“Oh, it’s ‘won’ now, is it?” He raises an eyebrow.
,” I say. “And he ended up in the hospital. So.”
The waiter brings our glasses of white wine, stalling the conversation. It’s a good wine, but nothing special; about right for a country club full of middle-aged midwesterners. I barely taste it anyway.
“How are you doing?” I ask, unguardedly as I can allow myself.
He looks off to the side. “Change,” he says finally, “even when it’s only a change in the label you give something…it’s still a change. It’ll take some getting used to. I remember.” He sips the wine. “I remember when we were first married, how strange it was to be called ‘husband,’ and ‘wife.’ How we laughed about it.”
Even the activist in me knows this isn’t the time to bring up gay marriage issues. I keep my mouth shut and nod. Now he’s an ex-husband, a divorcé, single—a lot of labels that are new, or that haven’t been applied in twenty-some years. And I have to learn to get to know him this way, too.
I had friends in high school and college who had three or four parents. Heck, Misha had six: an adoptive mother and father, a biological mother and step-father, and a biological father and step-mother. Through grade school and middle school, I’d been proud of having only two parents. By college, I’d come to view it as a curiosity, a relic, almost.
“Have you told anyone else? Aunt Carolyn didn’t mention anything.”
He shakes his head. “You had to be first. We both agreed on that. We didn’t want you to hear it from anyone else. Of course, it is Thanksgiving. So I suspect it’ll make the rounds of the family by tonight. Tomorrow at the latest.”
That makes it sound like it was a mutual thing, but of course someone had to be first to suggest it. It was nice of Mother to agree, though. I imagine her saying that she doesn’t think I would care one way or another, with that hurt tone that lurked behind her words every time she asked if I’d met a vixen in college, knowing what my answer would be. As if being gay were something I’d done to offend her. But divorce—that seems like a big step, and I see what Father means when he says it’s not all about me. There has to be other stuff going on. Still, I can’t help but feel that I’m a big part of it.
Even if the last time I talked to her was months ago, the image of Mother in my head telling Father she doesn’t want to be with him is hard to summon up. It just doesn’t work, somehow. They’ve always been together, unified even in their disapproval of me, up until…well, until I started dating Dev. Father talked more to me then, saw what I was going through and sympathized. I barely talked to Mother through all of the stuff with Dev’s family over the last couple months. I’m not even sure she knows about it.
“I appreciate you telling me first,” I say finally. “I’d hate to get a call from grandma telling me you were breaking up.”
“She wouldn’t call you,” Father says.
It’s hard to make small talk with that leaden capital “D” dragging down the conversation, but I figure the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge it and move on. I don’t know if it’d be proper to flaunt my relationship in his face, so I don’t talk about moving in with Dev, although preparing for that has occupied most of the last month of my life. “There’s this guy Emmanuel at Yerba, and Morty—my old boss, at the Dragons—gave me a good recommendation. He says they might have an opening and Emmanuel wants to talk to me.”
“I think so. I mean, I didn’t play football, and that’s a strike against me. But that whole thing about me and Dev came out now.”
“I saw it.”
“So Morty thinks that might work in my favor. Yerba, well, you know.” I made him and Mother watch the Yerba Pride Parade when I was home one summer. Rather, I turned it on and
Kiki Swinson presents Unique