“I need to ask you something,” said my mom last night as we were getting into the car.
My throat suddenly had a heartbeat.
“Sure, what?” I asked, playing it cool.
We were parked in my grandma’s driveway, about to drive home after collecting about 1/4 of the stuff I’ve been keeping there since my last apartment.
She turned the car off. This was going to be a long conversation. OK.
“I’ve heard from several sources that Ella is gay,” she said. “I need to know how you feel about that.”
“What, my roommate? I’m cool with it,” I said casually. “You should be too.”
Her voice came out strained. “No, I mean…you. Are you gay?”
I had imagined it a thousand times in my head: or possibly less, because I never like thinking about it. But I had been starting to plan it out. I’d invite my brother to spend a weekend with me in Chicago at my new apartment, take him out to dinner and then to the beach, and come out to him before my parents could “get to him” first and brainwash him into hating me. I’d tell him I was afraid of telling Mom and Dad and ask if I had his support. And if I was right about the way I think he feels, he’d be like, “Whatever, Jenny. Love is love.”
And then I’d have the whole family over for dinner. If I was brave, I’d do it in person and say, “The next person I date is not going to be a guy.” (Isn’t that genius? It took me months to come up with that phrase.) Or, if I chickened out, I’d send an email later.
But that’s not how it happened. That’s not even remotely close. What happened was the small explosion of a failed firework going off, followed by the unexpected slow burn of gunpowder as it returned to the ground.
It’s funny, I spent all this time agonizing over what I would say to her, and then it turns out I never had to. It’s happened this way with a few secrets I’ve had: they ask before I can tell.
I squirmed for a few minutes, played with the cap on my water bottle. Finally I looked her straight in the eye and said, “OK, it’s true. I like girls.”
(Please stay tuned for the next part of this story and her reaction.)