an excuse for a piss up. Australians have a well deserved tradition of being hard drinkers and any excuse for a piss up is a good excuse. My first wedding was a study in opposites, you had my family and a few select friends having just a few drinks and you had the Murphy side of the hall where too much was never enough. I literally couldn't have sex with my husband on that first night because he actually passed out with his pants around his knees, leaving me to strip him naked. I slept on the hotel couch that night!

With that in mind we decided to invite her students, which combined with our friends' children made it a much more family friendly environment. Our wedding toast was flavoured mineral water and no one seemed to give a stuff. Another difference was the choice of entertainment, Lewis knew some guys who had a band and bribed them with an open bar if they'd just play a few songs. We had a Year Twelve kid, Davey doing his DJ thing instead and that kid did his research. He came over a week before the ceremony for dinner, and to get a list of songs and seeing as we're both into glam rock, he even dressed the part!

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